A Column of Enchantment: There’s No Explaining, Just Read It

Posted by Joseph Nardone on March 26th, 2015

Lots of people grow up hoping to one day become a professional athlete. Whether it is a guy who gets paid to hit a ball with a stick, hurl a different-sized ball towards the general direction of a basket, or hit other people as hard as you possibly can for the sake of a touchdown, most young people have at least entertained the notion. Then, well, reality sets in. Baseball requires incredible hand-eye coordination, which you most certainly do not have. Basketball is not looking for slightly chubby 6’0″ centers. Football requires you to not be a lazy oaf who thinks that running a 40 in nine seconds is an accomplishment. After that reality sets in, folks turn to other dreams. Some think about being a firefighter, others unicorn tamers, and a few more conjure up the idea of owning a pro sports team to fill that void of pro sports aspirations. There are a few other people, like me, who dream of something else. A world where they can own their own college. Wait… what? Let me explain. The purpose of wanting to own a university is not so much to help educate our youth — I mean, they’re rather helpless at this point anyway (am I right, Mike Wilbon?) — it is to selfishly oversee and build a Division I basketball program. Seems logical, right? Eh…

Luckily for me, I have a few friends who thought this was a tremendous idea. Now that we know such a thing is actually feasible, we started the process of building our university from scratch. With that being said, though, I doubt you want to read the logistics of it all. And to be honest, neither do I. Thankfully we live in a world where technology trumps all. I discovered an app on my phone which has allowed some form of time travel. Now, I can’t actually go to the future myself, but I can pull articles from there! That’s as exciting as hell. What I will now share with you is the article I found from 30 years from now that happens to tell the story of the university Randy, Drew, Bennet and I (all Rush the Court scribblers) started to build on Tuesday. I haven’t read it myself yet. I guess we will enjoy our college’s triumphs together! I bet we did awesome and the future is as cool as heck.

RTC pic hehehe

The Tragic Story of The Club State Pool Cleaners

Posted by Michael DeCourcy Jr. on March 26th, 2045

It is amazing to think that it has been 30 years since Club State University was formed from a simple idea. It was just four guys, bloggers (remember those?), who found a loophole in the then-governing body of college sports, the NCAA. As our history books have taught us, the NCAA was a rather inept governing body. It allowed athletes to be punished over others’ clerical errors, forced kids to play basketball games on school nights, and didn’t even pay them to play. Think about that: There was a time in our country when an institution limited another group of people’s powers, while making millions upon millions of dollars off the backs of their hard work, and a good chunk of people were kind of okay with it. Alas, this story has nothing to do with the now-ancient practice of free labor. It is about four men who changed college basketball by founding one of the greatest basketball programs ever, but one that’s time has seemingly passed because of so many tragic, yet preventable events.

The Club State Pool Cleaners were the brainchild of one man. Joseph Nardone, at the time, was a rather low-level blogger, incredibly unsuccessful in the business world, longing for a day when he could do something he actually loved. Articles from those years report on Nardone’s obsession with building a Division I program despite being pretty dumb. Here is an excerpt from Sports Illustrated (you may now know it as being called Sports With No Pictures) a few months after the paperwork to legalize the school was filed:

Nardone is clearly an idiot. If you have ever read his work on Rush The Court — an abomination of a column he calls A Column of Enchantment — you would know that he thinks rather highly of himself yet he has been incapable of busting through the new media world’s doors. It has seemed that out of bitterness and many other negative adjectives, Nardone has gone the route of funding a university via Kickstarter money along with some of his Rush the Court friends. This will surely end in disaster, as I have met actual doorknobs smarter than Mr. Nardone.

While that might seem rather harsh, many shared Sports Illustrated‘s sentiment. It didn’t help that Nardone got help from friends on the old version of this very site. Then called Rush the Court (how politically insensitive), Nardone called on Bennet Hayes, Drew Murawa, and founder Randy McClure for help. One must understand each man to understand how Club State’s story would ultimately end.

The Club Staters Never Reached This Level of Cool, But They Got Close

The Club Stater Founders Never Reached This Level of Cool, But They Got Close

Hayes was a man of leisure. He enjoyed to travel when he wasn’t working in an office full of people he generally liked. They liked him too. I mean, his reputation was of a fellow who would take his colleagues out to dinner, for some good food and drink, while often times picking up the bill. It was how his first wife, Lucy, met him. She spoke fondly about him after their divorce in 2028 to ESPN11:

Bennet was a real cutey when I met him. He would do anything and everything. But heaven forbid your lifestyle got in the way with his traveling. He was seriously obsessed with moving to California too. I never understood why. Could have been that hag of a second wife he ended up hooking up with. Really, the hell if I know.

