When it comes to not educating student-athletes while letting the creepier ones loose in the community, spending egregious amounts of money on coaches and facilities, and generally displaying high-handed arrogance, America's collegiate basketball factories are doing a splendid job. Leaving aside their court prowess, here's our Nasty Nine of major men's programs (with their records entering the NCAA tourney). March madness, indeed.
1. Cincinnati (27-3) Long ago forsaking the legacy of Oscar Robertson, the Bearcats have a rich legacy of off-court flaps and post-season flops. Cincy lost to UCLA last weekendthe fifth time in the past six seasons it has lost to a lower seed in the second round. Bearcat center Donald Little was arrested twice last Mayonce in connection with a bar fight (he pleaded guilty to fourth-degree misdemeanor disorderly conduct and was sentenced to three months' probation and $120 in fines, and ordered to take anger-management classes) and again for DUI (he pleaded guilty to reckless driving, having an open container, and driving without a license). Coach Bob Huggins kicked him off the team over the summer, but reinstated him in the fall. (Graduation rate, all students: 43 percent; basketball players: 8 percent)
2. Indiana (19-10) Those who don't learn from Hoosier history are doomed to repeat it. Second-year head man Mike Davis was fined $10,000 by the Big Ten after he criticized the refs following an IU loss to Butler. "If I wasn't the lowest-paid coach in the Big Ten, I'd tell you how I really feel about this game," he was quoted as saying. Now he's getting paid a bit more. Under a new deal signed last month, Davis, scheduled to make $175,000 this season, will make $225,000 each of the next three seasons. IU is still paying for the sins of Bobby Knight: The school has been sued twice once by a group of fans, and once by the Indianapolis Starfor allegedly withholding information about Bobby Knight's termination, and has been forced to pay nearly $300,000 in legal fees to defend itself (the fans' case was dismissed, but the Star matter is still pending). In addition, buying out Knight's contract cost more than $300,000. (Graduation rate, all students: 67 percent; basketball players: 43 percent)
3. Florida (21-7) Gator coach Billy Donovan dismissed starting guard Teddy Dupay from the team in September after his name turned up in an on-campus gambling investigation. Dupay, best known for his cheap-shot foul on Michigan State's Mateen Cleaves in the 2000 NCAA championship game, allegedly shared in winnings that fellow UF student Kresten Lagerman (a finance major, no less) received from a bookmaker. Dupay allegedly gave Lagerman inside information about whether the Gators could cover point spreads. The guard, who was listed as an uncharged co-defendant in a complaint filed by the school's police department, had not been charged in the case as of press time. (Graduation rate, all students: 67 percent; basketball players: 40 percent)
4. Kentucky (20-8) Several weeks ago, coach Tubby Smith suspended sophs Gerald Fitch and Cory Sears for one game after they reportedly got into a fight on the team plane following a road loss at Georgia. Then he suspended Fitch and soph Erik Daniels a couple of weeks later for allegedly using fake IDs to get into a nightclub. (Graduation rate, all students: 52 percent; basketball players: 55 percent)
5. Georgia (21-8) Coach Jim Harrick dismissed Tony Cole from the team in January after the guard was accused of rape by a UGA student. While Athens-Clarke County prosecutors continued to debate whether or not to file charges, Harrick reportedly reinstated Cole, but the player hadn't practiced or played with the team since the alleged incident. In addition, Harrick suspended Steve Thomas, who was also accused in the alleged incident, for three games; Thomas hasn't been charged, either. (Graduation rate, all students: 64 percent; basketball players: 36 percent)
6. Arkansas (14-14) Coach Nolan Richardson went ballistic a few weeks ago at a press conference, accusing fans and reporters of treating him differently because he's black. After he bitterly said, "If they go ahead and pay me my money, they can take the job tomorrow," the school took him up on it, saying he was out and giving him $3 million over the next six years. Richardson's lawyer now says the coach hadn't intended to threaten to leave and wants his job back. (Graduation rate, all students: 44 percent; basketball players: 0 percent)
7. Houston (16-13) Houston coach Ray McCallum, we have a problem. Late last month, McCallum suspended four playersKevin Gaines, Dominic Smith, Marcus Oliver, and Louis Truscottfor various alleged indiscretions during a Cougar road trip. Smith, Oliver, and Truscott, who reportedly missed curfew, were all reinstated last week after they reportedly underwent "administrative program consultation." But Gaines remains in a North Carolina jail in lieu of $10,300 bail after being charged with assaulting a woman outside a nightclub near East Carolina University. The alleged assault occurred a few hours after East Carolina blew out the Cougars, 63-46. (Graduation rate, all students: 36 percent; basketball players: 17 percent)
8. New Mexico (15-12) This season was the the pits in the Pit, the legendary home court for the Lobos. Coach Fran Fraschilla, noted in his days as St. John's head coach for dropping trou in front of his players, accused refs after a 50-47 win this season at Air Force of favoring the flyboys because of September 11. He had to make a formal apologyand that was after a win. He got into further trouble when a university report noted that his squad had the lowest average GPA of any of the school's athletic teamswhile Fraschilla was chairman of the National Association of Basketball Coaches' Committee on Academics. Nine players quit the program during the coach's three-year tenure, and two othersPatrick Dennehy and Marlon Parmerwere disciplined this season for arguments with teammates and/or coaches during games. New Mexico legislators publicly called for Fraschilla's dismissal. Finally, instead of dropping trou again, Fraschilla pulled up anchor, quitting his job last weekend. (Graduation rate, all students: 38 percent; basketball players: 0 percent)
9. UConn (21-6) School spirit isn't a two-way street at the University of Connecticut. Just think of the gas money and parking fees paid by Huskies fans for the nine home games the team plays at the Hartford Civic Center, located 25 miles from the Storrs campus. No cracker box, the campus gym seats more than 10,000, but Hartford has a bigger arena. So who cares if it's inconvenient for students? As one school official told a newspaper earlier this season, "There are 16,294 seats at $27 a pop. It's a financial no-brainer." (Graduation rate, all students: 67 percent; basketball players: 50 percent)
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