1951 College Basketball Recap
Fix. Dump. Point shaving. Call it what you like, but spell it S-C-A-N-D-A-L. The biggest in sports since the Black Sox threw the 1919 World Series.
Less than a year after CCNY won both the NIT and NCAA tournaments, seven members of the team and 11 from other colleges were arrested for taking money from gamblers to fix games. Investigations by the New York District Attorney's office would eventually show that between 1947–51, 86 games had been fixed in 23 cities in 17 states by 32 players from seven colleges. CCNY had company: LIU, NYU, Manhattan, Toledo, Bradley, even Kentucky. In addition, the New York City Board of Higher Education, which was also looking into the CCNY program, reported that the high school records of 14 players had been tampered with to make them eligible for admission.
Kentucky's involvement in the point-shaving mess was still to be uncovered when No.1–ranked Wildcats arrived in Minneapolis in search of their third NCAA championship in four years. There they met No.4 Kansas State, the champion of the Big Seven. Led by 7–foot junior All-America Bil Spivey and sophomore Cliff Hagan, the Cats won, 68–58, and coach Rupp had his third title.
The celebration didn't last long. Shortly after winning the title, the point-shaving scandal breaking in New York overtook Kentucky.
“The gamblers couldn't touch my boys with a 10–foot pole,” Rupp had said. But five of his players, including Alex Groza, Ralph Beard and Spivey were implicated. Groza and Beard, stars of the 1948 U.S. Olympic basketball team and now professionals, were thrown out of the NBA. Spivey fought the charges, but never played another game in college or the pros.
Finally, BYU, a second round loser to Kansas State in the NCAAs, rebounded in the NIT. Paced by Roland (the Cat) Minson's 28 points, the Cougars beat Dayton by 19 for the title.
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