Top 5 college storylines in Boston

December, 30, 2012
12/30/12
12:00
PM ET
Jerry YorkBarry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty ImagesBoston College celebrates following its win over Ferris State in the 2012 title game.
For some Boston colleges, 2012 was a banner year. For others, things could’ve been better.

Across the Commonwealth, college teams produced some truly memorable moments -- from MIT’s unexpected run to the national title game in Division III men’s hoops, to UMass men’s lacrosse spending time as the No. 1 team in the country en route to a CAA title, to Boston College men’s hockey winning another national title for head coach Jerry York.

And, of course, there are the moments fans would like to forget. Those likely include the entire season for the Commonwealth’s two Division I football programs; two separate allegations of sexual assault against Boston University hockey players and a subsequent task force to examine the culture of the program; and an academic cheating scandal at Harvard that embroiled many athletes, including two would-be men’s basketball captains.

So as 2012 winds down, here is one observer’s five most memorable moments in college sports in and around Boston in the past year:

5. BC football bottoms out

It was an ignominious end for Frank Spaziani.

The longtime assistant coach became head coach in 2009, and proceeded to watch his teams get worse each year he was in charge. The Eagles finally hit rock bottom (or so they hope) in 2012, as they went 2-10 (with a few fans wearing brown paper bags over their heads at Alumni) and had only one win against an FBS opponent (Maryland).

Spaziani was dismissed the day after the season ended with a loss at NC State.

4. BC hoops no better

On the hardwood, things weren’t much better. In his second season, Steve Donahue’s men’s basketball team finished with a record of 9-22, the most losses in Eagles history. And while Donahue has high hopes for the group he’s put together, they’re off to just a 6-5 start so far in 2012-13.

One of those losses was to Bryant University, which finished last season 2-28 and plays in the Northeast Conference. The Eagles also lost at home to Harvard, for the fifth straight season.

3. BU hockey, Harvard hoops dogged by scandal

There were scandals on both sides of the Charles in 2012.

On Comm. Ave., it began with two Boston University men’s hockey players being arrested and charged with sexual assault -- one, Corey Trivino, ultimately pleaded guilty to assault and battery and was sentenced to two years’ probation; the other, Max Nicastro, had charges dropped when the prosecution filed a nol pros statement, indicating it couldn’t prove the charges.

Those incidents led university president Robert A. Brown to launch a task force investigation, which found a lack of oversight of the program broadly and a “culture of sexual entitlement” on the team specifically. The task force delivered 14 recommendations, including, among other things, stripping longtime coach Jack Parker of the title of executive director of athletics and requiring hockey players to undergo sexual assault prevention training.

In Harvard Yard, the scandal reportedly began when a professor noticed the same odd typo appearing in multiple take-home exams in the “Introduction to Congress” class. Ultimately, the scandal involved as many as 125 students -- including would-be senior co-captains Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry.

Both Casey and Curry withdrew from school to protect their eligibility as the investigation continues. They would have faced one-year bans if they remained in school and were charged.

2. Harvard goes dancing

For the first time in 65 years, Harvard played in the NCAA tournament. After winning the first outright Ivy League title in the program’s more than 100-year history, Harvard earned its first NCAA berth since 1946.

Leaning heavily on senior captains Keith Wright and Oliver McNally, along with juniors Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry, Tommy Amaker’s team was ranked in the Top 25 for the first time in Harvard history (reaching as high as No. 21) along the way to Albuquerque, where they were beaten by Vanderbilt.

1. BC hockey wins the national title

While things haven’t been this bad on the gridiron and the hardwood for a long time, things haven’t been this good on the ice since … well, 2010. Coach Jerry York and the BC men’s hockey team won another national title, their third in the past five years (2008, 2010, 2012), banking on the superb goaltending of Parker Milner and the steady play of defenseman Tommy Cross and forward Chris Kreider.

Oh, and goals like this one from freshman sensation Johnny Gaudreau.

York closed out the year with another huge accomplishment, becoming the all-time leader in wins among college hockey coaches.

Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.

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