THE TULANE SCANDAL: A TIME FOR HARSH MEASURES
It has long been obvious that if the mess in big-time college sports is ever going to be cleaned up, university presidents are the ones who will do it. But when Tulane president Eamon Kelly moved last week to deal with his school's burgeoning athletic scandal, it was too late for any but the most drastic measure. Reacting to evidence of a point-shaving scheme involving Tulane's basketball team (SI, April 8) and allegations of improper payments to players, Kelly said he would recommend to Tulane's 23-member Board of Administrators that the school's basketball program be disbanded. He described dropping the sport as "the only way I know to demonstrate unambiguously this academic community's intolerance of the violations and actions we have uncovered."
Some Tulane boosters and students objected to Kelly's proposal to drop basketball, and on Saturday a crowd of 200 marched on the president's house in New Orleans to protest. But Kelly predicted that the Board, which is scheduled to meet on April 18, will endorse his recommendation. The Board will have to consider these new developments:
•After hearing evidence in the point-shaving case, an Orleans Parish grand jury last week returned indictments against eight people, including Tulane star John (Hot Rod) Williams and two other players, David Dominique and Bobby Thompson, who were accused of plotting to fix three Tulane games this winter. Two other players, Clyde Eads and Jon Johnson, have admitted involvement in the scheme and have been granted immunity from state prosecution.
•Tulane head coach Ned Fowler and two assistant coaches resigned. Kelly said that a university investigation had found that Fowler had made cash payments to players in violation of NCAA rules. According to a source close to the case, Williams said in a taped confession that in 1981 two Tulane recruiters had given him a box containing $10,000 to attend the school. Williams said one of them was former Tulane assistant Tom Green, now head coach at Fairleigh Dickinson. Investigators believe the second man was Robert Thompson, father of Bobby Thompson. Green denies any wrongdoing. The elder Thompson is now serving a three-year federal prison term for making illegal loans. Williams also reportedly said he received $100 a week from Fowler at Tulane. A source close to the case said that Johnson and a third player were also given money by Fowler. Fowler declined to discuss the allegations.
•Two sources, one of them a Tulane player, told SI that several team members used cocaine and marijuana on game days. "Some of them said they played better," one source said.
•Mark Olensky, one of three non-basketball-playing Tulane students indicted in the point-shaving case, was identified as the son of William Olensky, who's reportedly associated with a sports tout service. According to one source, father and son had a costly mix-up on lingo when the younger Olensky called his dad and told him to "get two dimes down" on the Tulane-Memphis State game on Feb. 20, one of the games in which point shaving allegedly occurred. The son called back and asked his dad if he'd gotten the $2,000 down. The father said he thought the son had meant $200. The source said the younger Olensky told his dad to "stick it...." Neither Olensky would comment.
•Tulane political science professor William Gwyn told SI that he has seen admission test scores of Tulane athletes and that they are "immeasurably below standard." Gwyn added, "We're not here to run a school for gladiators—that's not our purpose at all."
Given the malaise in college sports in general, it's fair to ask just what the purpose of Tulane and other universities really is. As Kelly sought to eliminate basketball at Tulane, a 44-member NCAA presidents' commission was preparing its own, presumably less dire proposals to deal with the rampant corruption in college athletics. The proposals will be considered at a special two-day NCAA convention in June. The convention couldn't be scheduled for a more appropriate site: New Orleans.
SERVICE WITH A SMILE
In a week of point-shaving and drug scandals, it was nice to hear about the good deed performed by the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavs were practicing for a game against the Golden State Warriors at the Potrero Hill Rec Center in one of San Francisco's poorer neighborhoods, and after the workout they played Ping-Pong on the club's slightly lopsided pool table. Next morning the Dallas team arrived at the rec center for another practice. The players piled out of the bus and hauled a brand-new $300 Ping-Pong table into the building.
