20 biggest sports scandals of all time

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20 biggest sports scandals
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20 biggest sports scandals of all time

20. Reggie Bush forfeits Heisman, USC hammered by the NCAA

From 2003 to 2005, Reggie Bush gained national recognition as one of the most electric players we have ever seen in college football.

Bush finished his career with 6,551 all-purpose yards and 42 total touchdowns, earning a reputation as a player capable of breaking off a touchdown on any given play. Entering the 2005 college football season, he had already helped bring a BCS National Championship to USC, in addition to two AP national titles. He was also coming off a sophomore season in which he was named the 2004 Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year and a consensus All-American.

As a junior, Bush compiled 18 total touchdowns while leading the nation with 2,218 yards from scrimmage and an astonishing 8.7 yards per carry. That year, he led the Trojans to a BCS National Championship runner-up performance, earned consensus All-American and Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year honors once again and was named the winner of the Doak Walker, Walter Camp and AP Player of the Year Awards.

The most prestigious accolade, however, came when he was named the seventh player in USC history to win the Heisman Trophy.

Unfortunately, his legendary collegiate career would be followed by a scandal that received just as much media attention. It was discovered that Bush and his family had accepted impermissible benefits from an aspiring sports agent, and as a result, the running back would forfeit his 2005 Heisman Trophy.

USC would pay the biggest price, though.

The NCAA handed down one of the harshest punishments in the organization’s controversial history, in what appeared to be an overzealous attempt to send a message.

The Trojans received a two-year postseason ban, a reduction in scholarships and all wins that Bush participated in dating back to December 2004 were vacated. USC’s 2004 national title was also vacated by the Bowl Championship Series.

(Photo by Kirby Lee/Getty Images)

19. USA basketball loses gold medal match to Soviet Union in the 1972 Olympics

In 1972, the United States and the Soviet Union were in the middle of the Cold War, a period of extreme political tension between the two nations. Sports was viewed as an escape from all of this, but that changed in the basketball gold medal match of the 1972 Olympics in Munich.

With three seconds remaining, American guard Doug Collins sank two free throws to take a 50-49 lead. The next three seconds of play would go down as one of most infamous moments in Olympic history.

The Soviets inbounded the ball, but play was stopped due to a disturbance caused by their assistant coach regarding not being awarded a timeout during the previous free throw. Rather than assessing a technical foul for disrupting play, the officials cancelled the play altogether.

On the following inbound play, a clock malfunction caused the final horn to sound after just one second, as the Americans tipped the Soviet pass out-of-bounds. The United States began to celebrate what they thought to be a victory. Once again, however, the play was wiped out and their opponent was awarded yet another chance.

This time, everything fell into place for the Soviets, as they connected on a length-of-the-court pass that led to an uncontested lay-up with time expiring. After losing a protest, the USA basketball team refused to accept their silver medals.

Over four decades later, the Americans still refuse to acknowledge the controversial Soviet victory.

Per Daily Mail:

“If there hadn’t been the scandal, the controversy, if we’d lost that game fair and square I would proudly wear a silver medal,” Michael Bantom, a forward on the 1972 team said. “But it doesn’t matter if it’s one year, ten years or forty years it doesn’t make sense for me to accept the medal I don’t think I deserve.”

Current USA basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski remembers the event as ‘a shocking example of politics meddling in sport.’

(Photo credit should read STAFF/AFP/Getty Images)

18. Danny Almonte and the 2001 Bronx Little League team

In 2001, the Rolando Paulino All-Stars from the Bronx took America by storm, led by a dominant pitcher named Danny Almonte.

Almonte quickly became the star of the Little League World Series. He recorded thefirst perfect game in the tournament’s history, striking out 16 batters. He topped out at 76-MPH on the radar gun, equivalent to 103-MPH at the MLB-level.

It was evident that the 5-foot-9 lefty had talent beyond his years. Unfortunately, it turns out that there was a good reason behind this.

Sports Illustrated uncovered that Almonte was actually two years too old to play Little League Baseball.

According to birth records in the Dominican Republic, where he was born, Almonte’s father registered his son’s birth for a second time in March of 2000. This time, he changed his birth year from 1987 to 1989. The registration occurred just weeks before Almonte would move to the states and become a Little League sensation.

Head coach Rolando Paulino and Almonte’s father had worked in conjunction in attempting to gain the competitive advantage. As a result, all of the team’s records, including their third-place finish and Almonte’s perfect game, were erased from the Little League record books.

