The University of Louisville’s men’s basketball program has avoided major penalties after, on Thursday morning, the IARP published the findings and consequences of the Louisville Cardinals’ infractions from 2017. The basis of the investigation, which was uncovered by U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York on Sept. 26, 2017, was that Adidas allegedly made an impermissible recruiting offer of $100,000 and arranged for a $25,000 extra benefit to the father of former Louisville men’s basketball player Brian Bowen.
The biggest outcome of the case was Louisville receiving a $5,000 fine among other minor penalties.
In today’s world where student-athletes can sign deals with companies through the NCAA’s legalization of name, image and likeness, the college sports world will likely see fewer and fewer cases like this. The current landscape may also play a factor in the Cardinals getting away fairly clean and former head coach Rick Pitino, now at Iona, receiving no penalty at all. There was a time, however, when schools received major, harsher punishments for student-athletes receiving money from boosters, which is now the base of many NIL collectives, and companies associated with institutions.
From punishments levied due to paying players to SAT scandals, here are five other programs that have been punished by the NCAA for similar infractions:
5. Memphis men’s basketball vacates wins for ‘invalidated’ SAT test score
In 2008, Memphis had to vacate its NCAA men’s basketball record 38 wins from a 2007-08 season that ended in the national championship game after the NCAA’s investigation into a men’s basketball player having an “invalidated” SAT test score. The Tigers’ whole athletic department was also placed on a three-year probationary period.
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That player was widely reported to have been Derrick Rose, who allegedly had a stand-in take the test for him in Detroit, instead of his school, Simeon High School in Chicago. Rose reportedly took the ACT three times in Chicago but never produced a qualifying score. He ended up being the No. 1 pick, going to his hometown Bulls in the 2008 NBA draft and was rookie of the year in his first season.
A year after the NCAA levied the punishment, Memphis conducted an internal investigation that found no proof of any cheating and advocated it should be able to keep its wins and national title appearance. That has not happened.
4. Michigan vacates 112 games in Fab Five fallout
The Fab Five — Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson — had their reputation tarnished after Michigan issued a self-imposed penalty in 2002, vacating 112 regular-season and tournament games over five seasons, which included its 1992 NCAA semifinal game. The program also returned the $450,000 obtained from postseason games to the NCAA and put itself on a two-year probation.
In an era of college sports prior to name, image and likeness, college athletes weren’t allowed to receive payment from anyone. In May 2002, Ed Martin, a former auto worker who died in 2003, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to launder money. As the legal process unfolded, he told federal prosecutors that he lent $616,000, some of which was obtained through gambling, to Webber and fellow former Michigan players Maurice Taylor, Robert Traylor and Louis Bullock.
The NCAA later levied its own sanctions of 3 ½ years of probation, one lost scholarship for four years, starting in 2004-05, and 2003-04 postseason ban.
3. Kentucky men’s basketball flirts with death penalty
Kentucky men’s basketball narrowly avoided a one-year shutdown after the NCAA found the Wildcats had committed recruiting and rules violations in 1989. Because the school complied with the NCAA’s investigation, the penalties included three years of probation and a postseason ban for two years from 1990-91, a television broadcast ban for the 1989-90 season and a limit of three scholarships in each of the following two years. The university also forfeited money received during the 1988 NCAA tournament and any player that transferred out because of the sanctions couldn’t be replaced by a scholarship player.
Two Kentucky players, Chris Mills and Eric Manual were barred from playing at Kentucky and any NCAA institution, respectively.
The punishments came as a result of then-UK assistant coach Dwane Casey reportedly sending money to the father of Chris Mills, an All-American from Fairfax (Calif.) High School, which was found in an air-express package in April 1988. Casey also reportedly “provided false information to investigators about his role in rules violations,” according to an Los Angeles Times article.
Among the other violations, then-Kentucky wing player Eric Manuel was found to have cheated on the ACT exam. He was allowed to play for the Wildcats, who the NCAA said should’ve had knowledge of his ineligibility, during the 1987-88 season. UK also had other minor infractions like providing improper trips, housing and inducements like free T-shirts to recruits.
The fallout from the penalties included Cliff Hagan resigning as UK’s athletic director and Wildcats head coach Eddie Sutton and his entire coaching staff leaving.
2. Miami football receives bowl ban in 2011-12
The Hurricanes have had their fair share of scandal and NCAA infractions over the years, dating back to being put on probation for Pell Grant fraud in the 1980s. One of the most recent incidents was in 2011 when then-Miami booster Nevin Shapiro said he provided Hurricanes athletes with cash, prostitutes and entertainment in his multimillion-dollar homes and yacht, paid for trips to high-end restaurants and nightclubs, jewelry bounties for on-field play (including bounties for injuring opposing players), travel and, on one occasion, an abortion, among other things, according to a 2011 article from Yahoo Sports. Shapiro estimates the cost for everything to be “in the millions of dollars” over an eight-year period in the early 2000s.
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Among Miami’s self-imposed sanctions were a two-year bowl ban in 2011 and 2012, which included the 2012 ACC championship and reduction of official paid visits, fall evaluations and contact days during the contact period for the 2012-13 school year. The NCAA added on a loss of nine football scholarships and three basketball scholarships over the following three seasons and three years of probation from Oct. 22, 2013 to Oct. 21, 2016. Additionally, the NCAA ruled the program could only give a recruit complimentary tickets for one home game on unofficial visits during the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons.
1. SMU football receives ‘death penalty’ for paying player
There are a very small number of athletic programs that have been subjected to the NCAA’s death penalty, and SMU is arguably the most famous them. As “repeat violators,” the Mustangs had their entire 1987 season vacated and canceled the 1988 season after it was revealed the school continued to pay players.
SMU had been busted for paying Sean Stopperich, a prep star from Pittsburgh who later became a witness in the NCAA investigation, $5,000 to commit to the Mustangs’ football program. There’s also speculation that SMU great Eric Dickerson was paid to attend the school after he de-committed from Texas A&M. In 1985, the Mustangs were banned from bowl games for two seasons and lost 45 scholarships over two seasons.
SMU didn’t immediately stop providing money to student-athletes and were outed during a televised interview with David Stanley, a former Mustang who had been kicked off the team. Upon a completion of gathering evidence, the NCAA levied the death penalty on SMU on Feb. 25, 1987.
Reach Louisville football, women’s basketball and baseball beat writer Alexis Cubit at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter at @Alexis_Cubit.