CCNY point-shaving scandal

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The CCNY point-shaving scandal of 1950–51 was a college basketball point-shaving gambling scandal that involved seven American schools in all, with four in the New York metropolitan area, two in the Midwest, and one in the South. However, most of the key players in the scandal were players of the 1949–50 CCNY Beavers men's basketball team.

Background[edit]

The cheating began with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and National Invitation Tournament (NIT) champion City College of New York (CCNY). CCNY had won the 1950 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament and the 1950 National Invitation Tournament over Bradley University. The scandal involved CCNY and at least six other schools, including three others in the New York City area: New York University, Long Island University (LIU) and Manhattan College, spreading to Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois; the University of Kentucky and the University of Toledo, involving 33 players in all, as well as organized crime. CCNY was eventually banned from playing at Madison Square Garden although the assistant coach, Nat Holman, and head coach, Albert Litschqi, were cleared of any wrongdoing.[1][2][3]

Discovery of the scandal[edit]

Junius Kellogg, a standout 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m) Manhattan College center, was offered a $1,000 (equivalent to $12,800 in 2024) bribe to shave points before a game against DePaul. Although he was working for minimum wage (then 75¢ per hour) at a frozen custard shop near campus, Kellogg refused to take the money and reported the solicitation to his coach, Ken Norton. Norton sent him to New York City District Attorney Frank Hogan. To obtain evidence about the corruption, Kellogg wore a wire when he was again approached in a nearby bar.[4]

The scandal first became public when Hogan arrested seven men on charges of conspiring to fix games on February 18, 1951. Among those taken into custody were All-America forward Ed Warner, center Ed Roman, and guard Al Roth, the three stars of CCNY's five that won both the NIT and NCAA tournaments, still the only such double championship in history (and destined to remain such, since teams are no longer allowed to enter both tournaments in the same year). The police had set up an undercover operation.[5] The arrests were made in Penn Station when the players returned from Philadelphia, after CCNY had defeated Temple University, 95–71.

In all, 32 players from seven colleges admitted to taking bribes between 1947 and 1950 to fix 86 games in 17 states.[4] Jack Molinas was not caught in 1951, but after he was suspended for gambling by the National Basketball Association (NBA) he was linked back to the 1951 scandal by bets placed on his then-college team, Columbia University.[6]

Aftermath[edit]

The scandal had long-lasting effects for some of the individuals involved, as well as college basketball itself. Long after the scandal was over, coaches would warn their players what could happen to their lives if they chose to make some "fast money".[7]

While Kentucky was forced to cancel one season of play (1952–53), it was the only program that was not permanently hobbled by the scandal. To date, Bradley is the only other affected school to have appeared in a final major media poll. However, none of the programs would suffer more than CCNY and LIU. Following the discovery of several other irregularities, CCNY deemphasized its athletic program and dropped down to what is now Division III. LIU shut down its entire athletic program from 1951 to 1957, and did not return to Division I until the 1980s.

Documentaries[edit]

In 1998, George Roy and Steven Hilliard Stern, Black Canyon Productions, and HBO Sports made a documentary film about the CCNY Point Shaving Scandal, City Dump: The Story of the 1951 CCNY Basketball Scandal, that appeared on HBO.[8][9]

The story is also detailed in The First Basket, a 2008 documentary covering the history of Jewish players in basketball.

Pop culture references[edit]

The scandal is referenced in the HBO series The Sopranos during the episode "Rat Pack", which was the second episode of the fifth season, first broadcast on March 14, 2004. After learning of the death of New York mob boss Carmine Lupertazzi, Corrado "Junior" Soprano confirms that Lupertazzi invented point shaving for "CCNY versus Kentucky, 1951. Nobody beat the spread. I bought a black Fleetwood."

Jay Neugeboren's 1966 novel Big Man is based on what happens to an All-American African American basketball star five years after he was caught in this scandal.

A 1951 movie, The Basketball Fix, was based on the scandal.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Nat Holman: The Man, His Legacy and CCNY. "The 1951 Basketball Scandal" Archived 2007-12-05 at the Wayback Machine - The City College Library - City College of New York
  2. ^ Goldstein, Joe, "Explosion: 1951 scandals threaten college hoops" - ESPN - November 19, 2003
  3. ^ Conrad, Mark. "Sportslaw History: The City College Scandal" Archived 2007-09-28 at the Wayback Machine - Mark's Sportslaw News
  4. ^ a b Junius Kellogg is dead at 71 Refused bribe in '50s scandal, The New York Times, Frank Litsky, September 18, 1998. Retrieved 2 February 2017.
  5. ^ "The Big Money" - Time - February 26, 1951
  6. ^ Goldstein, Joe. "Explosion II: The Molinas period" - ESPN - November 19, 2003
  7. ^ Callahan, Tom. "When Scandals Do Not Scandalize" - Time - November 30, 1981
  8. ^ Roy, George, and Steven Hilliard Stern. City Dump: The Story of the 1951 CCNY Basketball Scandal. - Time Warner - Black Canyon Productions, and HBO Sports. March 24, 1998.
  9. ^ City Dump: The Story of the 1951 CCNY Basketball Scandal. - IMDb

Further reading[edit]

  • Cohen, Stanley (2000). The Game They Played: The True Story of the Point-Shaving Scandal That Destroyed One of College Basketball's Greatest Teams. Da Capo Press. ISBN 978-0786708215.
  • Rosen, Charles (1978). Scandals of '51: How the Gamblers Almost Killed College Basketball. Holt, Rinehart and Winston. ISBN 003040701X.
  • Shapiro, Edward (2007). "The Shame of the City: CCNY Basketball, 1950–51". In Kugelmass, Jack (ed.). Jews, Sports, and the Rites of Citizenship. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. pp. 175–192. ISBN 978-0-252-07324-3.
  • Wilner, Barry; Rappoport, Ken (2014). Crazyball: Sports Scandals, Superstitions, and Sick Plays. Taylor Trade Publishing. pp. 53–60. ISBN 978-1589799127.

External links[edit]