Southern Methodist University football scandal
The Southern Methodist University football scandal was an incident in which the football
College football
College football refers to American football played by teams of student athletes fielded by American universities, colleges, and military academies, or Canadian football played by teams of student athletes fielded by Canadian universities...

 program at Southern Methodist University
Southern Methodist University
Southern Methodist University is a private university in Dallas, Texas, United States. Founded in 1911 by the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, SMU operates campuses in Dallas, Plano, and Taos, New Mexico. SMU is owned by the South Central Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church...

 was investigated and punished for massive violations of NCAA rules and regulations. The most serious violation was the maintenance of a slush fund
Slush fund
A slush fund, colloquially, is an auxiliary monetary account or a reserve fund. However, in the context of corrupt dealings, such as those by governments or large corporations, a slush fund can have particular connotations of illegality, illegitimacy, or secrecy in regard to the use of this money...

 used for "under the table" payments to players from the mid-1970s through 1986
1986 NCAA Division I-A football season
The 1986 NCAA Division I-A football season ended with Penn State winning the national championship. Coached by Joe Paterno, they defeated Miami 14–10 in the Fiesta Bowl. This Fiesta Bowl was the first in the game's history to decide the national championship, launching it into the top tier of...

. This culminated in the NCAA handing down the so-called "death penalty" by canceling SMU's entire 1987
1987 NCAA Division I-A football season
The 1987 NCAA Division I-A football season ended with Miami winning its second national championship during the 80s in an Orange Bowl match-up featuring a rare #1 vs...

 schedule. Till this day Southern Methodist University has had the most allegations and violations in NCAA History. SMU was only allowed to return to the abbreviated 1988 season
1988 NCAA Division I-A football season
The 1988 NCAA Division I-A football season ended with Notre Dame winning the national championship. The Fighting Irish won the title via a 34-21 defeat of previously unbeaten West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl in Tempe, Arizona....

, but opted to sit that season out as well after school officials determined it would be impossible to field a viable team.

The harshness of the penalty nearly destroyed SMU football. The Mustangs only had one winning season over the next 20 years and failed to make another bowl until 2009. It was also one of several factors that led to the collapse of the Southwest Conference. To this day, it is the most severe penalty ever handed down to a major (Division I) athletic program. To date, it is also the only time the NCAA has canceled a football-playing school's entire season at any level.


The SMU Mustangs
SMU Mustangs
The SMU Mustangs is the name of the athletic teams representing Southern Methodist University. The Mustangs participate in the NCAA's Division I as a member of Conference USA. In 2005, SMU accepted an invitation to the Western Division of Conference USA, and left the Western Athletic Conference...

 had won the 1935
1935 college football season
The 1935 college football season was the last one before the Associated Press writers' poll was used in selecting the national champion. The Dickinson System, consisting of the calculations of University of Illinois Professor Frank Dickinson, crowned Southern Methodist University as the best in...

 national championship (as determined by the Dickinson System
Dickinson System
The Dickinson System was a mathematical point formula that awarded national championships in college football. Devised by University of Illinois economics professor Frank G...

), 10 Southwest Conference titles, and had attended 11 bowl game
Bowl game
In North America, a bowl game is commonly considered to refer to one of a number of post-season college football games. Prior to 2002, bowl game statistics were not included in players' career totals and the games were mostly considered to be exhibition games involving a payout to participating...

s. They also had one Heisman Trophy
Heisman Trophy
The Heisman Memorial Trophy Award , is awarded annually to the player deemed the most outstanding player in collegiate football. It was created in 1935 as the Downtown Athletic Club trophy and renamed in 1936 following the death of the Club's athletic director, John Heisman The Heisman Memorial...

 winner (Doak Walker
Doak Walker
Ewell Doak Walker, Jr. was an American football player who is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was a teammate of Bobby Layne in high school and the NFL.-Early life:...

 in 1949
1949 college football season
The 1949 college football season finished with four teams that were unbeaten and untied-- Notre Dame, Oklahoma, #3 California and Army had won all their games at season’s end. Notre Dame, however, was the overwhelming choice for national champion, with 172 of 208 first place votes...