(AP Photo/Chris Gardner)

17. Tonya Harding — Nancy Kerrigan

The Tonya Harding — Nancy Kerrigan incident of 1994 featured a shocking combination of win-at-all-costs attitude, hit men and an FBI investigation that would be unprecedented in almost any sport, much less the graceful art of figure skating.

With Harding in danger of missing the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympics, she allegedly turned to a trio of goons, including her ex-husband Jeff Gillooly, in order to derail her top competition. Kerrigan was considered the favorite to win the U.S. Figure Skating Championships that year, and was the main obstacle standing between Harding and her second trip to the Olympics.

On January 6th, Kerrigan was assaulted following a practice round for the championships. Shane Stant, who was hired by Gillooly and Harding’s bodyguard Shawn Eckhardt to carry out the attack, clubbed Kerrigan with a baton just above her right knee.

The incident caused her to withdraw from the event, which Harding would win, sending her to the Olympics. Kerrigan was still able to perform in Lillehammer as well, though, and managed to walk away with a silver medal. Harding would finish in eighth place.

All three men involved would face jail time.

Harding admitted that she learned of the plan after the attack, and failed to come forward to the authorities. According to her ex-husband, however, she was very much involved in the conspiracy to injure Kerrigan.

(Photo credit should read CHRIS WILKINS/AFP/Getty Images)

16. Lance Armstrong admits to using PEDs

During his reign of dominance over the sport of cycling, Lance Armstrong was one of the most uplifting stories in all of sports.

Two years removed from winning a near-fatal bout with testicular cancer, Armstrong began a streak of seven consecutive Tour de France victories that would span from 1999 to 2005. Due to the feel-good nature of his personal story, as well as his tremendous charity work in supporting cancer patients through the Livestrong Foundation, he became an iconic figure in the world of sports.

Unfortunately, these accomplishments would be tarnished by performance-enhancing-drug use.

In 2010, disgraced former teammate Floyd Landis made startling accusations against the legendary cyclist, claiming that the he had been using PEDs throughout his career. Two and a half years later, Armstrong came clean during an interview with Oprah Winfrey.

During the interview, he admitted to using some form of blood doping or PEDs during all seven of his Tour wins.

The admission occurred as evidence from a U.S. Anti-Doping Agency investigationmounted against him. Consequently, Armstrong was stripped of all of his Tour de France titles, as well as his 2000 Olympic bronze medal.

While it does not excuse his transgression’s, the USADA report that implicated him pointed out a much larger problem at hand: eighty percent of the Tour de France medalists from 1996 to 2010 were similarly connected to blood doping or PED use.

(Photo by George Burns/Oprah Winfrey Network via Getty Images)

15. Pete Rose banned from baseball

There is no doubt that Pete Rose is one of the greatest players in baseball history.

He finished his 24-year career as the all-time MLB leader in hits, a record that still stands today. Along the way, he picked up a Rookie of the Year Award, the 1973 National League MVP and was named an All-Star 17 times. He was also a part of the 1976 Cincinnati Reds World Series Championship team.

Rose would go on to manage the Reds following his illustrious playing career, where his affinity for gambling would land him in serious trouble with the league.

It is no secret that he loved to gamble, but once rumors emerged that he was betting on baseball, a hefty punishment was certain to be on the way. On August 24, 1989, the MLB’s all-time hits leader was banned from baseball for life.


“One of the game’s greatest players has engaged in a variety of acts which have stained the game, and he must now live with the consequences of those acts,” MLB commissioner Bart Giamatti said to a stunned room full of reporters.

While still banned permanently from baseball, Rose was granted a temporary exception to attend the 2015 MLB All-Star Game in Cincinnati, where the fans voted him to be honored as a member of the Reds’ “Franchise Four”.

(AP Photo/Charles Kelly)

14. Diego Maradona and the ‘Hand of God’

With the Falklands War occurring just four years earlier, there was no love lost between England and Argentina during their 1986 World Cup quarterfinals match.

In the 51st minute of the game, a failed clearing attempt sent the ball heading toward England’s goalkeeper. As he went to punch the ball away, however, the star of the Argentina national team, Diego Maradona, leaped into the air and used his left hand to tap the ball into the net. The officials did not see the infraction, and the goal would go down in World Cup history as the ‘Hand of God’, one of the most controversial moments in the tournament’s history.

