College Sports

NCAA Shame: These Were The Darkest Moments In College Sports

Darren - July 18, 2023
College Sports

NCAA Shame: These Were The Darkest Moments In College Sports

Darren - July 18, 2023

Many sports fans in the United States love college sports more than anything else. They show incredible loyalty to their school team and follow it daily. However, sometimes horrible scandals arise that taint college sports. So today, we’ll look at the darkest moments in NCAA history.

Some colleges blatantly lured athletes to their programs by offering them illegal incentives. Other universities covered up allegations and protected their vile staff members for unexplainable reasons. There are also plenty of hazing stories and crazy student behavior. Check out these wild and sordid tales of collegiate sports here.

New Mexico State Athletics

New Mexico Hazing

This was one of the darkest moments in modern NCAA basketball history. New Mexico State suspended its program after alleged hazing incidents tainted it. Two players revealed that they experienced harassment and bullying before they quit the team. It rocked the Las Cruces-based school because they never saw it coming.


The school chancellor wrote the following statement in a letter to the student body. He said: “Hazing is a despicable act. It humiliates and degrades someone and has the potential to cause physical and emotional harm or even death. Sadly, hazing can become part of an organization’s culture, if left unchecked (via Fox Sports).”


Nevin Shapiro’s Bribes

The Nevin Shapiro scandal almost broke the University of Miami because it was so bad. It was one of the darkest moments in the school’s long history. The NCAA considered handing their football program the death penalty because of this shocking Ponzi scheme. Shapiro was an influential booster who influenced players with money, prostitutes, and other incentives.

Sports Illustrated

He created a massive business from illegal gambling and a wholesale grocery business. Shapiro stole millions of dollars as he funded his lavish lifestyle and gained public influence. But a federal investigation uncovered his crazy $930 million Ponzi Scheme. In the end, he received a 20-year jail sentence before moving to house arrest (via Miami New Times).

The Oklahoman

Oklahoma’s Dorms

The Oklahoma football dorm scandal was one of the darkest moments in OU history. The Sooners have a celebrated and prestigious football team. But a series of harrowing incidents threatened its existence in the late 1980s. Rampant debauchery went down in the Sooners’ dorms including rampant cocaine use, a shooting, and a rape.

The Oklahoman

In the end, three players went to jail after a jury agreed that they assaulted their victim. Another athlete even foolishly attempted to sell coke to an undercover cop. Finally, Oklahoma intervened and closed the dorms because they had no other choice. They couldn’t stop it so they took the dorms away (via The Oklahoman).

New York Post

Northwestern Cheerleader Lawsuit

It’s been a rough couple of years for Northwestern because they’ve had a couple high-profile scandals. One of their darkest moments came in 2021 when a cheerleader pressed charges against the school. She alleged that she experienced intense sexual harassment at the Illinois college and initiated a lawsuit against them.

YR Media

Hayden Richardson said that Northwestern exploited its cheerleaders. She alleged that they forced them to parade around like Victoria’s Secret models and put them in compromising positions. Reportedly, the school also made money from making the girls mingle with drunken fans (via Chicago Sun-Times).

Concordia University Chicago Athletics

Cougars Coaching

Concordia University Chicago probably isn’t on many people’s sporting radar because they play Division III basketball. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t produce major scandals. The school’s athletic director suspended the head basketball coach after a controversial incident in 2023. Five athletes went to the hospital after a grueling training session.

Concordia University Chicago Athletics

Allegedly, the players broke curfew during a game in California so Coach Scott Kollar brutalized them. They had symptoms of dehydration while their muscles were also breaking down. One of the player’s parents defended the coach after but it remained a polarizing issue. No program wants to make national headlines because they’re getting students hospitalized (via KIRO 7).

The Athletic

The Alabama Bribe

The Crimson Tide have the nation’s top NCAA football program but they’re no strangers to controversy. They feature many times on this list because they have a long history of breaking the rules. In 1999, they desperately wanted to sign high school star Albert Means. They recognized his elite potential and pursued him relentlessly.

Sports Illustrated

Unfortunately, they broke the rules in the process and paid him $150,000 to lure him to Tuscaloosa. The NCAA caught wind of this and seriously considered giving them the death penalty like SMU. Instead, they put them on probation and banned them from bowl games for a couple of years. Meanwhile, Means barely played before he transferred to Memphis.

