D-II Football Scandal Was Evil And BrilliantS

The NCAA just dropped the hammer on Division II Chadron (Neb.) State, invoking the dreaded "institutional control" clause and handing down major penalties. See? The NCAA's enforcers have done more this year than just screw up the Miami investigation.

This is a legitimate college scandal, a particularly gross one because it was the head coach helping himself on the side. There's a whole bunch of things that went on—an ineligible player, fudged practice hours, impermissible benefits—but the juiciest part was coach Bill O'Boyle funneling fundraiser money to secret bank accounts only he had access to.

(Brett McMurphy wonders when this scheme comes to D-1. I wonder how many D-1 programs are already running it. The plan worked successfully for seven years, and was only uncovered when O'Boyle got too greedy. He took the entire $30,000 raised by a golf fundraiser, and a school administrator wondered where it went.)

As an independent audit first discovered, O'Boyle maintained four separate secret accounts, to which he deposited thousands from donations and other athletic funds, and apparently withdrew from those accounts at will. He spent much of it on himself, writing checks to family members, paying for restaurant meals, even paying off a traffic ticket. Most of the money remains unaccounted for: he wrote many checks to cash.

But O'Boyle played Robin Hood on occasion. He personally paid concession workers, and funded recruiting trips. And in two instances, he wrote checks directly to players:

On one occasion, the former head coach gave a student-athlete $150 to settle a school bill. On another occasion, the former head coach provided $100 to a student-athlete so he could purchase health insurance.

(NCAA rules on health insurance for student-athletes are controversial and exploitable. It'd be nice if O'Boyle hadn't been treating himself to fancy dinners, because there's a real debate to be had over whether helping a kid pay for health insurance was wrong.)

Even though the investigation found O'Boyle did a good job of keeping his bank accounts secret, the coach has moved on and the school receives the brunt of the punishments, as so often happens with these things. Chadron State, whose best-known alumni are Don Beebe and Danny Woodhead, must forfeit all wins over the last two seasons. It will be on probation for the next three years. It faces a reduction in official recruit visits to campus, and must withhold one coach from recruiting trips.

O'Boyle received a two-year show-cause order, which would normally make him unemployable. But O'Boyle already has a new job! He's the offensive line coach at Southern Illinois, and as part of the penalties, can't be involved in any fundraising duties and must attend regular compliance meetings. Not so bad.

The full NCAA report:

Photo via John Thayer.