This is the next in a series of posts in which you, the savvy Kentucky fan, will learn (if you don’t already know) how to debunk popular arguments that opposing fans might throw at you.
The Argument: “Kentucky is the biggest cheater in NCAA history. You are a repeat violator and probably should be given a permenant death penalty in basketball. You can keep the football team, though.”
The Truth: This is one we’ve all heard with increasing frequency in the past year. The reason? It’s easy. Instead of believing that the greatest recruiter Earth has ever known, coupled with the #1 basketball tradition can consistenly reel in blue chip recruits, it’s easiest to believe that he cheats to get them. They then quickly refer to UK’s general “history” as to why they’re only a great program because they cheated to get there. Again, a lazy argument. Let me tell you why-
For starters, let’s admit our shortcomings. As a program, we do have quite the spicy history of NCAA rules violations. The most obvious was covered by Sports Illustrated above where a Kentucky booster sent cash to recruit Chris Mills and another player, Eric Manuel, received “assistance” with his SAT. The NCAA very nearly gave UK the “death penalty” which would have shut the program down for at least one entire season. But for my money, that’s not the worst UK violation.
The worst, in my opinion, is the point-shaving scandal that broke out during the ’52-’53 season. It was alleged that three UK players, including legends Ralph Beard and Alex Groza shaved points during an NIT game against Loyola-Chicago in return for $1,500 each. The NCAA ultimately gave the entire UK athletics department the death penalty for the ’52-’53 season. Not only did it hurt the program, but both Groza and Beard were banned from basketball. Both would have likely ended up in the Hall of Fame and been mentioned in the same breath as George Mikan.
So yes, opposing fan, we’ve had our share of misdeeds. But we’re far from being alone. Far. Please refer to the following chart:
Sorry it turned out so small…
As you can see, UK is in good company with NCAA infractions. In fact, thanks to the handy Major Infraction Search on the NCAA website, we find that schools such as Maryland, Kansas, Florida, Syracuse, Pitt, Ohio State (twice), Louisville (twice), Purdue, Minnesota, Gon-freaking-zaga, Arkansas, Villanova and Indiana have had NCAA infractions since Kentucky last had theirs in 1988. Heck, Kansas last had a violation in 2006. Also, to be clear, North Carolina and Duke both have a major rules infractions on their record. And why don’t we hear anyone lambasting those slimeballs at Arizona State?
So what does it all mean? It means that no one school can claim piety and point the finger at others claiming they cheat to win. Every school has bent the rules at some point and Kentucky is no different. So you can say that Kentucky is the biggest cheater, but that’s factually inaccurate. And they’re hardly alone. In fact, UK has been cleaner longer than a lot of schools. Thank you, Sandy Bell.
And let’s not even get started on UCLA…