CBS Sports

Baylor Murder Scandal

This is one of the most notorious entries on this list because one teammate murdered another. Carlton Dotson shot Patrick Dennehy in 2003 after a dispute broke out. The pair were firing their guns together but then an angry Dotson killed Dennehy. But the worst part was that Coach Dave Bliss ordered his team to lie to investigators (via Texas Monthly).

Daily Beast

This was because Bliss committed many NCAA violations including paying his players’ tuition. There was a horrific culture behind the scenes at Baylor and he knew that law enforcement would uncover them. In the end, his attempted cover-up failed miserably and Dotson went to jail. Meanwhile, Bliss became a persona non grata in NCAA basketball after one of the darkest moments ever.


Racist Coach

Chris Doyle attracted notoriety in 2020 when the Hawkeyes fired him after 21 months. The strength-and-conditioning coach disgusted his athletes because he used racist language as well as treating black players differently. Allegedly, he belittled many players and made many inappropriate comments that caused mental health problems.

Bleacher Report

In the end, Iowa decided that they couldn’t keep him in the job. They paid him off with over a million dollars and a tarnished reputation. Most programs would feel dubious about hiring a reported racist as a coach. But it didn’t stop Urban Meyer from giving Doyle an NFL role in Jacksonville. Outrage ensued and he lost his position after a single day (via The Guardian).

L.A. Times

Yale Soccer Bribes

Yale is one of the most prestigious institutions in the nation but even Ivy League schools have problems. We don’t think about women’s soccer being a dirty sport but their former head coach was on the take. Rudy Meredith led the team for 23 years before he retired in 2018. But then it emerged that he received up to half a million dollars in bribes.

Yale Athletics

This was part of the Varsity Blues scandal that shook the country. It was one of the darkest moments in Yale sports history because Meredith tarnished their image. A court sentenced him to five months behind bars after he tainted his legacy forever. It was a massive embarrassment for the college (via ABC News).

Detroit Free Press

Reggie Bush

Bush is the only player in history to return his Heisman Trophy after he admitted that USC gave him massive benefits. The college star was one of L.A.’s biggest stars and this should have been a warning sign. He earned up to $300,000 in illegal endorsements because the school wanted to secure his services.


But the NCAA has strict regulations and the guilty parties broke them all. It was one of the darkest moments in USC’s history but many people felt surprisingly ambivalent about it. Bush was an elite player who was always going to make it to the NFL. USC received a two-year ban from bowl appearances as a result (via Deadline).


Todd Bozeman

Bozeman was at the center of the California Golden Bears’ darkest moments. The basketball coach infamously paid $30,000 to Jelani Gardner’s parents. Gardner’s family wanted to watch his games but they lived far away. They also weren’t happy with his playing time so Bozeman paid them off.

Baltimore Sun

The NCAA ruthlessly suspended Bozeman for eight years because he lied to them about the banned payments. There was also a serious sexual harassment case that tarnished his reputation. Miraculously, he bounced back and even worked in the NBA as a scout. He resumed college coaching with Morgan State for 13 years before joining Rhode Island (via Bleacher Report).

Blaine Ohigashi

Varsity Blues Scandal

This was one of the darkest moments in recent UCLA history because one of their former coaches went to jail. Jorge Salcedo was a college soccer coach who took $200,000 in bribes. He helped push the admission of two students in the Varsity Blues scandal that shook the nation. It was never going to end well because somebody always finds out (via ABC News).


Salcedo admitted that he broke the rules and created false backstories for the students. He also conspired with other coaches while recruiting others to join the devious scheme. In the end, he went to jail for eight months and received another year of supervised release. He apologized to the government, the college, and his loved ones because he knew he let them down.


Kentucky’s Cheerleading Scandal

Kentucky has one of the most prestigious cheerleading squads in the nation with 24 national titles. It’s an incredible record but that’s not why people were talking about them in 2020. The university fired the entire coaching staff after allegations of brutal hazing and sexual harassment (via Courier-Journal).


Allegedly, team members pressured female recruits into singing sexually explicit songs and stripping nude on a school-sponsored trip. Kentucky Cheer was on a boat with the full squad as well as the coaches. The staff members knew what was going on but didn’t intervene in one of the school’s darkest moments.

Tulane University Athletics

Tulane Basketball’s Shame

The Green Wave had one of the most notorious scandals in college sports history. It was so bad that the university president shut down their basketball program for almost half a decade. In 1985, it emerged that several players were involved in a points-shaving scheme that brought the sport to its knees.


