Tulane University Point Shaving Scandal
In 1984 players on the Tulane University basketball team conspired with gamblers to fix three basketball games through point shaving. Two players involved in the scandal, Jon Johnson and Clyde Eads, provided prosecutors with information which led to the arrest of three other players, four additional students at Tulane, and two others in March of 1985. The games which were fixed were against Memphis State, which Tulane lost by 11 points as a 6 point underdog, and against Southern Mississippi, which Tulane won by a single point though they were a 9 point favorite. Fixing the game against Virginia Tech was discussed but the idea was abandoned when oddsmakers did not post a line for the game.
As the scandal was investigated several recruiting violations by Tulane, including the giving of cash to recruit John Williams, one of the players arrested for point shaving, were revealed. By the time the scandal ended Tulane had discontinued the basketball program. Williams was tried for the point shaving scandal twice, the first trial ended in a mistrial and in the second trial he was acquitted. His teammates David Dominique and Bobby Thompson pled guilty to the charges, as did the other principals involved. Johnson and Eads were granted immunity despite being involved in the scheme.
The players were paid in cash and cocaine for their cooperation. At least $17,000 was split between the five players involved in the two games in which they shaved points, according to the indictment handed down on the three players who were eventually charged. Because there were no trials for the other defendants, much of how the scandal was implemented is sealed in court records.
What is known is that Roland Ruiz, a New Orleans based bookmaker, was indicted on multiple counts of bribing the players, reaching them through other students who knew Williams. At least one of the students involved in the scheme placed a large bet on the Memphis State game, but did so legally in Las Vegas rather than through a bookmaker. Many other students were seen in Las Vegas making bets, attracting the attention of casino security, who informed the FBI of strange betting. Ruiz eventually pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of illegal gambling and received a six month suspended sentence. Ruiz had originally been charged with bribing the students.
Tulane reinstated the basketball program in 1988. Williams went to the NBA playing with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Phoenix Suns, and Dallas Mavericks in his career. The Tulane scandal contained the elements of NCAA players using illegal drugs, recruiting violations in the form of cash payments to players, and the shaving of points in games, although in the end the punishment was mostly levied on the school, rather than the participants. As an aside, one of the district attorneys responsible for prosecuting the conspirators was Harry Connick, father of entertainer Harry Connick Jr.