BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -- Last year the Binghamton Bearcats celebrated their first trip to the NCAA tournament, a landmark achievement for a program that moved to Division I in 2001.
But at what price glory?
On Thursday the Chancellor's office of the State University of New York system released the findings of a 99-page report -- the results of a four-month, $913,381 investigation of Binghamton athletics led by retired New York chief judge Judith Kaye.
The report documents how Binghamton officials compromised academic standards in order to build a winning men's basketball team, details how coaches and athletic officials at Binghamton pressured admissions staffers to admit questionable recruits and chronicles previously-unreported allegations of criminal behavior on the part of several former basketball players.
The report recommends hiring an "athletic oversight officer" for the entire State University of New York system, reporting to the chancellor and Board of Trustees on admissions, the academic progress and behavior of student-athletes, and rules compliance.
Citing text-message exchanges, the SUNY report also suggests Binghamton coaches made cash payments to players and assisted them with academic assignments.
"I am disappointed that a great institution like Binghamton University would, in any way, because of its athletic program, compromise its terrific academic reputation," SUNY chancellor Nancy Zimpher said Thursday in a conference call with reporters.
The SUNY report also cites potential NCAA violations by former Binghamton coach Kevin Broadus, who was placed on paid leave by the school last October.
"Coach Broadus, as was outlined in the internal investigation report issued today, has violated no major NCAA bylaws," his Alabama-based attorney, Don Jackson, said Thursday in a written statement to reporters.
"Coach Broadus is prepared to return to his position and continue to lead the young men that he committed himself to lead prior to their arrival in Binghamton."
Broadus, a former Georgetown assistant, was hired by Binghamton in 2007.
Under his leadership, the Bearcats went 23-9 last season and won the America East regular-season and tournament titles. They were 13-3 in league play and won a school-record 11 straight games before losing to Duke in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
But off-the-court incidents created a public perception the program was spiraling out of control.
The "tipping point," according to the report released Thursday, came last September when Binghamton president Lois DeFleur dismissed star player Emanuel "Tiki" Mayben and five of his teammates.
Mayben was arrested in Troy, N.Y., last September and charged with selling cocaine. Police said they found 3.4 grams of cocaine on Mayben when he was arrested. He has pleaded not guilty.
But the SUNY report details other allegations of criminal behavior and appears to provide evidence that Broadus and his assistant coaches attempted to control the public fallout. The report, citing documents obtained by Binghamton campus police, details the following incidents:
• On Sept. 7, 2009, according to a Binghamton University police report, basketball player David Fine was found with two grams of marijuana, and an unfinished marijuana cigarette in his dorm room. Officers smelled a strong odor of marijuana when they approached Fine's room and noted when they confronted Fine that he had red-glassy eyes. Fine denied knowledge of the marijuana and was not arrested.
• On Sept. 13, 2009, Binghamton University police stopped Emanuel "Tiki" Mayben for speeding and found marijuana in the driver's side door and on Mayben's person, according to a report of the incident. Mayben told officers the marijuana belonged to his teammate, Fine. He was ultimately cited for speeding and unlawful possession of marijuana.
• On Sept. 14, 2009, a Binghamton University student notified campus police that her debit card had been stolen and used illegally to purchase several items, including a television set. After questioning basketball player Chretien Lukusa and reviewing store surveillance video, Binghamton University police identified three players in stores where the stolen debit card was used: Derrick Rivera, Malik Alvin and Paul Crosby (a fourth player, Corey Chandler, later provided a statement to police about his role in the incident). Rivera told police he "found" the debit card and used it to purchase items with the other players. The case was forwarded to the Broome County, N.Y., District Attorney, who has declined a request for comment by ESPN.
The incident involving the stolen debit card, according to the SUNY report, reveals the extent to which Broadus and his assistants became involved in their players' off-the-court troubles.
On Sept. 18, 2009, when his players were being questioned by police, Broadus and his assistant coach, Marc Hsu, had the following text-message exchange, according to the SUNY report, which suggests the players were being coached on what to tell investigators:
Coach Hsu: [Assistant coach Julius Allen] just called me and said he wants to prep Corey [Chandler] on what to say...
Coach Broadus: "His story is the same as Paul and Malik!!!!!"
Beyond alleged criminal activity, the SUNY report cites several cases where academic standards were compromised in the interests of admitting basketball recruits.
"Coach Broadus assumed wider latitude to apply minimum NCAA standards for all player-applicants ... When Admissions personnel resisted this change in standards, the head coach and the athletic director pushed back strongly," the report says.
Among the findings cited in the report:
• Two recruits, with grade point averages well under 2.0, were admitted over the strong objections of members of the admissions office. In one case, Broadus himself was accused of confronting an admissions staffer in her office after she raised concerns about admitting a player, due to his poor academic record.
• Admissions staffers raised concerns when a transfer recruit sought past credit for courses that included "Bowling I; Care & Prevention of Injuries; Sports Officiating; Theories of Softball; Jogging; Tennis; and Strength & Training." The player was admitted and received 12 transfer credits, according to the SUNY report.
In a text-message exchange, cited in the SUNY report, Hsu discusses what appear to be cash payments with player Malik Alvin.
"Yo you got money on you?" Alving asked in his text.
In another exchange Alvin and Hsu discuss one of Alvin's class assignments.
"Yo the paper [is] due 12 noon… I wrote 2 1/2 pages but I need you to reword the part about the book because I got that from the internet," Alvin wrote to Hsu in a text message, according to the report.
Hsu replied: "Okay so send it to me then."
Hsu denied making cash payments to Alvin or assisting him with his course work, according to the report.
Allegations of academic misconduct at Binghamton came to light early last year when adjunct professor Sally Dear told the New York Times that she was pressured by athletic officials not to lower the grades of basketball players who were either skipping or performing poorly in her class.
"These guys are being put through without being held to the same standards that other students are being held to, and there are accommodations being made that as far as I'm concerned are unethical and very likely to be illegal," Dear told ESPN in an October interview.
Dear could not be reached for comment Thursday.
The fallout from the investigation has been far reaching. Former athletic director Joel Thirer resigned last September. DeFleur, citing personal concerns, recently announced she'll step down in July.
When asked Thursday if the SUNY findings would lead to more personnel changes, Zimpher declined to comment but added "our timetable is swift."
Zimpher vowed to make recommendations for action at next month's meeting of the Board of Trustees.
John Barr is a reporter in ESPN's Enterprise Unit. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Information from the Associated Press was included in this report.