The most brazen episode was a midseason, two-handed, shelf-clearing, 90-minute shopping spree by members of the Florida State team that would go on to win college football's national championship. Running shoes galore. Team jackets of all colors. Dozens of hats, T-shirts, shorts and gloves. Winter coats that the players could wear to South Bend for the big game against the Fighting Irish. Some $6,000 worth of merchandise in all, armloads and armloads, large cartons crammed full, every item purchased on the credit card of Raul Bey, a Las Vegas businessman who was in a loose partnership with a street agent named Nate Cebrun.
"We had about seven boxes of stuff," says Corey Sawyer, a Seminole cornerback, describing the buying binge that took place last Nov. 7, six days before Florida State was upset by Notre Dame, the Seminoles' only loss of 1993. "Big boxes. We were fitting about 12 winter coats in one box. We just bought out Foot Locker. Period." Sawyer, though only a junior, made himself available for last month's NFL draft and was chosen by the Cincinnati Bengals as the first player in the fourth round. "Half the football team was there," says Sawyer, one of seven sources who told SI about the after-hours expedition to the Foot Locker store in Tallahassee's Governor's Square Mall. "We had four carloads of people. When we stopped, they [Bey and Cebrun] asked, 'Are y'all finished?' Everything was fine. That was the purpose of them coming to Tallahassee: to buy."
To buy not just clothing but also the honor of Florida State, whose national title is now tainted. At least seven players—Sawyer, linebacker Ken Alexander, offensive tackle Marvin Ferrell, tailback Sean Jackson, wide receiver Kevin Knox, fullback Tiger McMillon and offensive guard Patrick McNeil—made the trip to Foot Locker. In addition, an SI investigation has turned up evidence of cash payments made during the 1993 season to at least six players: all of the above-mentioned except Alexander. Like the Foot Locker foray, the payments were part of a month-long recruiting blitz by Bey, Cebrun and their confederates. Bey says that the operation, which he bankrolled at Cebrun's behest, set him back $60,000, and while that figure may be inflated, he clearly laid out substantial sums for airfare and hotel rooms for Cebrun, himself and others, and for the wining and dining as well as the enrichment of various Seminoles. Bey and Cebrun deny having given cash to players, but four sources agree that some of Bey's money went directly to players in the form of cash. The payments—as much as $10,000 in all—were allegedly made at two Tallahassee hotels and the school's football dorm, Burt Reynolds Hall.
Bey, a former computer executive from the San Francisco area, says he joined forces with Cebrun in hopes of breaking into sports marketing. His goal, he says, was to start a line of apparel, and he wanted Florida State players to wear and endorse his merchandise. Bey turned for guidance to Cebrun, one of a growing breed of free-lance operatives known as bird dogs. The bird dog's modus operandi is to get to know top college athletes and steer them toward an agent in return for a commission. All too often the bird dog does so through gifts, cash and promises of favors. Never mind that giving or promising gifts to college athletes violates NCAA rules or that in Florida it is against the law for an agent or a representative of an agent to give money to or buy gifts for a college athlete with eligibility remaining.
Had the NCAA learned about the payments before the end of last season, the Seminoles who accepted favors from Bey and company would presumably have lost their eligibility and been unable to play in any of Florida State's remaining games, including its 18-16 Orange Bowl victory over Nebraska on New Year's Day, which decided the national championship. Further, if any members of Seminole coach Bobby Bowden's staff knew about the infractions, or even suspected them, and failed to report them to the NCAA, Florida State might have to forfeit the games for which those players were ineligible and might be placed on probation by the NCAA. Says NCAA director of enforcement David Berst, "An institution is obligated to apply the rules about amateurism and eligibility to its student-athletes and report any possible violations."
