FAYETTEVILLE — The NCAA announced an official investigation into the Arkansas Razorback basketball program over allegations it manufactured basketball rims at Bud Walton Arena to make it harder for opposing teams to score.
A source close to the basketball program contacted the NCAA with the information that has led to the investigation. The NCAA has not revealed the source’s name.
The university’s athletic department and Coach Mike Anderson has denied the allegations, saying it is the school’s loud-and-proud student fan base that propelled the Razorbacks to a 34-3 record over the last two years at Bud Walton Arena and in Arkansas.
The Hogs are just 7-20 away from home during that span.
“Statistically speaking, you have a better chance of getting struck by lightning in the Sahara Desert than having a home/away record that lopsided,” NCAA enforcement director Jonathan Duncan said. “I mean, really? C’Mon man.”
The source close to the program told the NCAA that Coach Anderson summoned students at the school’s Department of Mechanical Engineering to rig the rims so they could be tightened and made smaller by pressing a button from under the scorer’s table. The device reduced the size of the rim by about an inch for opposing teams, making it more difficult for opposing teams to score and thus get a win at Bud Walton Arena.
At half time, the rim would be mechanically positioned back to regulation size for the Hogs and the rim for the opposing teams would be reduced in size, the source told the NCAA.
NCAA officials visited the university over the weekend but found no evidence of manipulated rims, although the source claims Anderson heard word of the visit hours before NCAA officials arrived and summoned the engineering students to disable the device.
“I find it insulting, and I think the Razorback nation should find it insulting, that the NCAA would investigate such nonsense based on the story of one person whose name has not been made public,” Anderson said. “Everyone knows our fans rock. It’s all about 40 minutes of hell baby.”
NCAA officials said Monday evening they would call off the investigation if the Hogs can make it to the finals of the SEC Tournament this weekend or to the sweet sixteen of the NCAA Tournament, assuming they make it into the field of 65.