We have reached college basketball's Final Four, and whichever team wins two more games will be crowned the NCAA tournament champs. It will be an incredible accomplishment for the players and coaches, but if history has taught us one thing in college hoops, it's that not even wins last forever. Here is a look back at the top college basketball teams that have been forced to give back victories.
Michigan (112 vacated wins)
The clear-cut No. 1 seed in the world of shady college basketball dealings is U of M, where the banners celebrating the Fab Five years (and a few others) are sitting in storage thanks to a rogue booster. But only one-fifth of those former fab freshmen is to blame. Beginning in high school, Chris Webber took $280,000 in cash and gifts from Ed Martin, the same guy who paid off future Wolverines like Robert Traylor and Maurice Taylor for a total of 616K—money, it turns out, that the multi-tasker was also laundering for an illegal gambling operation. Webber eventually pled guilty to a reduced charge of criminal contempt to avoid jail time, but the Wolverines still had to vacate a whole bunch of wins.
Ohio State (82 vacated wins)
You know things are bad when your legendary coach (Jim O'Brien) is giving a $6,000 loan to the mother of a recruit and that isn't the worst of your problems (apparently, that didn't even violate NCAA rules.) No, things got real after O'Brien was fired in 2004 when proof came to light that boosters gave a player, Boban Savovic, improper housing and cash and helped him commit academic fraud. When all was said and done, OSU vacated all of their victories from 1999-2002.
Fresno State (49 vacated wins)
If a shark stops swimming it will die. No wonder Jerry Tarkanian headed off to Fresno St. before the constant scrutiny placed on his UNLV tenure could catch up with him (People notice when your players are photographed partying in a hot tub with a prominent gambler). Things weren't squeaky clean in Tarkanian's new home either—the program was busted for infractions that included a statistician writing papers for players, using correspondence courses to meet players' eligibility requirements and giving team members cash stipends.
St. John's (46 vacated wins)
Once upon a time, the Red Storm was an actual basketball powerhouse, with Mike Jarvis following in the sweater-wearing footsteps of Lou Carnesecca—and they have the sanctions to prove it. Apparently, the athletic department had been paying off center Abe Keita from 2000-2004, giving him $300/month in living expenses and covering tuition bills when he was ineligible for a scholarship as a freshman. Some of that money came from Jarvis, who was fired in 2004 before he could be punished. But at least Keita returned on investment: he averaged 2.4 points and 2.6 rebounds in his best season.
New Mexico State (40 vacated wins)
Irony alert! Former head coach Neil McCarthy was actually cleared of wrongdoing when an assistant coach was caught doing homework for six Aggies. But then the canned McCarthy sued for wrongful termination, and the messy trial revealed the fact that the coach once hired an assistant from Mississippi's Jones County Community College in exchange for getting their two star players to commit to NMSU. The team earned six years of probation and gave back two years' worth of wins, quietly putting them in the top five in NCAA history.
Memphis (38 vacated wins)
The program's proud, decades-long tradition of putting athletics over academics and morals dates back to head coach Dana Kirk, who graduated a whopping six players in his seven years and was forced to vacate four seasons' worth of wins. Still, some credit belongs to John Calipari, whose 38-win 2008 season also got erased when it was revealed that Derrick Rose cheated on his SATs. However, like Coach Cal's tenure at UMass a decade earlier (when Marcus Camby was caught taking money from agents), Calipari was off to his next coaching gig before he could suffer the consequences.
California (28 vacated wins)
Former head coach Todd Bozeman deserves all the credit for Cal's solid run from 1995-96. He was the one who gave the parents of Jelani Gardner $30,000 so they could travel to see their son play. Unfortunately, Bozeman was also the one who messed with Gardner's playing time, and when his minutes started dropping, mom and dad dropped a dime to the NCAA. In a bonus disgrace, Bozeman was also ordered to stay away from an undergrad to whom he was accused of making lewd phone calls.
Translation: Good luck with your new head coach, Morgan State!
USC (21 vacated wins)
Everyone remembers the story: In what was the world's easiest recruiting trip, high school phenom O.J. Mayo called up USC head coach Tim Floyd to say he wanted to be a Trojan. Trouble is, it wasn't true. Two years after Mayo's one-year college career, it came to light that Floyd had given a whopping $1,000 in cash to an L.A.-based promoter, who helped sway Mayo to USC. But don't shortchange Mayo's business savvy—he also received plenty of improper benefits while attending school.
St. Bonaventure (12 vacated wins)
Our feisty Mid-Major that could make a run deep into the disgrace tournament comes courtesy of the Bonnies, the program that enrolled Jamil Terrell, a star player from Coastal Georgia Community College, even though his only academic qualification was a welding certificate (In a shocking turn of events, the assistant who got the head coach to sign off also happened to be his son). At least they went out in style. Caught mid-season, the Bonnies just dropped the mic and didn't bother playing their final two games.
Next: The Biggest Surprises in NCAA Tourney History
Georgia (1 vacated win)
How many points is a 3-pointer worth? That was an actual question on the final (and only) exam given by assistant coach Jim Harrick, Jr. in his intellectually rigorous Coaching Principle and Strategies of Basketball class. Even worse, three Bulldog players didn't even have to take the class and instead were handed an automatic A. When the dust settled, the Bulldogs had to give up just one win, but Junior lost his job. However, dad suffered an even worse fate: he was last seen coaching the NBDL's Bakersfield Jam in 2007.