Drew Murawa was clearly the most sane member of the foursome. Accounts from 30 years ago called him mostly positive things. Whether it was a man who enjoyed drinking casually, a fella who liked some quality music, or of a guy who got along with everyone he worked with even if it were to avoid altercations, most members of the human species liked him. Here is an actual post by Nardone before the two would later become business partners:

Drew is neat.

Finally, there’s Randy. A man so obscene that he had a website that was actually called Rush the Court. Think about that for a bit. There were approximately 47 million deaths from the time basketball was invented until rushing the court was banned in 2033 and this dude had a website named the same thing. Luckily for us, though, the entrepreneurial Sporting News bought out the website from him at some point and we correctly changed its name to something more appropriate and less offensive to the senses. Back to Randy. Here is a guy who had it all. He had a website, writers on his website, and something called a Twitter (a different story for a different time) handle. His life was good. But the allure of running a basketball program with his friends was just too much for him to pass up. As we find out later, Randy’s biggest flaw was his inflated sense of self and an ego that was building to insatiable levels. From College Basketball Talk‘s Rob Dauster during Club State’s first season:

Randy is dumb. I always knew he was dumb. I mean, dumb. #Daustermath. With that being said, I am really happy for him. Not as much as I am happy for myself, though. With him out of the picture I can proclaim my dominance as the world’s foremost college basketblogger. DEATH TO RANDY AND CLUB STATE.

Dauster — who was recently voted into The World Media Hall of Fame of Really Greatness — did not carry the same weight back then as he does today. If those words were spoken by today’s version of Dauster, there is a good chance Club State would have never happened. Like all things Dauster, though, he was right — and we should have listened to him.

Those types of sentiments were had by most. No one seemed to like any of these fellows despite how they magically put the program together.


“When they pitched the job to me I couldn’t believe it. Like, Alaska? In an ice arena? For real?” the only coach in the history of Club State, Bobby Hurley, told us when we interviewed him. “They offered me close to $3 million per year to start. At the time I was coming off a successful season with Buffalo and the only other options I had were DePaul. You have to remember. Back then DePaul wasn’t the 12-time World Champion DePaul… they were just a program. Had I have known that their new arena at the time, desire to win, and investment in the program would be what it was I would have chosen the Blue Demons over Club State, but that’s revisionist history.”

Bobby Hurley Addresses the Media in His Club State Blues.

Bobby Hurley Addresses the Media. He Took the Club State Job Minutes After This Photo Was Taken.

That was Club State’s first big move. The braintrust wanted Hurley as bad as they wanted anything. Hurley was a basketball legend, for all intents and purposes. He played for the Duke Blue Devils when they more closely represented what DePaul is today than the bottom-feeders they currently are. He then moved on to become a really successful coach at Buffalo before the foursome of founders at Club State made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. “I remember having a meeting with them,” Hurley said. “Nardone was sitting at the front of the table drinking vodka out of a Big Gulp cup. The other three guys were just kind of sitting there, staring at me, staring at them. It was surreal. Before I knew it Nardone began talking about legacies, Hayes started smiling, Randy yelled a bunch of cliched motivational phrases, and Drew danced on top of the table waiving a contract in his hand. To be honest, and it might sound stupid now, those guys sure seemed like winners to me. So, yeah, I signed the contract.”

Getting Hurley to be their head coach was just step one. The Club State foursome had much more work to do. They wanted their program to be eligible to play hoops starting in the 2015-16 college basketball season. They had already spent a large portion of their budget on hiring Hurley, though, and needed to turn to boosters they didn’t actually have yet. The Student Section had more on this during that offseason:

Club State is making a run to try to quickly get things together. Without much backing from a potential taxpayer-funded arena, the board at Club State has decided to turn their yet-to-be-legal institution private. People are rather unsure where any of this money is coming from, but the Pool Cleaners have already constructed their brand new ice-constructed arena, sponsored by Igloo, called the Igloo, and the campus is set. The oddest part of all of this seems to be the school’s insistence that it cares about academics, but even as their multi-million dollar arena is finished, they have only invested a few thousand dollars into building their actual campus — and, even worse, have only hired four teachers to teach the curriculum. Nevertheless, everything they have done has met the NCAA’s code for eligibility to play at the Division I level. I guess, after all the speculation, that the Pool Cleaners will be eligible to play this season and will join the WCC.

