SMU Football Scandal Fall Project

By: Tyler Hopkins

Background of the crime

The Southern Methodist University football scandal also known as "Ponygate" was an incident where the football program at Southern Methodist University was investigated for massive violations of NCAA rules and regulations. The most serious violation was the operation of a slush fund, witch means they where paying players under the table. This occurred through 1970-1986. All of these violations took place with the school administrations full awareness and understanding. They knew the team was violating NCAA rules.


The university's football program was investigated by the NCAA on and off from 1970-1986. They received many violations and have been put on probation more than any other team during the time period. Although the NCAA investigated and provided the consequences for the program, WFAA sports director from channel 8, Dale Hanson decided to follow up on unanimous tips given to the news station. He invited former SMU players in to talk and really took the initiative in the investigation and publicized it, allowing the NCAA to follow up on his findings.

Time period

This situation took place from 1970 till about 1990. It was a pretty corrupt time in the college sports world because a lot of teams where violating recruiting rules and doing everything they could to get the best players out there. This time period had a big effect on SMU because they felt they could take advantage of what was going on. Since "everyone" was doing it.


The obvious suspect in this was the SMU football coaching staff and athletic director. But the SMU board of governors chairman Bill Clements was a big name in the case. Clements was extremely involved in the slush fund, he initially lied about the situation when he was going to run for governor of Texas, witch caused much more suspicion than what was already circulating. Along with the coaching staff and Clements, more school officials players and boosters where involved in the scandal. The most notable booster was Sherwood Blount, jr, a very wealthy real-estate developer.

Psychological profile

What the suspects of this scandal where doing was very popular during this time. It doesn't make it right. It just means there was nothing really messed up with the people involved. Other than they where un honest and cheated to win, witch in sports is not fair and deserves punishment.


A lot of evidence in this scandal came from confessions, while dale Hanson was interviewing former SMU football players. David Stanley, a former player said that SMU paid him 25,000 dollars, he informed NCAA officials that he basically had a contract with SMU, that assured he would continue to be paid. As the investigation went on, this piece of evidence became more credible when SMUs Clements admitted to paying players during an interview. When asked if they would stop paying players, he answered saying once we fulfill the promises to our athletes in the program now, we will make changes. Along with those things, after the case came to an end, recordings of conversations where found and provided more proof to the obvious violations.

Other facts

There were two former players that where extremely open in talking about the situation. Sean stopperich and David Stanley where former players at SMU that both received money to play at the university. They talked specifically how the university gave thousands of dollars to both their families and themselves.


At the end of this investigation the university was penalized with the "death penalty", witch meant the football program would be shut down. The penalty was enforced in 1987 and would last until 1990. This was so big in the sports world because it was the first time any program of any sport was given the "death penalty". Since then there have only been 4 more to receive it. The NCAA decided to do this after the interview with Clements when he obnoxiously said he paid his players, and had contracts with his players.

Other theories

It's obvious that SMU where paying there players and deserved the punishments given, the situation was handled properly even though it took a little long to get to the end of it. They have good evidence and it all relates well to the violation.