Maradona scored just a few minutes later, as he weaved his way past several defenders for a legal goal. Argentina would win the match 2-1, sending England home furious.

Following the thrilling victory, Maradona delivered a memorable quote that would give his notorious goal its fitting nickname.

Per The Telegraph:

“[The goal was scored] a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God.”

Argentina would go on to defeat West Germany to claim the World Cup Championship. Maradona was honored with the Golden Ball, given to the best player of the tournament.

(AP Photo/El Grafico, Buenos Aires)

13. Black Sox scandal

In 1919, the Chicago White Sox were widely considered the best team in baseball. After winning the American League pennant with an 88-52 record, they were the favorites to beat the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series.

During a time when fixing baseball games was not unprecedented, eight members of the White Sox did the unthinkable: they threw the World Series.

The scandal involved mob connections, wealthy gamblers and death threats, as well as a complete disregard for the integrity of the game. The players involved were allegedly promised $100,000 for their actions.

Among those involved was one of the greatest players that baseball had ever seen, outfielder Shoeless Joe Jackson, whose .359 career batting average ranks third all-time. The other perpetrators were first baseman Arnold Gandil, pitchers Eddie Cicotte and Claude Williams, outfielder Oscar Felsch and infielders Swede Risberg, Buck Weaver and Fred McMullin.

The Reds won the series five games to three.

While the players would not be charged criminally for their actions, all eight were banned from baseball for life in 1921 by commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis. The incident remains one of the most infamous occurrences in sports history, and is known as the Black Sox scandal.

(Photo by New York Times Co./Getty Images)

12. Salt Lake City 2002 Olympics bribery scandal

The 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City was the first time the games were hosted in the United States since 1980. Unfortunately, a cloud of controversy followed the event, starting shortly after the city was awarded the games.

In what is often considered the biggest scandal in Olympic history, organizers behind Salt Lake City’s bid were found to have bribed members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in a successful attempt to buy votes.

The allegations sparked an investigation that began in 1998, leading to the indictment of five members of the city’s bid committee. Among those involved were the former president and vice president of the group. Charges included conspiracy to commit bribery, fraud and racketeering.

Per the New York Times:

The 15-count indictment alleges that Thomas K. Welch, 55, the former president of the Salt Lake City bid committee, and David Johnson, 41, the former vice president, paid $1 million to improperly influence votes of more than a dozen delegates of the International Olympic Committee, which awards the host sites for the Winter and Summer Games.

As a result of the investigations, voting inconsistencies were found dating back to 1988, although the Salt Lake City games were the only event that led to criminal indictments. In addition, 10 members of the IOC were expelled as a result, and a total of 20 faced sanctions.

(AP Photo/Douglas C. Pizac)

11. New England Patriots history of cheating

The New England Patriots have established themselves as the most successful team in the NFL since the turn of the century, winning a total of four Super Bowls and appearing in six.

This success has not come without controversy, however, as the organization has earned a reputation for cheating along the way.

The first alleged incident dates back to their 2002 Super Bowl victory over the St. Louis Rams, the first of the Bill Belichick era. Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk claims that the Patriots videotaped the Rams’ walkthrough prior to the game.

These allegations were backed up by the 2007 SpyGate scandal, in which the Patriots were caught filming signals from their opponents, a practice that they had been using since 2002. The organization was fined $250,000, lost their 2008 first round draft pick and Belichick was handed down a $500,000 fine.

Most recently, the team’s star quarterback behind their success, Tom Brady, was implicated in the DeflateGate scandal. The NFL discovered that members of the Patriots locker room staff had illegally deflated all but one of the game balls for their 2014 AFC Championship victory over the Indianapolis Colts, and Brady was at least ‘generally aware’ of the situation. The quarterback was suspended four games as a result, a punishment which he is currently appealing.

DeflateGate may not be as egregious as the team’s illegal videotaping of opponents, but regardless, it continues a pattern of circumventing the rules that many believe has been a stable of the Patriots dynasty.

(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

10. SMU gets the death penalty

The NCAA has long been criticized for the harsh nature of the punishments they hand down, but none come close to the sanctions that the Southern Methodist University football program received in 1987.

After years of major violations regarding the paying of student-athletes, the SMU Mustangs were clearly in the NCAA’s crosshairs. They were one of the most powerful teams in the most powerful league in college football, the Southwest Conference.