Tulane resumed playing in 1989 but this was one of the school’s darkest moments. One game against Southern Mississippi gave the offending players away because several athletes played below their standards. Meanwhile, the basketball head coach also admitted to paying his players and this crossed the line (via Crescent City Sports).


The Wisconsin Marching Band

Most people wouldn’t expect a marching band to feature on this list but the Badgers are a unique case. Wisconsin banned their college marching band from attending football games because it went to their heads. In 2008, they suspended the musical group and prevented them from traveling to a game against Ohio State.

Jeff Miller

But the marching band had a history of bad behavior, boozing, and hazing. They infamously forced female members to kiss other women on the bus if they wanted to use the restroom. It was blatant sexual harassment and a lawsuit waiting to happen. In the end, the school intervened and taught them a harsh lesson (via UW-Madison).

Fox Sports

Florida Gators Scandal

Urban Meyer has a reputation for creating toxic environments and lowering the standards of college student behavior. The former Gators head coach bailed on the college after years of scandal. Dozens of players suffered arrests during his tenure. His saving grace was the two national championships they won but he also brought the school into its darkest moments.


The program allegedly used scholarship manipulation to build a stronger roster. Meanwhile, there was rampant drug use and bullying. It reached the stage that Meyer admitted to Stefon Diggs’ family that he wouldn’t allow his son into the locker room. The future Bills star joined Maryland instead and Meyer ran away (via Fansided).

Jason Vinlove

Defrauding the Government

Miami knows all about shady practices because they’ve done some dubious things. But defrauding the federal government was rich, even by their low standards. This was one of the darkest moments in college sports history. In 1989, the Hurricanes began forging applications for federal grant money.

Sports Illustrated

Then they awarded the money to their players in one of the most scandalous NCAA incidents ever. This rolled on into the ’90s before an investigation uncovered the truth. It’s amazing what schools will do when they’re trying to build football programs and retain talent. Morals go out the window because it’s all about the money (via Washington Post).


Georgetown Tennis Scandal

Gordon Ernst became a persona non grata on the Georgetown campus after one of the darkest moments in the school’s history. He admitted that he took bribes to recruit at least 12 students in a shocking story. This was corrupt, dishonest, and against the principles of an even playing field (via Orange County Register).

Georgetown University Athletics

According to ESPN, the Georgetown tennis coach received about three million dollars in bribes. The court hit him with a three-and-half-year jail sentence as penance for his crimes. Ernst admitted that he failed his athletes as well as his family. He said: “I’m most ashamed that I didn’t follow what I was preaching to them.”

New York Post

FSU Exam Cheating

Some schools forget that their primary purpose is education. They know that they can generate millions of dollars in revenue from college sports programs. That’s why FSU turned to shady practices in 2006 and 2007. There was a significant cheating scandal that involved 61 students in 10 different sports.


The students took an online test but received the answers before they sat it. Meanwhile, they didn’t even do other assignments as FSU handled it for them. The NCAA uncovered the truth and overturned their wins for the previous two seasons. It also had a profound effect on football coach Bobby Bowden’s legacy (via

Dallas Morning News

Navarro Cheerleading Cover-Up

Netflix turned Navarro’s cheerleading program into one of the nation’s most popular. However, since the Cheers series finished, several scandals arose. The first saw the college allegedly cover up the sexual assault of one of its cheerleaders. The lawsuit states that one woman was sexually assaulted by a male teammate (via Fox 4).


Reportedly, some male cheerleaders physically harassed and intimidated her to prevent her from speaking out. Unfortunately, Navarro’s recent history is sordid because of several sexual assaults. Meanwhile, cheerleader Jerry Harris went to jail because he possessed child pornography. He also attempted to cross state lines and meet an underage girl.

Hawk Central

Iowa Gambling Scandal

Several college gambling scandals broke out in 2023 after the Supreme Court legalized the practice in 2018. The state of Iowa saw two of its major schools endure the spotlight after suspicious bets. The University of Iowa announced that it was investigating 26 students for potentially breaking rules (via The Washington Post).

Jeff Spauer

Meanwhile, Iowa State said that it was analyzing its wrestling, football, and field teams. Legally, NCAA athletes can’t even bet on NBA games but in reality many do. This cast a dark shadow on the sports scene in the Hawkeye State. However, this may be the tip of the iceberg and more gambling scandals may emerge.