How could have no one seen it coming? Club State spent millions upon millions of dollars building an arena out of frozen water but spent pennies in comparison on the actual campus. It was as if the four founders were strictly building a university out of scratch to just have the basketball program of their dreams. Even Arizona’s head coach, Luke Walton, who was a candidate for the job at the time, knew something was up. “I remember asking them what kind of university they were going to be. Liberal Arts? A vocational school?” Walton recalled “Nardone just kept giggling and asked if I ever saw 30 Days of Night. Of course I saw the film because my father told me it was an actual representation of the government repressing the brain functions of those with a more functioning brain (note: this was before we all developed mutational power. Bill Walton was way ahead of his time. Many credit him with being the Father of Modern Mutations and Advances in Human Civilization). Well, Nardone told me we were going to study that movie… over and over and over, until more women thought he looked like Josh Hartnett and he’d be better with the ladies.”

That type of selfishness by Nardone and the other founders, the type that actually turned a once intrigued Luke Walton into a skeptic, should have been a sign of things to come.

The Igloo. Where Club State called home.

The Igloo. Where Club State Called Home.


All of that was about the birth of a program before its actual successes. Years would follow when Club State would go on to not only dominate the WCC but become a national power. Behind Hurley’s leadership as a coach and the four founders’ seemingly neverending funds for the program, the Pool Cleaners would go on to win seven out of 10 National Titles in their first decade of existence. People really rallied behind them as well. Unlike some of the other dominant programs of the time, TCSPC had a way with marketing. They invented hashtag night (another Twitter invention). Between #FreeWeinerNight to #FreeAdmissionNight all the way to #LiterallyMarryThePersonNextToYouNight, Club State marketed their games better than any entity in the history of sports. The 6,000 seat Igloo was filled to capacity every single night. That is despite its location in a void of Alaska where actual pockets of population are not near for a hundred miles in any direction.

“Man, they were so cool,” Hall of Fame but zero USBWA National Coach of the Year award winner John Calipari recently said. “What I had going on at Kentucky with the one-and-done stuff was pretty revolutionary, but the guys over there… man… whew! They not only embraced the one-and-done program, but it was more like a none-and-done. I mean, we all know now what happened, with kids never actually going to class during the day but instead watching 30 Days of Night with Nardone all the time, but they were it. I hearted them.”

The early successes of the program cannot be understated. Only the recent dominance by the Archie Miller-led DePaul Blue Demons could surpass it. Still, the bubble soon started to burst just a decade into their founding because of some intrepid reporters going beyond the laws and seeking some documents.


“Where was this money coming from?” then ESPN and Miami Herald personality Dan Le Betard said. “You could tell something was troubling over there in the non-continental United States. You could just tell. It didn’t take a {expletive} rocket scientist.” At the time Le Betard hosted a revolutionary picture-box show with Bomani Jones and his father, as well as still pumping out some of the best columns in the history of the world. He did long for some investigative reporting, though, and that’s how he ended up finding out what he did about the Pool Cleaners and their never ending slush fund. “I had a source inside the program. Like, real close to some of the founders. He was telling me that they skimmed money from the program as it started, laundered it through their university, and even stole money from boosters, alumni and anyone else they could get a few extra bucks from. I remember asking my source about it. He said they justified it by telling themselves they were just facilitating. I couldn’t believe it.”

NCAA by-laws were not just being broken, but actual laws. Laws made by the United States of America. Because of Le Betard’s tremendous, Pulitzer Prize-award winning investigation, Congress stepped in to investigate in 2040. The cynic in all of us thought it was to distract us from President Joe Biden’s lobster-fighting racket charges, but time would tell us otherwise. More thorough, FBI-led investigations were had and things were said. Despite Le Betard’s defiance to the FBI regarding revealing the name of his source, too much pressure was put on and a bomb was about to be dropped on the college basketball community — Andrew Murawa was Le Betard’s source. A member of the founding four of Club State was telling on his colleagues, for reasons at the time unknown, and things were about to change.


