I must say, it was awfully difficult coming up with a list of the 10 most embarrassing moments in the history of college basketball. Not that it was hard to think of examples. The struggle was in scanning the long, sordid history of the sport and picking out only 10. What, pray tell, is a fellow supposed to leave out?
A lot, it turns out. Cincinnati coach Bob Huggins was caught by a police videotape stumbling dead drunk out of his car ... and didn't make this list. Larry Eustachy resigned in disgrace from Iowa State after photographs were published of him drinking with and smooching coeds the night of a road loss ... and didn't make this list. LSU's Dale Brown, in a fit of pique, once asked a reporter at a press conference if he had ever masturbated ... and didn't make this list. Jim Harrick got fired from UCLA for falsifying an expense report and then landed his two subsequent employers, Rhode Island and Georgia, on NCAA probation. He, too, somehow escaped my top 10.
In fact, you could do a top 10 embarrassing list each on Bob Knight and Jerry Tarkanian alone. In the interest of equal time, I selected only one example from the sport's two most noted villains. My apologies to the General and the Shark for the short shrift.
Perhaps the hardest part was in deciding which cash-related scandals were not worthy of enshrinement here. When SI.com asks me for a top 50 list next year, I'll include the Fab Five Fallout at Michigan, which vacated the Wolverines' two Final Four appearances. Speaking of which, Chris Webber's phantom timeout in the 1993 NCAA title game also got tossed in the waste bin. That moment was certainly embarrassing -- just not quite embarrassing enough.
Here, then, is my top 10. Or perhaps I should call it my bottom 10 -- listed, appropriately enough, from the bottom down.
10. UNLV players photographed with "The Fixer": May 26, 1991
Tarkanian's rebellious reign at UNLV will be most remembered for a single image: a photograph, first published in the spring of 1991, showing three of his players lounging in a hot tub with Richie (the Fixer) Perry. Perry was a Las Vegas resident who spent a year in prison after pleading guilty in the mid-1980s to conspiring to commit sports bribery as part of a gambling scandal at Boston College. In 1974, Perry also was convicted of federal charges related to fixing horse races.
Tarkanian, of course, was shocked -- shocked! -- to learn that his players were gallivanting with a known gambler and convicted sports fixer. The NCAA did not find that any major violations had come of the relationship, but it did later hit UNLV with major sanctions for the many other violations committed under Tarkanian. He was forced to resign in the spring of 1992.
9. McLain reveals his cocaine addiction: March 16, 1987
Villanova's win over Georgetown in the 1985 NCAA championship game was one of the greatest upsets in the history of sports. That achievement, alas, was forever tainted by the SI cover story published two years later that detailed the cocaine habit of the Wildcats' point guard, Gary McLain.
Among other revelations, McLain, whom SI paid $35,000 to have his story ghost-written for the magazine by Lexington Herald-Leader reporter Jeffrey Marx, said he was wired on coke during Villanova's Final Four victory over Memphis State as well as during its ceremonial visit to the White House.
Beyond the admission of his own use, McLain wrote that some of his teammates had done drugs with him. He also said that Villanova coach Rollie Massimino knew about his habit but didn't want to expose it for fear of damaging the program. Massimino denied those charges and didn't speak to McLain for many years, but he eventually forgave his player.