They were also located in Dallas, Texas, a thriving city in a state with an extreme passion for the game of football. SMU would claim back-to-back national titles in 1981 and 1982 (although the latter is widely disputed). Given the team’s success, it is no surprise that money came pouring in from wealthy boosters who wanted a connection to the program.

Unfortunately, this connection extended to the student athletes, who were paid a total of approximately $47,000 during the 1985-1986 academic year. This was just the latest of a long list of infractions, and in February of 1987, the program received the “death penalty” from the NCAA.

Their punishment included a three-year probation, two-year bowl ban and a one season live TV ban. The program was disbanded for the 1987 and 1988 football seasons, and has never been able to regain national prominence to this date.

SMU was far from the only school who was guilty of such practices, as pay-for-play was rampant in college football at the time. They were the most notorious offenders, though, and the NCAA made an example of them as a result.

 (AP Photo/David Breslauer)

9. 2015 FIFA corruption case

FIFA has never been thought to be free of corruption and scandal, but the events onthe morning of May 27, 2015 shined a light on just how widespread and serious the problems within the organization were.

Swiss authorities raided a hotel in Zurich, arresting seven top-ranking executives from the world’s governing body of football on charges stemming from an FBI investigation. The United States would indict a total of 14 FIFA officials and corporate executives on charges of racketeering conspiracy and corruption.

Among those indicted were two current FIFA vice presidents, as well as the current and former presidents of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF). While not charged criminally, FIFA President Sepp Blatter was also a major part of the investigation, and has announced his intentions to resign once a new president is named.

The indictments come following the controversial awarding of the 2018 Russia and 2022 Qatar World Cups. The investigation goes back much farther than these two bidding processes, though, and has unveiled over two decades of corruption at the top of the organization.

A centerpiece of the investigation is an alleged $10 million bribe, which secured votes for the 2010 South Africa World Cup.

(Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

8. Tim Donaghy NBA betting scandal

Shocking revelations involving a veteran referee, mob associates and a betting scandal rocked the NBA community in the summer of 2007. Just over a year later, the referee involved, Tim Donaghy, was sentenced to 15 months in prison for his actions.

Donaghy had a severe gambling addiction, and allegedly made tens of thousands of dollars in bets on NBA games from 2005 to 2007. During this time, point spreads were significantly affected by games in which he officiated. His involvement in the scheme was revealed when his name came up during an unrelated FBI investigation into organized crime.

In addition to the negative publicity that Donaghy brought upon the NBA, he also revived one of the league’s biggest conspiracies: the alleged fixing of Game 6 of the 2002 NBA Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings.

The game featured one of the most embarrassing displays of officiating in the history of the sport, and allowed the Lakers to come back and eventually advance to the finals, where they won their third consecutive NBA championship.

Donaghy claimed that one of the referees officiating the game informed him that they were working in the league’s interest to force a Game 7.

(Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images)

7. The Steroids Era in baseball

From the late 1980s through the late 2000s, Major League Baseball saw a dramatic spike in power hitting numbers.

Little known players morphed into sluggers. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa took fans on a ride for an exhilarating home run race, eclipsing Roger Maris’ single season record of 61 home runs that had stood for 37 years. And Barry Bonds set the record once again three years later with 73 home runs, 24 more than his previous career-best, en route to becoming the MLB’s all-time home run leader.

In 2003, however, this glorious era of baseball took a turn for the worse that would leave a dark cloud hanging over sport for years to come.

A company named BALCO had its San Fransisco Bay Area office raided the IRS and a local narcotics task force. The same occurred with Bonds’ personal trainer, Greg Anderson. The raids stemmed from a U.S. Anti-Doping Agency investigation into undetectable steroids being used by professional athletes.

Bonds was the poster boy of the emerging scandal, but the scope of the problem was much larger. Dozens of athletes were subpoenaed to testify in the investigation, and the revelations prompted baseball to develop strict performance-enhancing-drug testing and punishments.

In 2007, the Mitchell Report implicated 89 current and former MLB players for using PEDs, including many who were on their way to the Hall of Fame before the report was released. Sosa was discovered to be one of 104 players who tested positive during an anonymous 2003 survey, and McGwire would admit to steroid usage in 2010.

Baseball made tremendous strides in moving away from this dark period in its history by the harsh punishments it gave to players involved in the recent Biogenesis Scandal. Remnants of the Steroids Era still remain, however, as serial cheater Alex Rodriguez continues to solidify his place in the record books.