) and numerous All-Americans. From 1980
1980 NCAA Division I-A football season
The 1980 NCAA Division I-A football season saw Georgia take its first national title since World War II.The Georgia Bulldogs starred freshman running back Herschel Walker, who made his NCAA debut against Tennessee. Down 15-2 at halftime, Georgia sent in Walker, the third string running back at the...

 to 1985
1985 NCAA Division I-A football season
The 1985 NCAA Division I-A football season saw the Oklahoma Sooners, led by head coach Barry Switzer, win the national championship.Oklahoma finished the season 11-1, with their only loss to Miami at home, in a game future NFL star Troy Aikman was lost for the season...

, SMU enjoyed its most successful era since the late 1940s and early 1950s. They posted a record of 55-14-1 and won three Southwest Conference titles. They nearly won their second national title in 1982
1982 NCAA Division I-A football season
The 1982 NCAA Division I-A football season saw Paul "Bear" Bryant retire as head coach at Alabama with 323 career victories in 38 seasons.The Penn State Nittany Lions won their first consensus national championship, closing out an 11-1 season by defeating Georgia and Heisman Trophy winner Herschel...

. However, the team lost its shot at a title when it settled for a tie against Arkansas
Arkansas Razorbacks
The Razorbacks, also known as the Hogs, are the names of college sports teams at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The term Arkansas Razorbacks properly applies to any of the sports teams at the university. The Razorbacks take their name from the feral pig of the same name...

 in the last game of the season to guarantee a spot in the Cotton Bowl, rather than risk a two-point conversion that could have won the game. For most of the first half of the 1980s, the Mustangs played at Texas Stadium
Texas Stadium
Texas Stadium was a football stadium in Irving, Texas, a suburb of Dallas. The stadium opened on September 17, 1971.Built to replace the aging Cotton Bowl, it was the home field of the NFL's Dallas Cowboys, and had a seating capacity of 65,675...

, then the home of the NFL Dallas Cowboys
Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys are a professional American football franchise which plays in the Eastern Division of the National Football Conference of the National Football League . They are headquartered in Valley Ranch in Irving, Texas, a suburb of Dallas...

. The Mustangs never sold out a game in Texas Stadium. The stadium had a capacity of roughly 64,000. Typically, an SMU game would draw a crowd of about 30,000 to 40,000.

This success came at a price, however. SMU was the second-smallest school in the Southwest Conference (only Rice
Rice Owls
The Rice University athletic teams are known as the Rice Owls. The name comes from the owls in Rice's crest.Rice participates in NCAA Division I athletics and is part of Conference USA. Rice was a member of the Southwest Conference until its breakup in 1996. Rice then joined the Western Athletic...

 was smaller) and one of the smallest in Division I-A, with a total enrollment of just over 9,000 students in 1986. From the 1950s onward, SMU found it difficult to compete against schools that were double (or more) its size. Prior to the 1980s, SMU had tallied only nine winning seasons since 1949
1949 college football season
The 1949 college football season finished with four teams that were unbeaten and untied-- Notre Dame, Oklahoma, #3 California and Army had won all their games at season’s end. Notre Dame, however, was the overwhelming choice for national champion, with 172 of 208 first place votes...

. The effort to keep up with the bigger Southwest Conference schools resulted in SMU straying very close to the ethical line, and in many cases going over it.

SMU's football program was under nearly constant scrutiny from the NCAA from 1974 onward. The ESPN
Entertainment and Sports Programming Network, commonly known as ESPN, is an American global cable television network focusing on sports-related programming including live and pre-taped event telecasts, sports talk shows, and other original programming....

 documentary 30 for 30
30 for 30
30 for 30 is the umbrella title for a series of documentaries airing on ESPN and its sister networks. The series, which premiered in October 2009 and concluded in December 2010, chronicles 30 stories from the "ESPN era," each of which detail the issues, trends, people, teams, or events that...

demonstrates and shows how everything took place in SMU's administrative presence. SMU was slapped with probation five times between 1974 and 1985. Overall, SMU had been sanctioned seven times in its history, more than any Division I-A program. In 1985, it had been placed on three years' probation for recruiting violations involving an assistant coach and several boosters
Booster club
A booster club is an organization that is formed to support an associated club, sports team, or organization. Booster clubs are popular in American schools at the high school and university level...