Until last weekend Florida State did not report the violations to the NCAA or the Atlantic Coast Conference—because, say Bowden and athletic director Bob Goin, the school did not know about them. But while Florida State coaches are by all accounts diligent in admonishing their athletes about the perils of dealing with agents, they appear to have been lax, at least in this case, in heeding warning signs. At practice on the day after the Foot Locker trip, the buying spree was the primary topic of conversation among Seminole players. According to Sawyer, one assistant coach, Jim Gladden, appeared to know something about the outing. "At least he was giving the players the idea that he knew," Sawyer says. "He mentioned there were a whole lot of guys on the team wearing new shoes. He let everybody know he knew someone had done something wrong." But Gladden said last week, "I've never heard about any players' trip to Foot Locker. I've made gestures, kidded those kids, saying things like, Man, where'd you get those clothes? But never with an implication that they got them illegally."
In another indication that the Seminole staff may have suspected something was amiss, Bowden called a team meeting during the week after the Foot Locker visit. "It must have been Tuesday," Sawyer says. "Coach Bowden said he wasn't sure what happened, but he heard a lot of agents were coming around the dorm and buying things. Then he said, 'Guys, you can't throw your whole college career away on agents.' He didn't specify one person, but we knew what he was trying to get to." Sawyer says that Bowden didn't ask any questions to try to determine exactly what had happened the previous weekend. Bowden told SI that he called the meeting because he was concerned about a reported autograph-signing appearance by one Seminole player. In fact, sources say the appearance in question occurred more than two months earlier.
Nor was any action taken even after a Tallahassee woman who had been close to Cebrun, Meirley Lockhart, called a Seminole assistant coach, John Eason, in January and told him about the cash payments and the Foot Locker gifts. Eason, who is now an assistant at South Carolina, suggested that she see Seminole compliance officer Brian Mand and asked her to come to the athletic department. When she didn't, Eason concluded that she wasn't credible. To his credit, Eason talked to a couple of players to try to corroborate some of Lockhart's claims, but in hindsight it's obvious he should have taken her more seriously.
Only after being pressed last week by SI did Florida State officials begin to pursue details of the payments and gifts. The school's inquiry into the matter began in a heavy-handed manner. One of SI's sources, Paul Williams of Tallahassee, a grocery store worker and part-time high school football coach who had been enlisted by Cebrun and Bey as an on-the-scene recruiter, says he was grilled last Thursday in a late-night session with Goin, faculty athletic committee chairman Charles Ehrhardt, athletic department publicist Wayne Hogan and Seminole defensive back Corey Fuller, whom Williams had coached in high school.
Williams says he was tricked into meeting with the Seminole officials by Fuller and two other friends, who led him to believe the four were getting together socially. As the group rode in Fuller's Ford Explorer, Williams says, "I saw we were getting closer and closer to Florida State, and my heart started pounding. I was freaking out. I felt like I was being kidnapped." The two other friends left as Fuller ushered Williams into the Moore Athletic Center, which was dark except for a single beam of light emanating from an upstairs conference room. The terrified Williams took his seat at an oval table with Fuller and the Florida State administrators. Goin, Williams says, began by saying that the Seminole brass wanted answers immediately. For the next 90 minutes Williams told his inquisitors about Foot Locker, Bey and Cebrun, and provided details of improper payments.
After the meeting, as Williams was being driven home by Fuller, Williams says that Fuller said to him, "Man, if you mess with Florida State, you're messin' with your career. You won't be able to get a job in Tallahassee again."
Two days later, after following up on the information obtained from Williams and gleaned during questioning by SI reporters researching this story, Florida State announced at a press conference that it had determined that two players had received clothing from "a recruiter for an out-of-state, unregistered sports agent," and that one of those players had admitted accepting $40. School officials said that they had reported the infractions to the NCAA and the ACC earlier that day, had hired a law firm to investigate whether other violations had occurred and would work with law-enforcement officials to gather information that might lead to criminal prosecution of individuals who had improperly dealt with Seminole athletes. Calling the tactics of unscrupulous sports agents a "cancer," Goin lashed out at "the sleazebags who filter onto our campus" and "coerce" athletes to go astray.
