⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ SMU Personal Statement

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SMU Personal Statement



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The Mustangs were given a one-year bowl ban as a result of recruiting violations; despite this, the team went on to win the SWC championship and finished ranked fifth in the Associated Press poll. Meyer resigned following the season to take the head coaching position with the New England Patriots of the NFL; his successor, Bobby Collins , picked up right where Meyer had left off and in , the Mustangs finished unbeaten and won the Cotton Bowl Classic on their way to a 2 finish in the final polls. The earliest probation came as the result of an investigation into the recruiting practices of several assistant coaches and team boosters. Sean Stopperich, an offensive lineman from Muse , Pennsylvania , who was part of the recruiting class and who had initially given an oral commitment to the University of Pittsburgh , told investigators that he and his family had received several thousand dollars from SMU boosters and assistant coaches to renege on that commitment and sign with the Mustangs.

Stopperich, who dealt with nagging injuries carrying over from his high school playing days into his time in Dallas, would leave SMU in and return home to Pittsburgh. Stopperich suffered injuries in a car accident [9] in that permanently put an end to his football career. The school was not allowed to grant any new football scholarships for the season, and only fifteen would be available for The Mustangs received a two-year postseason ban for those two seasons as well as a complete ban from live television for The Mustangs' on-field performance almost immediately suffered. Entering as the third-ranked team by the AP, SMU fell to 16 in the poll following a surprising blowout loss to unranked Arizona and then dropped out of the rankings the next week after losing to conference rival Baylor.

Then, in , the team regressed. A 5—1 start was followed by a three-game losing streak, and SMU again finished at despite breaking into the top 25 of the AP at midseason and getting as high as Their losses included a shutout against Arizona State , giving up 61 points against Notre Dame , and getting shut out in their season finale against Arkansas. Sparks' investigation eventually led him to David Stanley, a former Mustangs linebacker from Angleton, Texas.

Stanley, once a highly sought-after recruit from Angleton High School, was part of the same recruiting class as Stopperich and enrolled at SMU in the fall of At the time, Stanley was also dealing with a substance abuse problem that grew progressively worse over the next two years as he battled injuries and frustration over his inability to crack the starting lineup. Stanley continued to attend SMU for some time afterward but, as he was getting close to obtaining his degree, his substance abuse led the school to rescind the remainder of his scholarship.

He tried to appeal the decision but SMU stood firm. His mother, Dawn, and his father, Harley, were also allegedly given money. If these claims were proven true, this would have meant that SMU was still paying players after assuring the NCAA that payments had stopped. More ominously, a new set of rules had been put in place that would have jeopardized the future of the program. Shortly after the most recent round of sanctions were handed to SMU in , the NCAA called an emergency meeting in New Orleans to deal with a rash of violations that had been uncovered in the late s and early s. Among the decisions made at that meeting was to reinforce the NCAA's power to shut down athletic programs found guilty of egregious violations—a power popularly known as the " death penalty ".

The new bylaw, called the "Repeat Violator Rule," stated that if a school had been found guilty of two major violations within five years, it could be barred from competing in the sport involved in the second violation for up to two years. However, in cases where the death penalty was warranted for a so-called "repeat violator", the NCAA now had to either hand down the penalty or explain why it chose not to do so. The rule passed with six schools voting against it. In Texas had been cited for recruiting violations and would be so again several months after the Stanley story broke. Houston, meanwhile, found itself accused of paying players as well; this would lead to the forced retirement of their longtime coach Bill Yeoman at the end of the season and later to stiff penalties.

Any investigation of SMU carried considerable risk, as the school's alumni had long dominated Dallas' business and social scene. For example, the Dallas Times Herald suffered serious losses in advertising revenue when it broke the Stopperich story. At that time, the Times Herald was already struggling to maintain competition with its rival paper, The Dallas Morning News , and the backlash cost it even more advertising revenue. Though the paper was eventually vindicated when SMU was placed on probation, the lost revenue never returned, and eventually led to the paper's folding after A. Had SMU's alumni chosen to retaliate in the same manner as they had with the Times Herald , Belo risked losing twice as much advertising revenue, if not more, due to the dual ownership of the newspaper and television station.

Sparks and Hansen were well aware of this. However, they pressed on, as they had concrete evidence of further wrongdoing. David and Dawn Stanley both were asked to submit to polygraph tests , which they passed. There, Hansen confronted the three men with the accusations laid out by the Stanleys. Hitch, Collins, and Parker denied everything, as Hansen had expected. What they did not know was that Hansen was in possession of a pair of envelopes that had been allegedly sent to Stanley and his family with money inside.

