With the recent interest in the infamous SMU football program that received the NCAA Death Penalty in 1987, here are a couple documents that played a role in that sordid saga.
The documents represent the partial “payroll” of the 1982 SMU football team. Read more…
After it airs the Heisman Trophy ceremony on Saturday night, ESPN plans to broadcast a documentary about the SMU football program that received the NCAA death penalty in 1987.
(James’ dirty little secret is now out)
ESPN analyst Craig James was a key member of the SMU football team in the early ’80s but has long attempted to separate himself from the dirty dealings of college football’s most notorious program.
The story of why SMU football was canceled, if you don’t know it, is actually pretty simple.
SMU linebacker David Stanley admitted to WFAA-TV in Dallas - on-camera - in 1987 that he received $25,000 from school athletic officials to sign with SMU in 1983. Stanley then was paid more money as a player by SMU employees during the 1983 and 1984 seasons.
The Stanley story led to another NCAA investigation that uncovered what the DALLAS MORNING NEWS characterized as a “slush fund” established by a single SMU booster to pay players. The NCAA and the DALLAS TIMES-HERALD documented that from 1985 to 1986, $61,000 was paid to 13 players.
So who was the booster the NCAA confirmed was behind that fund to pay SMU players?
The ASSOCIATED PRESS reported on Feb. 27, 1987:
Sherwood Blount Jr., a developer and sports agent who was banned from booster activity at SMU two years ago, was the unidentified source of payments for student athletes cited in the National Collegiate Athletic Assn.’s probation report this week, the Dallas Times Herald reported.
The newspaper quoted persons close to the SMU athletic department as saying that Blount provided $61,000 in cash payments.
Blount was one of nine boosters barred from SMU athletics in August 1985, when the NCAA put the school on three years’ probation.
That’s right, Blount set up the slush fund to pay SMU players after the NCAA had already “barred” him “from SMU athletics” for previous misdeeds.
So it should come as no surprise that the DALLAS MORNING NEWS in 1987 also reported that the slush fund, which SMU athletic director Bob Hitch admitted knowing about all along, was actually originally established in 1981.
Craig James’ career at SMU spanned 1980 to 1983. When James moved on to pro football, one guess who is agent was? Read more…
Front page of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS on Feb. 26, 1987:
The Southern Methodist University football program, the most punished in NCAA history, received the harshest sanctions ever – including suspension for the 1987 season – when the NCAA announced its precedent-setting decision Wednesday.
Citing penalties intended to “eliminate a program that was built on a legacy of wrongdoing, deceit and rule violations,” the NCAA Committee on Infractions for the first time barred a school from playing football for an entire season.
That news was largely the culmination of reporting done in Dallas the previous two years by WFAA-TV sports director Dale Hansen.
This week Hansen produced a short video opinion piece on what he thought of the NCAA’s decision to maintain Cam Newton’s eligibility in the wake of allegations that Newton’s father actively marketed his son’s football skills to Mississippi State.
After June Jones bolted a comically underfunded Hawaii football program a year ago, he took the reins of an SMU Mustangs program still struggling to re-establish their pre-death sentence identity from 20 years ago. Jones apparently thought that over 10% of the team didn’t fit that identity and purged nine players from the roster in February, citing the ubiquitous “violations of team rules.”
There was one teensy problem, though; some of the players argued that they hadn’t, in fact, broken any rules. Eventually, five off the nine dismissed players appealed SMU’s decision to release them from their scholarship. A judge finally ruled on the case Friday, and according to the DALLAS MORNING NEWS, three of the five athletes have been placed back on athletic scholarship for 2009-2010. Awkwaaard.
One of the arguments I’ve heard over and over about keeping the current BCS system in college football is that a playoff would make the regular season irrelevant. Why get fired up about USC losing to Oregon State if they are still going to make it into the playoffs? The traditionalists, conference heads and Beano Cook all agree that college football already has a playoff called the regular season, and a postseason playoff would only tarnish it and make it unimportant.
Allow me to offer a counter argument based on last night’s college basketball results. Go tell the Northwestern basketball fans (and yes, they do exist) that the regular season doesn’t matter because it’s all about March Madness. In what might be the greatest day in Northwestern basketball history (and possibly the only great day in Northwestern basketball history), the Wildcats beat No. 7 Michigan State 70-63, their first win at East Lansing since 1984.
Or, go ask Virginia Tech fans if they are excited about knocking off No. 1 Wake Forest 78-71, handing the Demon Deacons their first loss of the season (that is if you can get them off the court.) Or Clemson fans how they feel about their team extending their record at North Carolina to 0-54 after getting shellacked 94-70 by the Tar Heels in a match-up of Top Ten teams.
But clearly, nobody cares about college basketball until March, which is why ESPN has about 500 games on a night across their vast network of channels. Seriously, this logic is as flawed as the BCS system itself - college basketball is thriving because of March Madness, not in spite of it, and nights like last night serve as a pretty stark reminder why.
The NBA also has a playoff at the end of the regular season, and people seem to be watching that as well (at least the final three minutes or so of games). And it was a pretty fun night there, too, if not as upset-filled. For example, the Lakers beating the Clippers 108-97? Not a surprise.