. Corruption
Corruption usually refers to spiritual or moral impurity.Corruption may also refer to:* Corruption , an American crime film* Corruption , a British horror film...

 in the athletic department was also a big problem in the 1980s. This latest penalty came about when former Mustang lineman Sean Stopperich told the NCAA that he and his family had received large amounts of money in order to get him to renege on an oral commitment to his hometown school, the University of Pittsburgh
University of Pittsburgh
The University of Pittsburgh, commonly referred to as Pitt, is a state-related research university located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States. Founded as Pittsburgh Academy in 1787 on what was then the American frontier, Pitt is one of the oldest continuously chartered institutions of...

. As part of the penalty, the Mustangs were banned from bowl games in 1985 and 1986, and banned from live television in 1986.

Violations revealed

In June 1986, John Sparks, a producer at the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex's ABC
American Broadcasting Company
The American Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network. Created in 1943 from the former NBC Blue radio network, ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Company and is part of Disney-ABC Television Group. Its first broadcast on television was in 1948...

 affiliate, WFAA-TV
WFAA, channel 8, is an ABC-affiliated television station serving the Dallas–Fort Worth Metroplex, one of the top ten media markets in North America. The station is the flagship of Belo Corporation and the largest ABC affiliate not owned and operated by the network...

, received a tip about even more wrongdoing at SMU. Sparks' digging eventually led him to David Stanley, who had played linebacker
A linebacker is a position in American football that was invented by football coach Fielding H. Yost of the University of Michigan. Linebackers are members of the defensive team, and line up approximately three to five yards behind the line of scrimmage, behind the defensive linemen...

 for SMU during the 1983 and 1984 seasons and who had been kicked off the team and lost his scholarship because of a substance abuse problem. Stanley claimed that SMU athletic officials paid him $25,000 to sign with SMU in 1983 and continued to pay him monthly while he played for the Mustangs. More seriously, the payments had continued after SMU had been slapped with its latest probation. Stanley's allegations were critical, as the NCAA had adopted new rules to deal with repeat offenders. Most notably, 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. While the NCAA had always had the power to shut down a program—a power widely known as "the death penalty"—it now had specific instances where it either had to do so or explain why it did not.

WFAA was taking a calculated risk in investigating SMU, as the school's alumni had long dominated Dallas' business and social scene. For example, the Dallas Times Herald
Dallas Times Herald
The Dallas Times Herald, founded in 1888 by a merger of the Dallas Times and the Dallas Herald, was once one of two major daily newspapers serving the Dallas, Texas area. It won three Pulitzer Prizes, all for photography, and two George Polk Awards, for local and regional reporting...

suffered serious losses in advertising revenue when it broke a 1983 story about serious recruiting violations. Although the paper was vindicated when the story led to SMU being placed on probation, the lost revenue never returned and was a factor in its closure in 1991. Nonetheless, Sparks and the station's sports director, Dale Hansen
Dale Hansen
Dale Hansen is an American sportscaster, currently the weeknight sports anchor during the 6 pm and 10 pm newscasts on ABC's Dallas affiliate WFAA-TV. He also hosts Dale Hansen's Sports Special on Sundays at 10:20 pm, consistently one of the highest-rated local programs in...

, pressed on.

On October 27, Hansen confronted athletic director Bob Hitch, head coach Bobby Collins
Bobby Collins (American football)

 and recruiting coordinator Henry Lee Parker with Stanley's allegations. He produced several letters containing payments to Stanley's family that had been postmarked in October 1985. A handwriting expert confirmed that the envelopes had been initialed by Parker. Even in the face of this evidence, Hitch, Collins, and Parker denied everything. For example, when Parker was shown an envelope that had allegedly contained a $350 payment, he initially said it was his but immediately backtracked and said, "No, this is printed ... I don't write that way."