The three other members of the founding four were to be put on trial. According to documents, the FBI alleged that they were running a billion dollar-a-year scam. Not only that, but one of their own was going to testify against them. FanSided‘s Jack Jorgenson (who we should note was a personal friend of Nardone’s at the time) talked about it. Albeit in biased fashion:

It is as clear to me, as is the sky on a day with no clouds, that Congress is going after Club State for no reason other than jealousy. Steroids, paying players, and other things were apparently not enough. Now they have to blackmail Murawa to get to three other guys because they can’t stand that a team that resides in Alaska, which is one of the best academic institutions to ever grace God’s green Earth, can dominate a sport because they are just that talented.

No one was buying into any of the Club State propaganda. Not any more. Not again. The trial was about to begin, and all assumed that Nardone, McClure and Hayes would be going away for the rest of their lives while Murawa would likely be sent into witness protection. And then Andrew Murawa was dead, mysteriously no longer living just three days before he was set to testify against his former friends.

Everyone was shocked. No one knew exactly what happened. Was it Murawa’s guilt that made him commit suicide? Was it his former friends — the people he were going to testify against — who went after him before he sent them to jail? Did Murawa finally succumb to years worth of listening to Bill Walton that he couldn’t wait for the world to evolve and decided to not actually commit suicide, but instead join those with a higher thinking power on a comet that was passing by? Who knows. No one ever will. The result of this incident, however, was that all charges against the trio were dropped because the prosecution no longer had any legs to stand on during trial.


The authorities did have enough to shut down Club State University, though. While the settlement amounts are still hidden through the confidentiality agreements between all parties involved, theories have long speculated that Congress would never again press charges against anyone who ever played, coached, or had a job with the school. Which meant the three remaining founders were free to live the rest of their lives with billions of dollars.

(We should note here that interview requests with all three were denied multiple times.)


Where are they now, you ask? That is a tricky question. It has been a few years since Club State was shut down, Murawa was met with an early demise, and Bobby Hurley took over for Coach K at Duke when he finally stepped down after it was revealed he was actually a vampire. Some reports have stated that McClure is somewhere in Australia, always near the beach, drinking craft beer and riding the waves. As for Hayes, some have speculated that the three committed the murder of their friend, that the act took an extreme toll on him, and now on his 12th wife, he is still residing in California under an alias while struggling with the guilt. Nardone is another story altogether. Unlike his friends, he has relished in the public spotlight. He has started the United States Basketball Internet Scribblers Association to be in complete and feverish competition with the USBWA. He has also started a non-profit called Unicorns Are Our Friends, which strictly forbids others from de-horning unicorns.

Regardless of where they are now, their legacies have been written. Geniuses? Yes. Revolutionaries? You betcha. Cheaters? If you were to believe all the reports. Murderers? Only four men can answer that question and three of them aren’t talking while the other is dead.

The Club State Pool Cleaners changed college basketball forever. It only cost a man his life, college basketball its soul, a countless number of others their dignity, and despite of that we should still celebrate it. GO CLUB STATE!

(Politely Trotting On The Court Editors Note: This article is a side-piece that goes along with ESPN’s 30 For 30 which comes out this Sunday called Club State Gets Their Pool Cleaned, directed by former Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer)


(Back to present time, mind you)

Well, even with knowing the future I say we still do it. Sorry, Drew. Eh, I digress. Basketball — kind of.

Joseph Nardone (22 Posts)

Joseph has covered college basketball both (barely) professionally and otherwise for over five years. A Column of Enchantment for Rush The Court on Thursdays and other basketball stuff for The Student Section on other days.

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One response to “A Column of Enchantment: There’s No Explaining, Just Read It”

  1. Tony Geinzer says:

    I love your Club State tale. But, it would have smelt of Twitter in 2045 with no Phones, but expensive bandwith and Office Space in Orlando. I feel in real reality, Tennessee would finally be collared over Dallas Carter, which the NCAA Brass is too nice to deal Double Jeopardy. And, there is no chatter that’s good this Summer over Kansas and no true big men and Kentucky’s Californiaism is as done as Eddie Sutton and when the War on Drugs picked on Kentucky like Miami in the 1st. And, it would smack of “Accepted” and the less funny part is the R-Rated Voice Messages at Indianapolis, Daytona, Hutchison and Calabasas. Hey, in 2045, the Drake Bulldogs would circle NCAA Basketball Trophies in Des Moines with their Track and Field Power and I wish folk set their mind to term success, even if it was not always their friends.

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