(AP Photo/Tony Avelar, File)

6. Tiger Woods busted for infidelity

When Tiger Woods won his 14th career major championship at the 2008 U.S. Open, there was little doubt that he was on his way to breaking Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors. It appeared as if nothing could get in his way, not even the torn knee ligament that sidelined him for the remainder of the season.

Then, in the late hours of Thanksgiving 2009, Woods hopped into his Cadillac Escalade under the effects of Ambien and Vicodin, crashed into a tree and laid unconscious in the street. The circumstances surrounding the incident appeared to be a domestic disturbance.

Over the next few weeks, Woods’ personal life would come crashing down.

The professional golfer was exposed for having up to 120 marital affairs. His wife, Elin Nordegran, would receive a $750 million settlement and custody of their two kids in exchange for her silence in regards to the sordid details of his infidelity.

Woods’ golfing career has never been the same.

He has not won a major championship in seven years, and it is unclear if he ever will again. After experiencing success in 2012 and 2013, Woods’ performance on the course has been disappointing for much of the past two years.

At this point, any chance of catching Nicklaus appears all but shot.

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

5. Kobe Bryant sexual assault case

Kobe Bryant drew disdain from many NBA fans during the early to mid 2000s for his ongoing feud with teammate Shaquille O’Neal, which eventually led to the MVP center being traded to the Miami Heat.

It was a 2003 felony sexual assault accusation against the Los Angeles Lakers star, however, that would entrench him as a villain in the eyes of the public.

The alleged incident took place on June 30th of that year, leaving Bryant facing a potential jail sentence of four years to life in prison and a $750,000 fine. He admitted to committing adultery, but maintained his innocence in regards to the assault, shooting down the accusations during a public apology and purchasing his wife a $4 million diamond ring.

The criminal case against Bryant was eventually dropped after the accuser refused to testify, though he still paid out a settlement of an undisclosed amount in a civil case that she filed against him.

As a result of his sexual assault arrest, it is estimated that Bryant lost somewhere between $4 million and $6 million in marketing deals and endorsements. In 2006, he made the decision to change his jersey number from No. 8 to No. 24 in an attempt to distance his public image from that of his younger self that was viewed unfavorably by many fans.

(AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)

4. Jim Thorpe stripped of his Olympic gold medals

Jim Thorpe is widely considered one of the most versatile athletes in the history of sports. Thorpe was named “The Greatest Athlete of the First Half of the Century” by the Associated Press, and his long list of accomplishments is nothing short of outstanding.

As a college football player at Carlisle Indian School, he emerged as a star that could dominate at nearly any position on the field. He was named an All-American twice, while also competing in baseball, track and lacrosse.

The Jim Thorpe Award, given annually to the best defensive back in college football, is named in his honor. In addition, Thorpe would help found the American Professional Football Association, which eventually developed into the National Football League.

Thorpe’s most impressive athletic feat, however, was taken away from him in 1913.

At the 1912 Stockholm Olympics, he delivered a record-setting performance, winning the decathlon and pentathlon. Thorpe was beloved by fans when he returned home, but months later, his amateur status was revoked as a result of him playing minor league baseball prior to the Olympics. Despite the protest from the Amateur Athletic Union coming far past the legal limit of 30 days after the closing ceremony, the International Olympic Committee voted to strip him of his records and medals from the events.

Many believe the elimination of his records had more to do with Thorpe’s Native American heritage than it did the question of his amateur status, however.

“Those Olympic records are the best proof that he was superb, and they aren’t official,” Kate Buford, author of the Jim Thorpe biography, Native American Son, toldSmithsonian Magazine. “He’s like the phantom contender.”

His medals were eventually restored in 1983, long after he had passed away.

The fact that Thorpe’s accomplishments were not even a part of the Olympics’ official history for so long further adds to the myth surrounding one of the greatest athletes of all-time.

(Photo by PhotoQuest/Getty Images)

3. Penn State sex abuse scandal

The Penn State sex abuse scandal rocked college football and incurred a serious black eye on the legacy of one of the greatest coaches in the sport’s history.

Joe Paterno was thought of as a lovable and legendary coach throughout the majority of his career, but a grand jury report released on November 4, 2011 would change all of that. As it turned out, one of his longtime assistant coaches, Jerry Sandusky, had been sexually assaulting young boys under his watch since the 1990s. Even worse, Paterno had been aware of the accusations for nearly a decade.

