CITY DUMP: THE STORY OF THE 1951 CCNY BASKETBALL SCANDAL examines one of the most notorious incidents in college basketball history, when seven members of the City College of New York (CCNY) basketball team conspired with gamblers to fix games over two seasons (1949-51). The HBO Sports documentary debuts TUESDAY, MARCH 24 (10:00-11:00 p.m. ET), exclusively on HBO.
Other playdates: March 27 (7:00 p.m. ), 28 (11:30 a.m. ) and 30 (6:00 a.m., 3:30 p.m.), and April 3 (10:00 a.m., 5:15 p.m.) and 12 (10:00 a.m.).
"This is an important story in American sports history that now, more than ever, needs to be told," says Ross Greenburg, senior vice president and executive producer, HBO Sports. "The significance of the CCNY basketball scandal cannot be overstated. What happened to this group of young men nearly a half-century ago continues to occur time and time again because of the big-business nature of college basketball, with the accompanying infiltration of gambling into a world of vulnerable college students."
CITY DUMP: THE STORY OF THE 1951 CCNY BASKETBALL SCANDAL features HBO's critically acclaimed blend of rarely seen home movies and revealing interviews with the people who witnessed and chronicled one of the darkest chapters in sports history.
Interviewed for the special are former New York area college players Al McGuire and Junius Kellogg, broadcasters Marty Glickman and Marvin Kalb, authors Dave Anderson, Maury Allen, Stanley Cohen, Avery Corman, Charles Rosen and Sidney Zion, CCNY alumni Larry Gralla, Mort Sheinman, Dick Kaplan, Al Ragusa, Hannan Wexler, Moe Bragin and Ron Nadell, former New York City assistant district attorney Vincent O'Connor, Jackie Mason and others.
The CCNY basketball team of 1949-51 consisted of an extraordinary collection of players guided by venerable coach Nat Holman, with the 1949-50 Beavers becoming the first and only team ever to win both the NIT and NCAA championship titles in the same season. Prompted by this success, college basketball soared in popularity, as New York's Madison Square Garden emerged as the mecca of college hoops.
Spearheading CCNY's meteoric rise in basketball were New York high school products Ed Roman, Herb Cohen, Al Roth, Floyd Lane, Norm Mager, Ed Warner and Irwin Dambrot. In its penultimate season of 1949-50, the squad rolled to seven consecutive post-season victories and two titles, overcoming the likes of Kentucky, San Francisco, Ohio State and Bradley.
A year later, the players, the program and New York City major college basketball were all in turmoil. Each of the CCNY seven would eventually be charged with taking money to fix games. College basketball in New York was forever changed.
- Marvin Kalb, CCNY '51: "The school was special. The student body was special. The environment was special. The sense of having to achieve was special, and the people on the team were also special because there were Jewish kids on the team, there were black kids on the team. The idea of a WASP being on the team was literally unheard of. So you were dealing with minorities who had to make it. So there was that kind of psychological as well as physical energy behind everything the team did."
- Stanley Cohen: "This was a unique kind of institution. This was a place that took you in no matter who you were, no matter where your ancestors came from, no matter what your ethnic background. If you could pass the test, they took you. We were dealing here with the sons of immigrants and the grandsons of slaves. And you grew up knowing that City College was your out."
- Marvin Kalb on CCNY's stunning 89-50 semifinal triumph over Adolph Rupp's Kentucky Wildcats in the 1950 NIT championships: "It was not a basketball game. It was a cultural war, a religious war. It was City College's way of saying, 'Forgive me, but, screw you Adolph Rupp. We are also part of this country. It is not just yours. It is ours, too.' "
- Maury Allen, CCNY '53: "That was the last time I really believed in pure idealism. For these guys to sell out their school and themselves and their careers for eight hundred dollars, for a thousand dollars, for fifteen hundred dollars was just such an emotional blow. You never really recover from something like that. It is a wound in your psyche that lasts all your life... It is a little bit of a burden for all of us to carry who were in school at the time."
- Broadcaster Al McGuire, who played at St. John's (class of '51), on the big-business culture of major college basketball, in which players did not share: "You didn't get anything. You had no scratch, you had no green. Let me tell you, when you got no green, green talks. And green talks loud."
The executive producer of CITY DUMP: THE STORY OF THE 1951 CCNY BASKETBALL SCANDAL is Ross Greenburg; producers are George Roy and Steve Stern of Black Canyon Productions. David Harmon is the coordinating producer. Liev Schreiber narrates.