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Worst College Scandals of All Time

By Allison Freeland
Posted Mar 23, 2012 in World
College is a place where most people go when they want to get an education, but sometimes, it can also be a source of scandal. In the wake of the Penn State debacle in which a number of boys may have been sexually assaulted by Sandusky, it’s tempting to speculate on the top college scandals of all time. Here are some of the worst college scandals of all time
Penn State – Child Sexual Abuse
The child sexual abuse scandal at Pennsylvania State University would have to be at the top of the list for college scandals. Following revelations of alleged inappropriate sexual conduct by Sandusky, Paterno lost his job for not following up on the reports of an assistant coach. High-level school officials have been accused of a cover-up, school president Graham Spanier was forced to resign, and there are allegations that the Second Mile Group Foster Home and Clinton County High School employees were also aware of the abuse and took no action. Sandusky was eventually arrested on 40 counts of sex crimes.
Southern University – Falsifying Grades and Degrees
An operation in place since 1995 was discovered in 2003 at the Baton Rouge campus of Southern University. Southern’s administrators discovered a former assistant registrar had been accepting payments from students to illegally change grades or issue degrees that had never been earned. Although the university had policies in place to prevent such practices, they were not followed. Over 500 students were implicated in the scandal at the historically black institution. (
Columbia University – Drug Dealing
Three fraternities at Columbia University were suspended December 8, 2010 after fraternity members were caught dealing illegal drugs. Although only five students were known to have been selling drugs, the ring was large enough that undercover officers made nearly $11,000 in illegal purchases. The students specialized in specific drugs and referred customers to each other, selling from their rooms and in common areas of the fraternity houses.
Baylor University – Murder
Patrick Dennehy, a forward for the Baylor basketball team, disappeared after expressing concerns about his safety at the school. He was found murdered and a classmate named Carlton Dotson confessed to the crime. The university was accused of negligence for ignoring Dotson’s drug abuse and NCAA regulations and because the basketball coach lied to investigators. Baylor lost basketball scholarships, the program was put on probation and the university was not allowed to play non-conference games during the 2005-2006 season.
UCLA – Selling Cadavers
In one of the more gruesome scandals involving colleges, Harry Reid, the director of UCLA’s willed-body program was found guilty of grand theft, embezzlement and tax evasion. Reid took money to allow body parts to be sold to pharmaceutical and medical research companies by Ernest Nelson. Nelson made over $1 million between 1999 and 2003 selling body parts.
Duke University – Cheating and Rape
In 2006 and 2007, three lacrosse students were accused of raping a stripper at a party. Although the case was eventually dropped because the stripper admitted she had falsely accused the students, the fact that she was black and the students were white inflamed racial tension. Some evidence, such as a graphic email that discussed killing and mutilation of strippers, surfaced during the investigation and scandalized the university. In 2007, a professor at Duke’s elite Fuqua School of Business uncovered a cheating ring that involved 34 graduate students.
About the Author: About the Author: This article was written by Allie Gray Freeland, Editor-in-Chief of Connect with Allie on Twitter @educationonline or, or peruse through the associate's degree, bachelor's degree, and master's degree options in our network.