Web Exclusives: From the P-Nut Gallery
a column by Nate Sellwyn nsellyn@princeton.edu

April 9, 2003:

Scandal-ball reaches Tigertown?
March Madness takes on a whole new meaning

By Nate Sellyn '04

This week, with March Madness still a pleasant and profitable memory in many minds, the controversy that rocked the campus several weeks ago has been all but forgotten. A refresher: When 16-11 Princeton wasn't awarded an at-large bid to the NCAA or the NIT tournaments, many were shocked. 'Didn't they see us barely lose to Texas?' the masses cried. 'Don't they know how nice our library is?' the masses lamented. The masses ran out of reasons after that, but their grumbling was very logical, and academic in nature.

When the tournament began, Princeton's absence became only a footnote, and so did all of the scandals that marred college basketball in March. From St. Bonaventure, where the university's president was forced to resign after it was learned he was involved with getting an ineligible player into the school, to Georgia, where the head coach resigned and his son, an assistant coach, was fired after a former player accused them of paying his bills, doing his schoolwork, and teaching a sham class on coaching. (P-Nut Note: If a coach wants to pay any of my bills or do any schoolwork, please inform him that I will not accuse him of anything. I won't even be upset. I may even hug him.)

But now, only a month and a half after the actual fact, the P-Nut has uncovered the real reason Princeton was left watching Greg Gumbel and the rest of the CBS gang from home: Its own scandal. The NCAA kept them out of the tourney because they were bad, bad boys. That's right, the Tigers joined Georgia, the Bonnies, and the rest of the scumbags back in March, but neglected to tell any of us about it. Don't worry though, faithful readers, I'll fill you in...

An anonymous source called me last week, identifying himself only as Dean F. He described a system corrupt on many levels, a cancerous appendage weakening the school's other healthy, athletic limbs. For example:

Recruiting: The downfall of so many programs. Apparently, Princeton lured students using illegal incentives. Lacoste polo shirts in a variety of pastel colors were given free of charge to a number of the nation's top high school seniors, several of whom eventually chose to attend Princeton. This was, of course, recourse from Princeton's initial offer of a top-flight education, which was refused with a friendly smile by players across the nation.

Academics: Like at Fresno State, where a former student claimed he was paid to write papers for members of the men's basketball team, several Princeton students have come forward saying they did extra schoolwork, too. Unlike Fresno, though, all these students are also players on the basketball team. "It was nothing really," one tall guard from Iowa said to me on condition of anonymity, "just us requesting additional reading in some classes for the bus, maybe doing an extra paper or two for bonus credit. It wasn't about grades, we just wanted to learn. I mean, we miss a few classes due to travel and stuff, but I came here for Greek and Latin, not to shoot jumpers."

Unauthorized privileges: Princeton players, Dean F. revealed to me, were given free access to online versions of both the Oxford English Dictionary online and the Middle English Dictionary. They used these valuable academic resources several times a day, investigating the origins of words from "meydon" to "panopticon," exploiting this privilege no end. Furthermore, the team was given unlimited access to a photocopier and free paper. They used this to disseminate textbooks among themselves. "Maybe I was reading about entanglement, or the last digits of pi, but another guy wanted to also," my tall source said, "so I'd just use the photocopier to help him out. I mean, everyone deserves to know about the possibility of infinite separate universes, right? Is it so wrong?"

Ineligibility: Finally, several Tigers were found to be ineligible. Spencer Gloger, the NCAA discovered, still technically plays at UCLA, and has been attending school there all semester. "I got confused," he explained in an appeal, "I lost track of where I'd transferred to last. I promise I'll switch again at the end of the season." Another player, Ikslavokokos Drivmenchy, was found to be more than 40 years old. "Hey, how am I supposed to know that?" Coach John Thompson '88 said, "Oh, he has a full beard? All the Europeans I've tried out were pretty hairy. He has a grandkid? Who doesn't these days?"

Needlessly to say, I was shocked when given this information, and felt ashamed for complaining about Princeton's fate. The Tigers should feel lucky they avoided the public lambasting given to other teams who, in many cases, committed far lesser offenses. The P-Nut is revolted, and you should be too.


You can reach Nate at nsellyn@Princeton.EDU