Flagrant Fouls

The College Basketball Real-Life Top 25

Reality television may be all the rage these days, but you won't see much of it in CBS's coverage of the NCAA college basketball tournament. For a look at the reality of college hoops—the bloated coaching salaries, the player arrests, the questionable fan behavior, the anemic graduation rates—look no further than the real-life top 25.

1. DUKE (29-4) The Blue Devils have been the NCAA's angels in recent years, but an indiscretion by a former player may cost Duke $180,000 in tournament winnings. According to grand jury testimony, former Dukie and current L.A. Clipper Corey Maggette accepted $2000 from his former AAU coach, Myron Piggie. In pleading guilty in May to a federal conspiracy charge, Piggie admitted to paying five ballers to play on his teams while they were in high school. Maggette, who left Duke after his freshman season, has denied involvement, but federal prosecutors intend to ask him to testify. Depending on his testimony, Duke may have to return money it received for its trip to the 1999 Final Four if it is ruled that Maggette committed an infraction. (Graduation rate, all students: 92 %; basketball players: 75 %; black players: 83 %.)

2. STANFORD (28-2) Stanford athletics is the class of the NCAA. Unfortunately, the same can't be said of the school's basketball fans, who are known for their over-the-line behavior and exhaustive research of opposing players' personal lives. In addition to throwing coins and other objects on the floor at Maples Pavilion when calls don't go Stanford's way, the fans in Palo Alto have been accused of aiming downright offensive vitriol at opponents. Two seasons ago, for instance, the student section chanted "Your son hates you" at USC coach Henry Bibby, who has been estranged from his son, Mike (a star NBA point guard), since the latter was a young boy. This year, a fan reportedly directed a profanity-laced, personal verbal attack at UCLA senior guard Earl Watson as he walked to the team bus following the Bruins' 79-73 upset win over the Cardinal. (Graduation rate, all students: 92 %; basketball players: 100 %; black players: 100 %.)

3. MICHIGAN STATE (24-4) Spartan fans just can't handle success. During the team's 1999 visit to the Final Four, as many as 10,000 people ran through the streets of East Lansing after Michigan State lost to Duke in the semis, setting fires, throwing bottles, and tearing down street signs. According to reports, 136 were arrested during that melee. Last year's championship celebration was much calmer, but still, 61 were arrested after the semifinal and final games. Head coach Tom Izzo has no problem with success, however. The coach was given a new, seven-year contract worth $1.1 million a year for taking the Spartans to the 2000 championship. (Graduation rate, all students: 65 %; basketball players: 80 %; black players: 67 %.)

4. ARIZONA (23-7) Call Tucson "Suspension Central." Center Loren Woods has been suspended twice this year—once for six games by the NCAA for accepting money from a family friend and again last month by coach Lute Olson for missing practice. Teammate Richard Jefferson was also suspended by the NCAA (for one game) for accepting airfare and tickets to the NBA Finals from NBA legend and NBC announcer Bill Walton, who is also the father of Jefferson's best friend and teammate Luke Walton. Jefferson will also have to pay $281 to a charity of his choice by the end of the season as restitution. Finally, Arizona coaches suspended Wildcat Gene Edgerson for two games in January for complaining about playing time. (Graduation rate, all students: 52 %; basketball players: 17 %; black players: 11 %.)

5. NORTH CAROLINA (25-6) Rival Duke fans are known as the "Cameron Crazies," but it was some 6000 Tar Heel hooligans who started a bonfire and flipped a parked car in Chapel Hill after UNC's surprising 85-83 win at Durham last month. New Carolina coach Matt Doherty, meanwhile, abandoned his duties as the headman at Notre Dame with four years remaining on his five-year contract. Doherty partisans argue that his South Bend deal included a "Carolina clause" that allowed him to leave once a job opened up at his alma mater. (Graduation rate, all students: 82 %; basketball players: 62 %; black players: 44 %.)

6. ILLINOIS (24-7) The Fighting Illini are among the few teams that still cling to their highly offensive mascots. But a group of Illinois faculty, working with the National Coalition on Racism in Sports and Media, is leading a campaign to retire Chief Illiniwek, a student clad in headdress, war paint, and an Indian costume, who performs at Illinois football and basketball games. Faculty activists are threatening to contact potential incoming Illinois student-athletes and dissuade them from attending a school that is so insensitive to Native Americans. The group claimed victory last summer, saying their arguments persuaded Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson—who is part Native American—not to take the Illinois basketball coaching position, which was open at the time. (Graduation rate, all students: 77 %; basketball players: 40 %; black players: 50 %.)

7. BOSTON COLLEGE (26-4) Coach Al Skinner has led the Eagles to a remarkable turnaround, from 11-19 a year ago to 10th in the country this year. But in college hoops, to paraphrase a popular cliché, comeback's a bitch. Two players—senior guard Kenny Harley and freshman forward Andrew Bryant—were arrested in January on assault charges stemming from a barroom brawl. The school has said it will not discipline the players until the case has been resolved. At press time, the charges were still pending (a hearing was postponed until April 9) and the Bronx-born Harley was still playing; Bryant is being redshirted. (Graduation rate, all students: 86 %; basketball players: 64 %; black players: 60 %. Athletes make up 46 % of all black male undergrads.)

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