There were several servers, all of them patched last time long ago, some of them with obvious, gaping security holes. Possible black hat infestations on two of them (these were quite obvious, serving as an impromptu file storage).
A mish-mash of operating systems, some Linux, some BSD. Everything was mixed up, one machine would host an application that talked to the database on the other machine, while at the same time having a database serving data to the application on that other machine. Patchy development at its best.
System administrators were hired among the cheapest student population and they would work for months without being paid. The turnover was high, and before they asked me to fix it, they were already few months without a sysadmin.
I told them that I'll need to document everything first, then connect the dots (what belongs where, what services are needed and what services are redundant or unnecessary) and then propose a solution, also that I can't give an estimate of billed hours before this is done.
They rejected my offer.
Some time later, I've heard from a acquaintance that they deemed my uncertainty about how much time it will take to fix the mess as a sign of lack of professionalism, as they told my acquaintance this (literally):
"A good repairer will be paid little, but a bad repairer will be paid a lot."
(meaning that a good professional will fix everything magically in just one or two hours of ninja-sysadmining, so at the end he will cost them less than somebody who is going to take ages to fix things because he has no know-how to do it in ninja style).