Harley Stanley", not only had come directly from the recruiting office, but the initials HLP were printed in black ink on the upper left corner in the same handwriting that the Stanleys' home address was written in. Furthermore, the envelope carried a postmark dated October 4, — after SMU had been placed on their most recent probation. This incident, therefore, would make them subject to the Repeat Violator Rule if it was indeed proven that they had paid Stanley.

During his initial questioning, Hansen asked Parker if he had ever sent any mail to the Stanley family. After he responded negatively, Hansen produced the envelopes and handed them both to Parker. After pointing specifically to the second one, which bore the initials HLP in the upper left corner, Hansen asked if the envelopes had been sent by him or through the office and Parker responded by saying yes. A moment later, Parker decided to take a second look and put on a pair of reading glasses. This time, he retracted his claim by pointing out the letters were printed by hand onto the envelope and then showed Collins and Hitch, who went along with him; when pressed a second time, Parker said the envelope had not come from him directly saying " Hansen later said this was the moment where he "had" him.

Since all Hansen had to go on was the word of Stanley and his mother, he could not have known for sure if there really had been money in the envelope. In fact, Hansen never actually mentioned money when he produced the envelopes, only asking whether or not there was any correspondence between the AD's office and the Stanley family. By refusing to acknowledge that he had, in fact, sent something to Stanley's family and then backtracking when confronted with evidence that contradicted his statement, Hansen knew Parker was hiding something.

As Hansen said years after the incident, "That was the defining moment. All [Parker] had to say was, 'I'm glad you asked, I sent him an insurance form,' and we would've had to start all over, because every dot that we connected started from the premise that we know he sent something. After this and the results of the polygraph tests, Hansen came up with one final damning piece of evidence. As part of the investigation, he had Parker submit a sample of his handwriting for analysis. The expert Hansen consulted with confirmed the sample and the writing on the envelope came from the same person and would testify under oath to its authenticity.

Two days later, the Morning News revealed that starting tight end Albert Reese was living rent-free in a Dallas apartment. The rent was being paid by George Owen, one of the boosters who had been banned from the athletic program for his role in the events leading up to the probation. Reese was suspended for the last two games of the season pending an investigation. On November 19, , professors submitted a petition calling for the end of "quasi-professional athletics" at SMU, including a ban on athletic scholarships. SMU Board of Governors Chairman Bill Clements , who just two weeks earlier had defeated Mark White to regain his seat as Texas' governor , announced that the school would tighten its admissions standards for all athletes.

He also said that school officials would drop football entirely if necessary to restore the school's integrity. The slush fund was due to be discontinued when the thirteen players had all left SMU. These payments were made with the full knowledge and approval of athletic department staff. According to the Morning News , Hitch knew about the existence of a slush fund as early as and was involved in the decision to continue the payments even after SMU was placed on probation in The Morning News also said Collins knew certain players were being paid, but did not know who they were. Two months after being sworn in as governor, Clements admitted that he had learned about the slush fund in An investigation by the SMU Board of Governors revealed players had been paid to play since the mids.

A investigation by the College of Bishops of the United Methodist Church revealed that Clements had met with Hitch in , and the two agreed that despite the probation, the payments had to continue because the football program had "a payroll to meet. Soon afterward, SMU president L. Donald Shields resigned; Hitch and Collins followed suit a few days later. The nature of the violations led to speculation about the possibility of SMU receiving the death penalty.

The revelations came at a time of great concern over the integrity of college sports. On February 6, , SMU's faculty athletics representative, religious studies professor Lonnie Kliever , delivered a report to the NCAA which recommended an extension of the school's probation an additional four years, until During this period, SMU would be allowed to hire only six assistant coaches, and only four of them would be allowed to participate in off-campus recruiting. It also recommended that SMU's ban from bowl games and live television be extended until During those two seasons, SMU proposed dropping two non-conference games from its schedule. SMU's cooperation so impressed the enforcement staff, led by assistant executive director of enforcement and compliance David Berst, that it recommended that the Infractions Committee accept SMU's proposed penalties, with the exception of a ban on non-conference play for two years.

It soon became apparent, however, that the infractions committee was not willing to let SMU off lightly, even though both the enforcement staff and SMU had agreed on the above proposed sanctions. Besides of the members' stern questioning after Berst and Kliever delivered their presentations, the committee stayed in session longer than usual. The committee praised SMU for cooperating with the investigation, saying that Kliever's efforts "went far beyond what could fairly be expected of a single faculty athletics representative. The committee also found that SMU had gained a "great competitive advantage" over its opponents as a result of its cheating, and the death penalty was one way of rectifying this advantage.

