Thursday, October 05, 2006

Cheater, cheater,cheater!

I was directed to this post from GPL. Things that make you go HUH?

Maine hockey started in 1977, its history really began when coach Shawn Walsh took over the program in 1984 and began winning the old-fashioned way, by cheating.

Armed with a lack of morality and a penchant for 24 year-old Canadians, Walsh quickly turned the Blackbears into a national power. NCAA rules be damned, it took less than ten years until Maine won its first National Title in 1993, and for the most part, has been a contender ever since.

Unfortunately, the legacy of Maine hockey and athletics in general is marred with several NCAA violations that would suggest they should be called the "Black marks", not the "Black Bears".

After Maine's historical season that saw them win 42 games and lose just once en route to the 1993 NCAA title, it didn't take long until the NCAA got wind of how U.Maine did its business. The very next season, it was found that Maine players Cal Ingraham and Jeff Tory played while academically ineligible and after an investigation, Maine had to forfeit 14 games and ended up getting credit for just 6 total wins. Since Maine, a true "no-collar institution", has the academic integrity of The Bauder College of Fashion, your superiors are at a loss to understand what one has to do to become academically ineligible from U. Maine.

Like a child who refused to learn its lesson, Maine was caught cheating once again in 1994 when it was discovered that several hockey players were receiving free food in the school cafeteria, a violation of NCAA rules. Your superiors have eaten on campus at U.Maine and truth be told, we wouldn't pay for that detritus, either. Though this would be minor compared to violations to come, it was clear that Shawn Walsh and his cast of crony assistants were finding new and exciting ways to cheat on a daily basis.

As the 1995-96 season got underway, less than a year after Walsh's Blackbears lost to Boink University in the 1995 NCAA final, Maine hockey was competely exposed for several rules violations. On December 12, 1995, it was announced that Maine's hockey program had violated 26 NCAA rules and was immediately banned from the 1996 Hockey East and NCAA Tournaments. Walsh was suspended for one entire year, while minions Grant Standbrook and Greg Cronin were banned from recruiting anywhere off-campus because of several recruiting violations. Without the luxury of recruiting 20-something mercenaries from Parts Unknown, Canada, Maine would take a hit on the ice as well.

Fortunately for Maine hockey, the NCAA violations stopped after coach Walsh died in 2001. His last game behind the bench for the Blackbears was a loss to Boston College in the 2001 NCAA quarterfinals. In one of those "life imitates art" moments, it should be noted that Walsh was kicked out of his last game midway through third period after arguing with referees regarding a penalty call. Few Maine fans realized as he left the bench that night in shame, he had coached his last game.

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