THE MEN OF 'NOVA
Just hours before Villanova defeated Georgetown in the NCAA final, Al Severance, who coached the Wildcats into the first Final Four in 1939, died of a heart attack at 79 in his Lexington hotel room. Also in the news on that fateful Monday was Jake Nevin, 'Nova's trainer for the last 56 years, who, now ailing, was shown on TV watching the championship game from a wheelchair at court-side. For many years, Nevin, an inveterate practical joker, was Severance's second banana, but, as frequently happens in show biz, he sometimes upstaged the headliner. On one such occasion, the Wildcats were coming back from an away game. The team got out at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, and Severance struggled to get his bag onto the platform.
"I'm so weak I can barely lift my suitcase," Severance complained.
"It's the end of the season. You're getting tired," Nevin said. He smiled. "You're getting old, Al."
"Maybe you're right, Jake," sighed Severance, and shuffled off to catch the Paoli Local.
Later that night Severance's wife unpacked his things. She wondered why he was carrying six bricks in his suitcase.
Mike Flanagan isn't known for throwing wet ones, but the Orioles pitcher, who ruptured an Achilles tendon in February, will be doing just that as part of his rehabilitation. Doctors have advised him to start hurling—in a pool. "It should be interesting," says Flanagan. "I don't think I've ever pitched below sea level."
Another all-but-meaningless NHL regular season ended Sunday, and we say good riddance. When the NHL's 21 teams had finished with the campaign's 840 games, the 16 clubs that qualified for the playoffs included three that won roughly one-third of their games: the Detroit Red Wings, with a 27-41-12 record; the New York Rangers, 26-44-10; and the Minnesota North Stars, 25-43-12. The Philadelphia Flyers, whose record was 53-20-7, best in the league, had 27 more wins than the Rangers, yet when those two teams play their best-of-five first-round playoff series this week, Philly's only advantage will be an extra home game. That's hardly much of a prize for a team that had a vastly superior season in which it played for keeps in every game.
Is it too much to ask that the NHL limit playoff berths to teams that have .500 records or better? Someday NHL fans will wake up and decide that they're not going to pay to see regular-season games that don't really much matter.
THEY WON'T BE YELLING YUTAKA! YUTAKA! YUTAKA!
Among the most recent Japanese imports to reach our shores is a not-so-compact, 36-year-old southpaw named Yutaka Enatsu. But in one competitive face-off, Enatsu posed little threat to the native American product, 38-year-old slugger Reggie Jackson.
Enatsu, the highest-paid player in Japanese baseball, compiled an enviable 238-158 record with 193 saves in 18 seasons in the Far East. He's a maverick, by Japanese standards, as you might expect of a reliever whose nickname, Ippiki Okami, means Lone Wolf. Enatsu got into a shoving match with his manager on the Seibu Lions last year and was exiled to the minors. After the season he quit the Lions.
This spring Enatsu tried out with the Milwaukee Brewers. He wanted nothing better than to strike out Jackson, and when Brewer manager George Bamberger announced plans to start Enatsu against the California Angels in an exhibition game on April 2, an Enatsu-Jackson confrontation loomed. But Angels skipper Gene Mauch didn't start Jackson. "What do I care about Yutaka Enatsu?" he said. "I've got a couple of guys I want to find out about."
To the delight of the 50 or so Japanese reporters and cameramen who had been covering Enatsu's bid to make the majors, Mauch relented in the fifth inning and pinch-hit Jackson. "I got a call from Ronnie," Mauch joked diplomatically. Enatsu threw a ball and a strike. Then came the third pitch. Jackson pasted it into center for a single. He then presented Enatsu with one of his bats. "I thought he worked at Benihana," Jackson joked not-so-diplomatically.
Enatsu got to face Mr. October, but he never made it past April. The Brewers cut the Lone Wolf the following day.
Kelly wants to abolish basketball at the school.
Fowler allegedly made cash payments to several players.
The showdown left Enatsu empty-handed.
THEY SAID IT
•Rocky Bridges, San Francisco Giants coach, on the team's new shortstop Jose Gonzalez, who recently changed his last name to Uribe: "Jose was truly the player to be named later in the trade."
•Martina Navratilova, on her decision to not take out a Lloyd's of London insurance policy on her left arm: "They wanted an arm and a leg for it."
•Billy Gardner, Minnesota Twins manager, on outfielder Darrell (Downtown) Brown, who has hit one home run in 591 career at bats: "That must be an awful small town."