On November 12, Hansen aired a 40-minute special report which was the first extensive report of Stanley's allegations. The report also revealed that Stanley had also talked to the NCAA and that an NCAA investigation was well underway.

Two days later, the Dallas Morning News (then a corporate cousin to WFAA; both at the time were owned by the A.H. Belo Corporation) revealed that starting tight end
Tight end
The tight end is a position in American football on the offense. The tight end is often seen as a hybrid position with the characteristics and roles of both an offensive lineman and a wide receiver. Like offensive linemen, they are usually lined up on the offensive line and are large enough to be...

 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 1985 probation. Reese was suspended for the last two games of the season pending an investigation.

Slush fund

On November 19, 1986, 200 professors submitted a petition calling for the end of "quasi-professional athletics" at SMU—including a ban on athletic scholarships. In addition, SMU Board of Governors chairman Bill Clements
Bill Clements
William Perry "Bill" Clements, Jr. was the 42nd and 44th Governor of Texas, serving from 1979 to 1983 and 1987 to 1991. Clements was the first Republican to have served as governor of the U.S. state of Texas since Reconstruction...

, who was due to leave his post in two months to take office as Governor of Texas
Governor of Texas
The governor of Texas is the head of the executive branch of Texas's government and the commander-in-chief of the state's military forces. The governor has the power to either approve or veto bills passed by the Texas Legislature, and to convene the legislature...

, 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.

Eventually, the NCAA investigation revealed that from 1985 to 1986, 13 players had been paid a total of $61,000 from a slush fund provided by a booster. Payments ranged from $50 to $725 per month and had started only a month after SMU had been slapped with its latest probation. The Times Herald later identified the booster as Dallas real-estate developer Sherwood Blount, Jr., who played for the Mustangs from 1969 to 1971 (though according to Parker, other boosters were almost certainly involved). The players had received a total of $47,000 during the 1985-86 school year. Eight of those players were paid an additional $14,000 from September to December 1986. The slush fund was due to be discontinued when the 13 players had all left the school. 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 1981 and was involved in the decision to continue the payments even after SMU was placed on probation in 1985. 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'd learned about the slush fund in 1984. An investigation by the board of governors revealed players had been paid to play since the mid-1970s. According to Clements, the board secretly agreed to phase out the fund at the end of the 1986 season, since the members felt duty-bound to honor previous commitments to players who had already been promised payments. A 1987 investigation by the College of Bishops of the United Methodist Church
United Methodist Church
The United Methodist Church is a Methodist Christian denomination which is both mainline Protestant and evangelical. Founded in 1968 by the union of The Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church, the UMC traces its roots back to the revival movement of John and Charles Wesley...

 revealed that Clements had met with Hitch in 1985, and the two agreed that despite the probation, the payments had to continue because the football program had "a payroll to meet."

At least two NFL players were identified as receiving payments—New England Patriots
New England Patriots
The New England Patriots, commonly called the "Pats", are a professional football team based in the Greater Boston area, playing their home games in the town of Foxborough, Massachusetts at Gillette Stadium. The team is part of the East Division of the American Football Conference in the National...

 running back
Running back
A running back is a gridiron football position, who is typically lined up in the offensive backfield. The primary roles of a running back are to receive handoffs from the quarterback for a rushing play, to catch passes from out of the backfield, and to block.There are usually one or two running...

 Reggie Dupard
Reggie Dupard
Jon Reginald Dupard is a former American football running back. He played five seasons in the National Football League. Dupard was selected 26th overall in the 1986 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. He played for the Patriots until he was traded to the Washington Redskins midway through the...

 and Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a professional American football franchise based in Tampa, Florida, U.S. They are currently members of the Southern Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League – they are the only team in the division not to come from the old NFC West...

A cornerback is a member of the defensive backfield or secondary in American and Canadian football. Cornerbacks cover receivers, to defend against pass offenses and make tackles. Other members of the defensive backfield include the safeties and occasionally linebackers. The cornerback position...

