Florida's Best College Scandals
Man, college what a wild time! Remember when Joey got blasted on Jager shots and vomited on your iPhone or that time your tenured professor told you the Newtown shooting never happened? Or remember when another professor asked students to step on Jesus' name and that pissed off a lot folks? Oh and don't forget when your university almost sold the rights of the football stadium to the world's private prison officer? If you can recall any of these incidents then you're probably a student at Florida Atlantic University (Everybody there knows about the time Joey threw up on an iPhone. Just ask).
FAU President Mary Jane Saunders resigned last week following a trunkful of controversies (including hitting a student with her car). But Saunders shouldn't feel too awful about her repeated failures to run a competent university. Headline-grabbing scandals are a key facet of higher education in Florida. Almost as important as learnin' stuff.
We've compiled the most offensive, gruesome and despairing scandals to take place in Florida schools. Feeling nostalgic about those university days? You won't after this list.
The School: Florida State University The Scandal: Serial Killer Ted Bundy
Fraternities and sororities can be filled with terrible, crazy people. They curse out their "brothers" and "sisters," hold racist parties and call attention to the plight of the homeless in questionable ways. But Greek Life draws the line at serial killers. Tragically, psychopaths don't follow the rules of Greek Life, and one of the most grisly crimes ever to occur on a college campus happened at a sorority house at Florida State. On Jan. 15, 1978, mass murderer Ted Bundy killed two of his final victims at the Chi Omega house. He assaulted several other female students and left behind a gory scene that left the campus on edge. Bundy tallied at least 30 victims, most with long brown hair, in his four-year killing spree that took him across the country. He began in the Pacific northwest and was caught a month after the sorority murders (and weeks after killing a 12-year-old girl, his final victim). A Florida police officer pulled over the notorious maniac after noticing the VW Bug that Bundy drove was reported stolen. In 1989, Bundy would undergo a hazing technique known as the electric chair.
Hanneorla via Flickr
The School: Florida International University The Scandal: F(Spy)U
Ooh Cuban spies, masquerading as wealthy, well-connected and highly educated college professors? Is this the latest episode of The Americans? Or Homeland? Or Bob's Burgers? Wrong on all three accounts. This is something called real life. For three decades, FIU couple Carlos and Elsa Alvarez spied on Miami's Cuban community while earning advanced degrees and joining FIU's academic staff. The sneaky duo used complicated sounding "spy" gadgets like computers and short-wave radios to transmit intelligence to Cuba. In 2007, Carlos Alvarez received a five-year prison sentence on conspiracy charges and his wife was handed 3.5 years for harboring her husband's secret activities.
computerschool6_7 via Flickr
The School: All of Them (That Have a Major College Football) The Scandal: Everything (Related to College Football)
Wow, Florida. So good at college football, and equally as good at cheating at college football. Granted, Florida schools are so good at the former that sometimes it's easy to not care about the latter (Listen quietly. Do you hear it? It's the cliché college football fan justifying his program's follies by whining: "Everybody cheats." What a Panglossian view of the world!). The state's glorious college football history includes plenty of spectacular nadirs. Let's run through them like the 7th Floor Crew:
University of Florida The University of Florida got the ball rolling under head coach Charley Bell, who fell on his own sword in 1984, after the school was accused of spying (not the Cuban kind; just on opponents' practices) and paying players. OK today this sounds like not the worst violation ever (Go Gators!), and players might be getting paid legally one day. But sanctions did devastate the program until the 1990s when an Ol' Ball Coach named Steve Spurrier took over for Florida.
Florida State University Spurrier used his Southern-fried wit to stick his team's biggest rival with its most endearing nickname: Free Shoes University. Aww, it's a pretty cute joke. Reminding us of the tamer moments of Spurrier's rival with FSU's Bobby Bowden (whom Spurrier also accused of telling his players to make dirty hits). But Free Shoes University impressively worked with both of FSU's major controversies in the 90s. In 1993, an agent bankrolled nine Seminoles during a shopping spree at Foot Locker. In 1999, two of Florida State's biggest stars, Peter Warrick and Laveranues Coles, got an excellent discount on clothing and shoes at Dillard's (Although Dillard's? Ew). The wide receivers received $412.38 worth of swag for a totally arbitrary $21 dollars and 40 cents.
South Florida Jim Leavitt was the first coach in the history of South Florida. He was also the first coach in the history of South Florida to grab one of his players by the throat, slap him across the face and then lie about it to university officials. He was fired in 2010, after 13-years at South Florida.
Central Florida When UCF football coach George O'Leary lied on his resume, it cost him a dream job at Notre Dame. Since then, the Luck of the Former Irish coach has been rather impressive. His team has committed multiple NCAA violations and the Golden Knights once held an offseason-conditioning workout where a player died. The school was found liable in Ereck Plancher's death, but O'Leary survived the fallout.
University of Miami The University of Miami -- oh boy -- with The U it's hard to keep up with all the scandals (don't forget the awesomely vulgar "7th floor crew" rap or the brawl with FIU and its crippled football player). In 1995, a Miami official falsified Pell Grants to scam the government out of money, leading to the famous Sports Illustrated cover that stated: "Why the University of Miami should drop football." Then, Luther Campbell and several others were accused of a pay-for-play scheme where players were rewarded in cash for big plays. After the incident, the 2 Live Crew rapper disappeared, and nobody knows of his whereabouts today. In 2011, Nevin Shapiro dropped a bombshell from his prison cell, where he was serving time for a massive Ponzi Scheme. Shapiro revealed that he provided players cash, wild parties for stars and prostitutes. He even funded an abortion for a player's girlfriend. The case continues to dog Miami, even though the NCAA has bungled the investigation. Shapiro's name seemed like it would become synonymous with the worst of college football's "win above all else" culture, but an old pedophile named Sandusky would raise the bar in unimaginable ways two years later.
The School: Lynn University The Scandal: A Killer Deal on Dead Bodies
Who could pass up a great deal like this: 600 corpses for $110? Not Lynn University's mortuary science program. The school had discovered the Sam's Club of funeral companies. Turns out this deal on dead bodies was too good to be true. Hate it when that happens.
For three years, Lynn University received illegally obtained corpses from some sleazy fellow. The school claimed to be caught in a scam. The corpses, intended for cremation, were sent to Lynn University for embalming without the families' permission. Soon after the families found out college students were playing Operation on loved ones' cadavers, the mortuary science program kicked the bucket.
gojeffrey via Flickr
The School: Florida A&M The Scandal: Beating the Drum...Major
Hazing might be the stupidest tradition in all of higher ed. Yes, even worse than wearing leggings as pants. On Nov. 19, 2011, FAMU drum major Robert Champion died from hemorrhagic shock caused by blunt force trauma. This is what happens after you're pummeled by drum sticks, bass mallets and fists in a fun rite of passage performed on you by the university's famed marching band. Several students face manslaughter charges for taking part in the ritual (other band members have already reached a plea deal).
Brett Levin photography via flickr
The School: Florida Gulf Coast University The Scandal: Cinderella Killed the Panther Habitats
How wonderful was the magical Sweet 16 run of Florida Gulf Coast University, AKA Dunk City? Woo! That was so much fun! What could anyone have negative to say about that? Oh great. Here comes the lefties at Mother Jones to ruin all the fun. Dunk City, man. That was the best. I'm going to watch that Dunk City rap again. But if you want to learn about how FGCU "trampled over Florida panther habitat at the behest of a Big Ag benefactor," then enjoy this totally sad article that contains zero high-flying slam-dunks.
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