Binghamton in hot water for abuse of basketball program

Allegations that Binghamton University disregarded its own academic standards in furthering its Division I basketball program were confirmed by a recent report released by SUNY Central Administration.

Binghamton has been under an investigation ordered by SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher for four months. The report, which was presented to the Board of Trustees on Feb. 11, found that the actions and inactions of Lois DeFleur, president of Binghamton, and Joel Thirer, athletic director, contributed to the basketball program's downward spiral.

Binghamton's basketball team seemed to exhibit a Cinderella story when it qualified for the NCAA tournament last March. Closer scrutiny of the team, however, yielded a series of unsettling discoveries.

The story of the team's rise and fall traces back to March of 2007, when coach Kevin Broadus was hired from Georgetown, replacing longtime coach Al Walker.

According to the report, many players on the team were academically unqualified to attend Binghamton, but were given preferential treatment in the admissions process. Though players occasionally received failing marks in classes, Broadus allegedly interfered to change the grades. DeFleur is accused in the report of having loose standards and allowing her enthusiasm for the budding athletics program to distract her from the university's academic principles.

Over the past several months, several new recruits to the team were found to have both legal and academic troubles. Top scorers Emanuel Mayben and Malik Alvin were arrested for sale and possession of cocaine and stealing, respectively. Miladin Kovacevic was arrested in May of 2008 for beating a classmate into a coma; he returned to his home country of Serbia before a trial could be held.

The report also used text message records to confirm that assistant coach Marc Hsu provided Alvin with money, which is prohibited by the NCAA.

Under public pressure, Broadus released Mayben, Alvin and four other players from the team in September 2009, though all were allowed to remain students. Broadus himself was suspended the following month and remains on paid leave. Thirer has since been given an assignment outside of the athletic department and DeFleur is scheduled to retire this July.