 Rod Jones. A third player, wide receiver
Wide receiver
A wide receiver is an offensive position in American and Canadian football, and is the key player in most of the passing plays. Only players in the backfield or the ends on the line are eligible to catch a forward pass. The two players who begin play at the ends of the offensive line are eligible...

 Ron Morris
Ron Morris (American football)
Ronald Wayne "Ron" Morris is a former professional American football wide receiver in the National Football League. He played six seasons for the Chicago Bears...

, was drafted by the Chicago Bears
Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears are a professional American football team based in Chicago, Illinois. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League...

. By the end of the 1986 season, according to the Times Herald, only three of the 13 players still had eligibility remaining.

Not long afterward, school president L. Donald Shields
L. Donald Shields
L. Donald Shields was the President of California State University, Fullerton from 1971 to 1980, and of Southern Methodist University from 1980 to 1986.-Biography:...

 resigned. Hitch and Collins followed suit a few days later. According to the United Methodist Church investigation, Hitch, Collins and Parker were each paid $850,000 to maintain their silence on the matter.

Death penalty

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, and college presidents were showing an increasing willingness to rein in their athletic programs.

On February 6, 1987, 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 1990. During this period, the school 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 the school's ban from bowl games and live TV be extended until 1989. During those two seasons, SMU proposed dropping two non-conference games from its schedule. SMU's cooperation so impressed the enforcement staff 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.

The committee, however, decided to take a different track. On February 25, the committee voted unanimously to cancel SMU's entire 1987 football season and all four of SMU's scheduled home games in 1988. 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." It also praised SMU's stated intent to operate within the rules when it returned to the field. This cooperation saved SMU from the full "death penalty"; had this happened, SMU would have had its football program shut down until 1989 and would have also lost its right to vote at NCAA conventions until 1990. However, it said that it felt compelled to impose the "death penalty" in order to "eliminate a program that was built on a legacy of wrongdoing, deceit and rule violations." SMU's record, the committee said, was "nothing short of abysmal," and the school had made no effort to reform itself over the past decade. 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.

David Berst, the chairman of the Infractions Committee, said years later that the Mustang football program was so riddled with corruption that "there simply didn't seem to be any options left." Several members of the committee that imposed the sanctions later said that when the NCAA first enacted the "repeat violator" rules, it never anticipated that there would ever be a situation meriting a "death penalty." However, they said their investigation of SMU revealed a program completely out of control.


The penalties handed down, in detail:
  • The 1987 season was canceled; only conditioning drills were permitted during the 1987 calendar year.
  • All home games in 1988 were canceled. SMU was allowed to play their seven regularly scheduled away games so that other institutions would not be financially affected.
  • The team's existing probation was extended until 1990. Its existing ban from bowl games and live television was extended to 1989.
  • SMU lost 55 new scholarship positions over 4 years.
  • SMU was required to ensure that Owen and eight other boosters previously banned from contact with the program were in fact banned, or else face further punishment.
  • The team was allowed to hire only five full-time assistant coaches, instead of the typical nine.
  • No off-campus recruiting was permitted until August 1988, and no paid visits could be made to campus by potential recruits until the start of the 1988-89 school year.

No football in 1988

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 immediately rushed to SMU. Representing many top football programs around the country such as Penn State
Penn State Nittany Lions football
The Penn State Nittany Lions football team represents the Pennsylvania State University in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I Football Bowl Subdivision as a member of the Big Ten Conference. It is one of the most tradition-rich and storied college football programs in the...

, Oklahoma
Oklahoma Sooners football
The Oklahoma Sooners football program is a college football team that represents the University of Oklahoma . The team is currently a member of the Big 12 Conference, which is a Division I Bowl Subdivision of the National Collegiate Athletic Association...

, and Alabama
Alabama Crimson Tide football
|TeamName = Alabama football |Image = Alabama Crimson Tide Logo.svg |ImageSize = 110 |Helmet = Alabama Football.png |ImageSize2 = 150 |CurrentSeason = 2011 Alabama Crimson Tide football team...