Berst said years later that in the committee's view, the Mustang football program was so riddled with corruption that it felt "there simply didn't seem to be any options left. However, they said their investigation of SMU revealed a program completely out of control. As a result of the death penalty, a full release was granted to every player on the team, allowing them to transfer to another school without losing any eligibility; most immediately announced they were considering going elsewhere. As soon as the NCAA announced its decision, hundreds of recruiters from 80 universities—including such powerhouses as Oklahoma, Penn State then the reigning national champions , and Alabama —traveled to SMU in hopes of persuading players to transfer to their schools.

Combined with the year-plus ban on off-campus recruiting, this led to speculation that SMU's football team would stay shuttered in as well. Indeed, as early as February 27—two days after the sanctions were announced—school officials expressed doubt that SMU would have enough players to field a viable team in On April 11, , SMU formally canceled the season. Acting president William Stallcup said that under the circumstances, SMU could not possibly field a competitive team in The only way SMU could have returned that year, Stallcup said, was with " walk-ons and only a handful of scholarship athletes and continuing players.

Also, according to SWC Commissioner Fred Jacoby, there would not have been nearly enough time to find a coach, and the school still did not have a permanent replacement for Hitch. Bill Clements apologized for his role in continuing the payments in March He said that the board had "reluctantly and uncomfortably" decided to continue the payments, feeling it had to honor previous commitments. However, he said, in hindsight "we should have stopped the payments immediately" rather than merely phase the fund out. Bobby Collins was not sanctioned by the NCAA for any role in the events leading up to the "death penalty", though the final report criticized him for not providing a convincing explanation for why players were still being paid after the school assured the NCAA that the payments had stopped.

While he was a finalist for an opening at Mississippi State in which eventually went to Jackie Sherrill , [6] he has not returned to the collegiate ranks in any capacity since leaving SMU. Sean Stopperich and David Stanley, the players at the center of the scandal, never recovered from their drug addictions. In , Stopperich was found dead in his Pittsburgh apartment from a cocaine overdose at the age of Gregg had also been the head coach for three NFL teams prior to his arrival as coach at SMU, the Cleveland Browns from to , the Cincinnati Bengals whom he led to the Super Bowl in his second season , from to , and the Packers from to The new squad was particularly short on offensive linemen; Gregg had to make several prospective wide receivers bulk up and move to the line.

By nearly all accounts, it would have been unthinkable for SMU to have allowed such a roster to play a competitive schedule in Games were moved to Ownby Stadium , a 23,seat on-campus facility built in It had to be heavily renovated to meet Division I-A standards; SMU had not played there regularly since and had not played any games on campus at all since The Mustangs played there until , when they moved back to the Cotton Bowl , the scene of SMU's first glory era in the s and s.

Since , the Mustangs have played at Gerald J. Ford Stadium , which occupies Ownby Stadium's former physical footprint. The scandal devastated what had consistently been a top ranked team that had recently contended for the national championship. SMU's players were younger, smaller, and less experienced than their opponents; one team captain later stated that he questioned whether some of his teammates had played high school football. The new team was, as the Associated Press later reported, "scared, almost terrified" to leave the locker room to play number one-ranked Notre Dame on November 11, They lost that game 59—6, although Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz reportedly went easy on them.

As bad as that loss was, it was better than the Mustangs' 95—21 thumping at the hands of Houston several weeks earlier—the second-worst loss in school history. Eventual Heisman Trophy winner Andre Ware threw six touchdown passes against SMU in the first half, and David Klingler added four more in the second half even with the game long out of reach. Gregg was so disgusted that he refused to shake Houston coach Jack Pardee 's hand after the game.

Thirteen players needed knee surgery after the season, compared to the normal three or four. They thought that they could play with anyone. They were quality people. It was one of the most pleasurable experiences in my football life. Next to the cancellation of two seasons, the most severe sanction in the long term was the loss of 55 scholarships over four years.

As a result, the Mustangs did not have a full complement of scholarships until , and it was another year before they fielded a team entirely made up of players unaffected by the scandal. Additionally, in the wake of the scandal, SMU officials opted to significantly increase the admissions standards for prospective athletes, effectively removing them from contention for the kinds of players they attracted in the s. The SWC suffered greatly as a result of the scandal.

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