But Andrew Bynum going off for 42 points and 15 rebounds? Big surprise. The Lakers are already among the league’s elite teams. If they get anything resembling that kind of production from Bynum on a regular basis, it’s a scary proposition for the rest of the NBA.
Here’s the other sports news you missed last night as you were still stuck in traffic trying to get back from the Presidential Inauguration:
- With all the great basketball finishes last night, the best one was certainly in the SMU vs. Marshall game, where Markel Humphrey made a 75-foot shot as time expired to give the Thundering Herd a 53-50 victory. WSAZ-TV has the story and video.
- You might remember the Greek basketball team Olympiakos when they lured Josh Childress from the Hawks and made a big money offer to Kobe Bryant. Now NEWSDAY is saying that they have contacted the Knicks about getting Stephon Marbury out of his contract and over to their team. I wonder if they buy cheap sneakers in Athens, too.
- Rod Marinelli isn’t bitter at the Detroit media. No, not at all. MLIVE.COM says the new defensive line coach for the Bears greeted some male Detroit writers who approached him at the Senior Bowl with a curt “Hello, Ladies” before ignoring them. Needless to say, a women’s sports group has already squeezed an apology out of him. Hey, he might not like the Detroit media, but at least he didn’t steal their luggage.
- Ever see the scores of one of those ridiculous high school basketball blowouts and wonder what it feels like to be unceremoniously thrashed? The DALLAS MORNING NEWS talks to the players on the Dallas Academy’s girls basketball team after their 100-0 loss on Tuesday to find out.
- OK, I understand that Stanford might be having budget woes, as INSIDE BAY AREA reports. But they have a squash team? What’s next, racquetball? Kickball?
- I imagine being a ball boy is a rough job - physically demanding, pressure-filled, and having to deal with your friends’ jokes about your job title. So what you probably don’t need is to take a forehand to the head, like STUFF NEW ZEALAND says this poor kid did at the Australian Open:
- After getting ripped by Troy Aikman, who said that he didn’t “fully grasp what being the Cowboys quarterback is all about,” Tony Romo tells the DALLAS MORNING NEWS that he has vowed to change his leadership style in 2009. The first step: personally delivering a Singapore-style caning to anyone who speaks to Ed Werder.
- With Charles Barkley having exited the broadcast booth (temporarily or permanently), it’s fallen on Chris Webber and Gary Payton to pick up the slack of slightly insane basketball analysts, and they are doing a fair job of it. NESW SPORTS has video of them slamming Nene for getting married over the All-Star break, which devolves into suggesting that Dwight Howard dunk over him and his bride. Good stuff.
- In yet another example of the failing economy intruding into the protective bubble we call sports, the CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER reports that the Browns have laid off 18 employees, including their Director of Media Relations. Perhaps Rod Marinelli could handle a second job?
- A high school basketball coach in Philadelphia tells the PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS that he doesn’t blame his player who sucker punched him in the back of the head following a close loss, but feels for him. If only my old boss was so forgiving after I kneed him in the groin after he cost us the Putnam Electronics deal.
Last month, a cheerleader was told by her school that, because of her preexisting heart condition which requires her to wear a heart pacemaker, she could only sit on the sidelines instead of jumping around with the rest of the ladies. The cheerleader was, obviously, distraught and aired her grievances via the mass media. Well, friends, fret for her no longer - she can cheer once again.
Jamie Burns, who landed a scholarship at Southern Methodist University for her cheerleading prowess, is expected to immediately stop the kind-of-hilarious method of only clapping to the beat on the sidelines, trying as hard as she can to be enthused about the team, and return to the somersaulting daredevilry that makes it the most dangerous sport in the world for women.
And while it’s the fair call, is it really the wisest move?
The HONOLULU ADVERTISER hikes along news that the
Rainbow Warriors are talking with June’s new school, SMU, about the Mustangs heading out to Oahu to start the 2009 season.
It would be interesting to see Jones back on the sidelines at Aloha Stadium, considering how he left UH in a huff. But it turns out he might actually return to Honolulu sooner - or at least some of his money will.
The HONOLULU STAR-BULLETIN reports that the Warriors have promoted assistant Greg McMackin to run the football program. The defensive coordinator was all set to follow June Jones to SMU, until he was given the chance to take the reins of the defending WAC champs.
It does seem a bit odd that a team known for their offensive output would nab a defensive guy. But then again, this school did let Jones slip away from paradise to the plains of Conference USA.
McMackin has his work cut out for him, such as building a coaching staff, hitting the recruiting trail - and finding a Hawaiian home for his daughter & grandchildren, who he plans to move out from Texas.
As for John L. losing out on the job, we imagine this was his reaction:
The HONOLULU ADVERTISER leis downs the news that June Jones has bid aloha to Hawaii:
A close friend of Jones said that the Warriors coach resigned from his position on Saturday, apparently frustrated by “a lack of loyalty and commitment” from the school’s athletic department. June had sent out a letter to friends listing his reasons for leaving but also thanking them for his support.
KGMB-TV has also learned some details of a document sent by Jones to Hawaii athletic director Herman Frazier.