, they waited near the team's offices to persuade 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 1988 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 1988. That day, acting athletic director Dudley Parker said that the football team would not return in 1988 "unless we can really have a team" rather than merely "a bunch of youngsters (who) aren't capable of competing."

On April 11, 1987, SMU formally canceled the 1988 season. Acting president William Stallcup said that under the circumstances, SMU could not possibly field a competitive team in 1988. 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." Under these circumstances, Stallcup and other officials felt the players would have faced "an undue risk of serious injury." By this time, more than half of the Mustangs' scholarship players had transferred to other schools. Also, according to Southwest Conference 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.

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. Nonetheless, his reputation was ruined. Aside from being a finalist for an opening at Mississippi State
Mississippi State Bulldogs football
The Mississippi State Bulldogs football program represents Mississippi State University in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision, competing as a member of the Western Division of the Southeastern Conference. Mississippi State has produced 38 All-Americans, 171 All-SEC selections, and 124...

 in 1990 (which eventually went to Jackie Sherrill
Jackie Sherrill
Jackie Sherrill is a former American football player and coach. He served as the head coach at Washington State University , the University of Pittsburgh , Texas A&M University , and Mississippi State University , compiling a career college football record of 180–120–4...

), he has never been seriously considered for an opening at any level of college football.


SMU returned to football in 1989
1989 NCAA Division I-A football season
The 1989 NCAA Division I-A football season ended with Miami winning its third National Championship during the 80s, cementing its claim as the decade's top team, winning more titles than any other program....

 under coach Forrest Gregg
Forrest Gregg
Alvis Forrest Gregg is a former American football player and coach in the National Football League. During a Pro Football Hall of Fame playing career, he was a part of six championships, five of them with the Green Bay Packers before closing out his tenure with the Dallas Cowboys with a win in...

, a former Hall of Fame
Pro Football Hall of Fame
The Pro Football Hall of Fame is the hall of fame of professional football in the United States with an emphasis on the National Football League . It opened in Canton, Ohio, on September 7, 1963, with 17 charter inductees...

 lineman with the NFL's Green Bay Packers
Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers are an American football team based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League . The Packers are the current NFL champions...

 who had been a star at SMU in the early 1950s. He was hired in the spring of 1988 and inherited a team made up mostly of freshmen. Gregg's new charges were mostly undersized and underweight; he was taller and heavier than all but a few of the players on the 70-man squad. 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 1988. Games were moved to Ownby Stadium
Ownby Stadium
Ownby Stadium was a stadium in the University Park neighborhood of Dallas, Texas. It was the home of the Southern Methodist University Mustang football team.Named for Jordon Ownby, the stadium was built at the south end of the campus...

, a 23,000-seat facility where the Mustangs had played from 1926 to 1948, to symbolize administrators' intent to keep tighter control over the program. The Mustangs played there until 1994, when they moved to the Cotton Bowl
Cotton Bowl (stadium)
The Cotton Bowl is a stadium which opened in 1929 and became known as "The House That Doak Built" due to the immense crowds that former SMU running back Doak Walker drew to the stadium during his college career in the late 1940s. Originally known as Fair Park Stadium, it is located in Fair Park,...

, the scene of SMU's first glory era in the 1940s and 1950s. Since 2000, the Mustangs have played at Gerald J. Ford Stadium
Gerald J. Ford Stadium
Gerald J. Ford Stadium is a stadium in University Park, Texas, one of the two "Park Cities" that form an enclave within the city limits of Dallas. The stadium is used primarily for football, and it is home to the Southern Methodist University Mustangs and is frequently used for local high school...

, which was built at the location of the razed Ownby Stadium.

The scandal left the Mustang football program in ruin. 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 1992
1992 NCAA Division I-A football season
The 1992 NCAA Division I-A football season was the first year of the Bowl Coalition, and ended with Alabama's first national championship in thirteen years—their first since the departure of Bear Bryant...

