The N.C.A.A. vacated Western Kentucky’s third-place finish and required the university to repay its share of tournament proceeds, more than $66,000 (the equivalent of more than $360,000 today).
It was not the last time contracts caused problems for McDaniels. During his rookie professional season, he left the Cougars for the Seattle SuperSonics of the National Basketball Association after a disagreement about the terms of his A.B.A. contract.
He was one of many A.B.A. players, most notably Julius Erving, who moved from one league to the other in search of better deals. (The leagues merged in 1976.)
The legal equivalent of a bench-clearing brawl ensued. Lawsuits, to wide publicity, were filed by the Cougars, the Sonics, McDaniels and others involved in his contracts.
The Cougars eventually relented, and McDaniels stayed in Seattle. But his tenure there was brief. His average dropped from 26.8 points per game with the Cougars to 9.4 with the Sonics that season, and Seattle released him in 1974.
After a year in Italy, he played for the Los Angeles Lakers of the N.B.A. and the Kentucky Colonels of the A.B.A. He played his last season as a reserve center for the N.B.A.’s Buffalo Braves, which he joined after another year in Europe.
“I’m a player and a very dedicated athlete,” McDaniels told United Press International in 1977. “When I leave the game, I want to be able to say that good or bad, I gave 100 percent.”
He retired in 1978 with a career average of 10 points per game.
James Ronald McDaniels was born in Scottsville, Ky., on April 2, 1948, to James McDaniels and the former Sendy Binom. His stepfather, Dickie Stovall, helped raise him.
Western Kentucky recruited him after he had a standout high school career in Scottsville, averaging nearly 40 points per game as a senior. He holds a number of university career records, including those for field goals (935), scoring average (27.6 points) and total points (2,238). (Courtney Lee tied that mark in 2008, but McDaniels did it before there were three-point shots in college basketball.)
He graduated in 1971 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology.
After retiring, he coached high school basketball and sold cars. He married Carolyn Wright in 1990.
In addition to his wife, with whom he lived…