|Arizona State Sun Devils|
Today is Selection Sunday for the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, and as someone who worked for 11 years as a sportswriter, I like to think I have some expertise in this area. If I had to pick the No. 1 event in all of sports, my choice would be the NCAA Tournament. For sustained drama and memorable upsets, nothing can match it.
But I've been close enough to college athletics to know it has an ugly underside. And that was driven home the other day when we received a list of the 10 most corrupt college athletics programs in America. The minute I saw the headline, I knew someone from my home state of Alabama had to be on that list. And I was not disappointed. My only surprise was that at least two Alabama schools didn't make it.
The "most corrupt" list comes to us courtesy of associatesdegree.com, a Web site that promotes online, college-level coursework. Is the Web site trying to spread the message that life on America's campuses isn't all rosy? Perhaps. But possible ulterior motives aside, I would say the list looks pretty accurate.
Here is college athletics' terrible 10, as chosen by associatesdegree.com. You can check out the full article here:
1. Arizona State
6. Texas A&M
7. Wichita State
9. Florida State
The only surprise on the list, to me, was the University of Wisconsin. I tend to think of the big school in Madison as a pretty classy place, but I did not realize how many problems the Badgers' sports teams have had over the years.
Auburn, the reigning champion of college football, made my home state "proud." But I'm still trying to figure out how our other big-time school, the University of Alabama, failed to make the list. After all, UA has a board member with documented ties to massive insurance fraud. His name is Paul W. Bryant Jr., son of the late Hall of Fame football coach Paul "Bear" Bryant. One of Bryant Jr.'s companies, Alabama Reassurance, was implicated in a $15-million fraud scheme several years ago in Pennsylvania.
How many schools can claim a certified, gold-plated fraudster on their board of trustees?
Alabama probably didn't make the list because the NCAA, for years, tended to cut "mother campuses" lots of slack. In fact, former UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian long has told this classic joke: "The NCAA got so mad at Kentucky for cheating that they gave Cleveland State two more years probation."
Over the past decade or so, the NCAA has started pulling back the mask a little on mother campuses. So we can look forward to the Crimson Tide joining Auburn in future top 10 lists of the most corrupt programs in college sports.
For now, Texas is the only state with two schools on the list. But we think Alabama has the potential to join that elite company very soon.