, and it was another year before they fielded a team entirely made up of players unaffected by the scandal. Since 1989, SMU has had a record of 66-169-3. The fallout from the "death penalty" was not limited to SMU. The Southwest Conference already had a dubious reputation with the number of NCAA violations at its member schools (at one point, only three of its nine members were not on probation), and the discovery of the scandal further tarnished the conference's image. The scandal was one of many factors behind the SWC's ultimate dissolution in 1996.

Left without a conference, SMU moved initially to the Western Athletic Conference
Western Athletic Conference
The Western Athletic Conference is an American collegiate athletic conference, which was formed on July 27, 1962, making it the sixth oldest of the 11 college athletic conferences currently participating in the NCAA's Division I FBS...

 along with former SWC rival TCU
TCU Horned Frogs football
The TCU Horned Frogs football team is the intercollegiate football team of Texas Christian University. TCU competes as a member of the Mountain West Conference in the NCAA's Division I Football Bowl Subdivision, but will move to the Big 12 Conference for the 2012 season. TCU began playing football...

. The Mustangs eventually transferred to Conference USA
Conference USA
Conference USA, officially abbreviated C-USA, is a college athletic conference whose member institutions are located within the Southern United States. The conference participates in the NCAA's Division I in all sports...

 along with Rice in 2005, joining former SWC rival and C-USA charter member Houston
Houston Cougars
Houston Cougars is the name given to the sports teams of the University of Houston. Informally, the Houston Cougars have also been referred to as the Coogs, UH, or simply Houston. Houston's nickname was created by early physical education instructor of the university and former head football...

. The team continues to compete in the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision despite having an undergraduate enrollment of about 6,000 students—one of the smallest in the division.

Prior to joining Conference USA, SMU had only one winning season since returning from the "death penalty," in 1997
1997 NCAA Division I-A football season
The 1997 NCAA Division I-A football season, play of college football in the United States organized by the National Collegiate Athletic Association at the Division I-A level, began in late summer 1997 and culminated with the major bowl games in early January 1998. The national championship was...

. In 2009
2009 SMU Mustangs football team
The 2009 SMU Mustangs football team represented Southern Methodist University in the 2009 NCAA Division I FBS college football season. The Mustangs, led by second-year head coach June Jones, played their home games at Gerald J...

, the Mustangs made their first bowl appearance since 1984, a 45-10 victory over Nevada
Nevada Wolf Pack football
The Nevada Wolf Pack Football program represents the University of Nevada, Reno in college football. The Wolf Pack competes in the Western Athletic Conference at the Football Bowl Subdivision level of the NCAA...

 in the Hawaii Bowl
2009 Hawai'i Bowl
The 2009 Hawaii Bowl was the eighth edition of the college football bowl game, played at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii. The game started at 3:00 pm local time on Thursday, December 24, 2009, with the SMU Mustangs of Conference USA beating the Nevada Wolf Pack of the Western Athletic...

. They succeeded in winning the C-USA West Division in 2010
2010 SMU Mustangs football team
The 2010 SMU Mustangs football team represented Southern Methodist University in the 2010 NCAA Division I FBS football season. The Mustangs, led by third-year head coach June Jones, were members of Conference USA in the West Division and played their home games at Gerald J...

, giving them their first shot at winning a conference since 1984, but they lost in the Conference USA Championship
2010 Conference USA Football Championship Game
The 2010 Conference USA Football Championship Game presented by was played on December 4, 2010 at Bright House Networks Stadium in Orlando, FL. The game was played between the UCF Knights, winner of Conference USA's East Division, and the SMU Mustangs, the winner the West...

 to UCF. They did receive a second consecutive bowl bid, however. SMU was invited to participate in that year's Armed Forces Bowl
2010 Armed Forces Bowl
The 2010 Armed Forces Bowl was the eighth edition of the college football bowl game, and the first of two editions to be played at Gerald J. Ford Stadium on the campus of Southern Methodist University in the Dallas enclave of University Park, Texas. From the bowl's inception as the Fort Worth Bowl...

 to face Army
Army Black Knights football
The Army Black Knights football program represents the United States Military Academy. Army was recognized as the national champions in 1944, 1945 and 1946....

 in what amounted to another home game for SMU: because of construction at the game's primary site, Amon G. Carter Stadium
Amon G. Carter Stadium
Amon G. Carter Stadium is an open-air football stadium on the campus of Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas. It is the home stadium of the TCU Horned Frogs football team. It was named after Amon G...

 in Fort Worth, the game was held at SMU's Gerald J. Ford Stadium.