The assaults began in 1994, with the first investigation by university police occurring in 1998. The following year, Sandusky retired. Despite his retirement, however, he was still given full access to the university and football program. The assaults continued, with a graduate assistant, Mike McQueary informing Paterno in 2002 of an incident he witnessed firsthand in the Penn State football building.

The head coach informed Athletic Director Tim Curley of the incident. No legal action was taken, although his access to the building was restricted.

An investigation into Sandusky that began in 2008 would eventually lead to the grand jury findings. Ultimately, Paterno and President Graham Spanier were fired in 2011 as a result, and the football program was handed down severe punishments by the NCAA (which were later reduced). Sandusky will be behind bars for the rest of his life.

Penn State has rebounded from the scandal in recent years, but the atrocities that members of the university could have helped prevent will never be forgotten.

(AP Photo/Paul Vathis, File)

2. O.J. Simpson murder trial

O.J. Simpson is without a doubt one of the most polarizing sports figures of the 20th century.

Simpson rose to national prominence at USC, where he became a two-time consensus All-American and was named the recipient of the 1968 Heisman Trophy. He would go on to experience a successful pro career after being drafted No .1 overall by the Buffalo Bills in 1969. Simpson claimed four rushing titles and the 1973 MVP Award on his way to a Hall of Fame career.

On June, 12 1994, though, his ex-wife, Nicole Brown, and her friend Ronald Goldman were found murdered outside of her home. Shortly after, Simpson led police on a highly publicized chase in an infamous white Ford Bronco, which ended with him being charged with two counts of murder.

The trial turned into a media spectacle that ended with Simpson being acquitted of the criminal charges, despite being found liable for $33.5 million in damages from a coinciding civil trial. He is currently in jail after being found guilty of kidnapping and armed robbery, stemming a confrontation at a Las Vegas hotel in which he claims to have been attempting to retrieve sports memorabilia that was stolen from him.

Simpson is not the first NFL player to be involved in a murder case, with former players Rae Carruth and Aaron Hernandez currently incarcerated on murder-related charges. The high-profile nature of the trial and the fact that he walked free despite mounting evidence, however, makes it one of the most notorious scandals in sports history.

(Photo credit should read Vince Bucci/AFP/Getty Images)

1. College basketball point-shaving scandal of the 1940s and 1950s 

In 1950, City College of New York became the only team in the history of college basketball to win the NIT and the NCAA tournament in the same season.

The following year, seven players from that team were indicted in a widespread point-shaving scandal that involved 25 players from three other New York area schools, as well as Toledo and Bradley Universities and the reigning national champion Kentucky Wildcats.

While City College was at the center of the scandal, Kentucky was clearly the biggest name involved. They were led by legendary head coach Adolph Rupp, and had won three of the past four national championships. Two of their three players that were indicted, Ralph Beard and Alex Groza, were NBA stars and Olympic gold medalists. The Wildcats were suspended for the entire 1952-1953 season.

As a result of the scandal, the NCAA become so afraid of the potential influence of organized crime that the New York area did not host a tournament game until 1982, when the Nassau Coliseum hosted the first and second rounds of the NCAA tournament.

Kentucky is the only program to survive the scandal, as the rest would permanently fall from college basketball greatness.

(AP Photo/File)


Sports are often viewed as an extension of the rest of the world.

Sure, there are only a handful of individuals talented enough to compete at the highest level. Regardless, nearly all of the problems of the real world seem to intersect the world of sports in at least some way.

Some scandals are driven by financial greed. Sometimes there are links to gambling or organized crime. Potentially both. In other instances, it involves collegiate athletes who accept money, despite knowing the serious punishments facing them, their teammates and the university if they are caught doing so.

Others emerge from poor decisions in an athlete's personal life. Whether these missteps lead to a criminal trial, a hefty financial settlement or merely persecution in the eyes of the public, these events almost always tarnish the reputation of the individual involved.

SEE ALSO: Biggest choke jobs in sports history

And of course, when the stakes are high, there is always going to be someone looking for a competitive advantage. Sports is no exception, as individuals have resorted to performance-enhancing-drugs, espionage and occasionally violence in order to gain an edge over the competition.

While it is the tremendous athletic feats and team accomplishments that have shaped the passion of fans for countless years, the presence of controversy is always lurking in the shadows.

Here is a look at the 20 biggest scandals in the history of sports, and while this counts down they are in no particular order because we're trying to determine which awful scandal is more egregious than the other.

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