Baylor Sexual Assault Scandal

Baylor features again on this list because of another of the Texas school’s darkest moments. This time, the university protected football players from sexual assault accusations. They failed to report them in one of the most egregious decisions in NCAA history. This atrocious misconduct rocked the nation and reduced the public’s faith in college sports.


In the end, Tevin Elliot received a 20-year jail sentence after he committed two sexual assaults. A Texan court also convicted Sam Ukwuachu after discovering he committed a heinous crime. The NCAA didn’t crack down hard on Baylor despite the school’s obvious misconduct because they said they couldn’t under their rules (via Texas Tribune).

Wheaton University

Wheaton College Hazing

Most Americans probably have no idea where Wheaton College is but the private school made waves in 2017. They were at the forefront of one of the darkest moments in recent NCAA history. Nobody would describe them as a football powerhouse but their team made headlines for horrific hazing (via CBS News).

Michael Hudson

Allegedly, five players duct-taped their victim and placed a pillowcase over his head. They then threw him in a car, attempted to sodomize him, and abandoned him in a park. It’s a horrific accusation and we’ve no idea how they thought that they could get away with it. Meanwhile, the alleged victim understandably quit the program because it traumatized him.


Alabama Gambling Scandal

Baseball has a long and dubious association with illicit gambling but we don’t expect it at the college level. The Crimson Tide appears again on this list after another scandal in 2023. This time, an investigation connected the program’s head coach, Brian Bohannon to two suspicious bets (via USA Today Sports).


Bohannon placed these bets anonymously in Ohio ahead of Alabama’s game against LSU. But this immediately raised red flags and major betting operators, including Draft Kings, removed the Crimson Tide from listings. Bohannon allegedly bet heavily that the Tigers would beat Alabama. In the end, he was fired from his job for violating the school’s standards in one of its darkest moments.

CBS Sports

The Crimson Tide Murder

Brandon Miller joined the Charlotte Hornets in 2023 after he successfully made it through the NBA Draft. He also left one of the darkest moments of his life behind him. Police said that Miller supplied the gun that killed mother-of-one Jamea Harris. Meanwhile, one of his Crimson Tide teammates, Darius Miles, faced first-degree murder charges.

Larry Brown Sports

Critics couldn’t believe the way that Alabama protected their star player, Miller. They continued to play him without considering the consequences. Crimson Tide athletics staff described him as a ‘cooperative witness’ not a suspect. Miles texted Miller to bring his gun and the future NBA star agreed (via The Guardian).

Sports Illustrated

The SMU Death Penalty

This remains one of the darkest moments in NCAA history and a warning to every college sports program. SMU had one of the leading football teams in the nation through the eighties. But that’s because the school blatantly bribed college athletes and their families to join them. It was illegal but SMU didn’t care because they were winning.


However, the NCAA knew something was wrong and finally uncovered the reality. They hit SMU with a football death penalty in 1987 and this catapulted them into the wilderness for two decades. Suddenly, the Mustangs became irrelevant and it all came to nothing. It was a major humiliation for the college and the NCAA (via Time).

CBS Sports

The Northwestern Hazing Scandal

This hazing scandal emerged in 2023 after Northwestern’s university newspaper broke the story. It was stunning that the school’s students revealed the truth before the national press. They revealed a dark hazing culture at the Illinois school. Allegedly, seniors forced freshmen to strip naked and perform degrading acts.

Fox News

Meanwhile, they reportedly wore Purge-style masks and dry-humped their victims in the locker room. The details are very disturbing but the worst part is that their coaches allegedly condoned this behavior. Long-serving head coach Pat Fitzgerald lost his job but the school faced accusations of an attempted cover-up (via The Guardian).


Penn State Child Abuse

This remains one of the most harrowing stories in NCAA history because it involves children. The question is what did Penn State and Joe Paterno know about Jerry Sandusky’s horrific crimes? Sandusky served as Paterno’s assistant coach for many years but retired in 1999. However, he still had access to the campus and worked with the team (via Bleacher Report).

Morning Call

But Sandusky abused dozens of children in the area at high schools, summer camps, and other places. It emerged that the university, including its legendary football coach, failed to report potential child sex abuse. In the end, a lot of people lost their jobs while Sandusky went to jail for the rest of his life. That doesn’t change that it was the darkest moment in the victims’ lives.