The far-reaching effects that resulted from enacting the "death penalty" on SMU has reportedly made the NCAA skittish about issuing another one. Since 1987, 30 schools have committed two major violations within a five-year period, thus making them eligible for the "death penalty." However, the NCAA has seriously considered shutting down a Division I sport once since then, against Kentucky
Kentucky Wildcats
The Kentucky Wildcats are the men's and women's intercollegiate athletic squads of the University of Kentucky , a founding member of the Southeastern Conference...

 men's basketball
Kentucky Wildcats men's basketball
The Kentucky Wildcats men's basketball team, representing the University of Kentucky, is the winningest in the history of college basketball, both in all-time wins and all-time winning percentage. Kentucky's all-time record currently stands at 2058–647...

 in 1989. It has actually handed down a "death penalty" only twice, both against smaller schools—Division II Morehouse College
Morehouse College
Morehouse College is a private, all-male, liberal arts, historically black college located in Atlanta, Georgia. Along with Hampden-Sydney College and Wabash College, Morehouse is one of three remaining traditional men's colleges in the United States....

 men's soccer in 2003 and Division III MacMurray College
MacMurray College
MacMurray College is a career-directed liberal arts college located in Jacksonville, Illinois. Its enrollment in fall 2011 was 548. It is from Springfield and from Chicago....

 men's tennis in 2005.

In 2002, John Lombardi, then president of the University of Florida
University of Florida
The University of Florida is an American public land-grant, sea-grant, and space-grant research university located on a campus in Gainesville, Florida. The university traces its historical origins to 1853, and has operated continuously on its present Gainesville campus since September 1906...

 and now president of the Louisiana State University System
Louisiana State University System
The Louisiana State University System is budgetarily the largest public university system in Louisiana. John V. Lombardi is the system's president...

, expressed the sentiment of many college officials when he said:
Despite the NCAA's apparent wariness about imposing such an extreme sanction, it has indicated that the SMU case is its standard for imposing it. For instance, in its investigation of Baylor basketball
Baylor University basketball scandal
The Baylor University basketball scandal was an incident in which the Baylor University men's basketball program was investigated and punished for numerous NCAA violations. The scandal broke out after the 2003 murder of men's basketball player Patrick Dennehy...

, the NCAA deemed Baylor's violations to be as serious as those SMU had engaged in almost 20 years earlier. However, it praised Baylor for taking swift corrective action, including forcing the resignation of coach Dave Bliss
Dave Bliss
Dave Bliss is a former American college basketball coach. He coached at University of Oklahoma, Southern Methodist University, University of New Mexico and Baylor University...

. According to the committee, Baylor's actions stood in marked contrast to SMU's behavior; as mentioned above, SMU officials knew serious violations were occurring and did nothing to stop them. Bliss was coach at SMU at the same time as the football scandal. Further supporting this, the NCAA handed down a "death penalty" to Morehouse in 2003 for what it deemed "a complete failure" to comply with NCAA rules and regulations, even though it was Morehouse's first major infractions case.

Clements apologized for his role in continuing the payments in March 1987. He said that the board had "reluctantly and uncomfortably" decided to continue the payments, feeling it had to honor previous committments. However, he said, in hindsight "we should have stopped (the payments) immediately" rather than merely phase the fund out. He faced calls for his impeachment
Impeachment in the United States
Impeachment in the United States is an expressed power of the legislature that allows for formal charges against a civil officer of government for crimes committed in office...

as a result of admitting his role in the payments; two state legislators argued that he would have never been elected had he honestly addressed his role in the scandal. While none of these efforts materialized, the scandal effectively ended Clements' political career; he did not run for re-election in 1990.

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