Most sports betting scandals impact one team and involve a small handful of players. However, the 1951 point-shaving scandal that rocked the college basketball world was one of the most broad-reaching and devastating scandals in American sports history. It would not only shock sports fans of the era but have an impact on the sport for decades.
In 1950, City College of New York (CCNY) was on top of the college basketball world, having pulled off the rare feat of winning both the NCAA and NIT titles in the same year. However, within one year, the program would be in disarray after it came to light that many of its players were involved in a point-shaving scandal dating back to 1947. Three CCNY players were arrested in 1951 as part of a sting operation initiated by New York’s District Attorney after receiving reports of an attempt to fix games at nearby Manhattan College.
The investigation into the Manhattan College case soon showed a pattern of point-shaving at many of the top basketball programs around New York including CCNY and Long Island University (LIU). The investigation spread across the country, snaring players at schools including Kentucky, Bradley and Toledo who were working with organized crime to fix the outcome of games. In all, 33 players were accused of point-shaving by prosecutors.
The final impact of the 1951 point-shaving scandal was immense. The NCAA suspended Kentucky’s basketball team from playing in the 1952-53 season. Although the Wildcats were able to quickly recover and continue as a top program, the CCNY and LIU basketball programs were not so lucky. LIU would drop all athletic programs from 1951 to 1957, while CCNY’s basketball team would drop from the heights of Division I all the way down to Division III.