Published: Mar 16, 2006 12:30 AM
Modified: Mar 16, 2006 07:46 AM
Throughout the 1950s, Reynolds Coliseum rocked with the biggest holiday basketball tournament in the country -- the Dixie Classic.
The three-day event in late December was even more popular than the postseason ACC Tournament.
But it was canceled in 1961 because of a national point-shaving scandal that included players from N.C. State University and UNC-Chapel Hill.
The field in the Dixie Classic consisted of the Big Four schools -- N.C. State, Duke, UNC and Wake Forest -- and four teams from different sections of the country.
Four N.C. State players -- Don Gallagher, Stan Niewierowski, Anton Muehlbauer and Terry Litchfield -- and UNC's Lou Brown were among players across the country who were charged with fixing college games in that era.
Top administrators at UNC and N.C. State disbanded the Classic and de-emphasized basketball by cutting their regular-season schedules. UNC played only 17 games in the 1961-62 season, Dean Smith's first as head coach.
"The Dixie Classic was an unspeakably harsh experience for all of us," recalled William Friday, former president of the UNC system. "In its day, [the Classic] was the Final Four. It was the biggest tournament in college basketball in those days."
Friday warned that the pressures on athletes remain and pointed to the millions of dollars bet on the Final Four. "That," Friday said, "creates enormous temptation."
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