The thrust of the press conference was that both Florida State and its players were victims. Bowden had said much the same thing in an interview earlier in the week. Asked whether the school could have been more scrupulous about keeping agents away from its players, Bowden said, "If your daddy's running around on his wife, she's the last one to find out. What do you expect us to do? We can't put security guards outside in the bushes at Reynolds Hall."
At stake in this burgeoning scandal, besides the eligibility of players last season, is the fate of at least two Seminoles who have eligibility remaining—McMillon and McNeil. There is the further question of Florida State's national championship. It is unlikely that either the Associated Press or USA Today, whose polls determine that honor, would try to strip the Seminoles of their title. Bowden said last week, "I feel like we earned the championship very fairly. It's kind of like the fifth down at Missouri—the officials missed it. If we're guilty, we should pay some price, but not forfeiting the national championship. They gave it to us. We don't intend to give it back."
Sawyer, for one, feels the same way about the loot he received. "At Florida State you work so hard to give to that program and get nothing out of it," he says. "The most you can get out of it is a trip to the NFL. I felt I was entitled to money or clothing. Why couldn't I have it?"
On Friday, Oct. 8, Cebrun arrived in Tallahassee to scout for Florida State players. Cebrun says he works on a free-lance basis—"I'm not on any agent's payroll"—though he has frequently intimated that he has some connection with Dallas agent Steve Endicott and has told of having ties with a fledgling Los Angeles agency, Spectrum Management. One of Spectrum's principals, Michael Harrison, denies having had any formal arrangement with Cebrun and last January wrote Cebrun that the agency would not welcome "referrals" from him.
In Tallahassee, Cebrun stayed with Lockhart, a widow who had been introduced to him by two old friends, Anne and Cecil Herndon of Valdosta, Ga. The Herndons called the 48-year-old Cebrun Mr. Las Vegas. His black-and-gold business card reads COACH NATE CEBRUN: PLAYER RELATIONS. He is smooth-talking and charming, 6'3", 270 to 280 pounds, gruff-voiced and big-bellied—outsized in every way. He wears two size-15 rings on his massive hands, one from the University of Nebraska, where he played freshman basketball, the other from UNLV. The UNLV ring has a diamond-or rhine-stone-studded number 1 set into its red stone face. It reads COACH NATE on one side and UNLV 103, DUKE 73 on the other.
Cebrun, like Bey, lives in Las Vegas. They were introduced by a mutual friend. "We [Bey and his associates] got involved with him as a business venture. We were going to help black athletes choose representation, to make sure the white man didn't screw over the black man anymore," says Bey, who is Puerto Rican. "Cebrun said he could produce athletes to wear our merchandise and promote our products. He said he could get any UNLV athlete. He said he used to be a coach or a recruiter or something at UNLV. He has a championship ring. He said that [Jerry] Tarkanian and he are close and that Tarkanian gave him the ring."
Tarkanian denies having given Cebrun the ring. UNLV officials say that for fund-raising purposes they sold a certain number of championship rings with fake stones for $100 each and that copies of the ring are sold at Vegas souvenir shops. Although he likes to be called Coach Nate, Cebrun was never a coach at UNLV. He was, however, involved in two NCAA violations at UNLV in 1993. Cebrun arranged for an airplane ticket to be bought for a Rebel player, Kebu Stewart, and he finagled complimentary rooms at the Sahara Hotel for the parents of another UNLV player, Isaiah Rider.
"Nate Cebrun is like one of those summer league coaches," says a UNLV official. "They get young guys when they're vulnerable and try to take care of them to establish a relationship, so later they can guide the player to an agent. They see making easy money on these kids."
Says Cebrun, "I counsel basketball players about their game and careers. For high school kids, I help them make the right choice about college. With college players, I consult with them about moving into the NBA."
Or the NFL, as was the case when Cebrun came to Tallahassee to try to lure some Seminoles to his stable of "consul-tees." Lockhart, who became romantically involved with Cebrun after he arrived in Tallahassee, remembers that Cebrun, almost from the moment he walked through her door, was itching to get over to Burt Reynolds Hall. During his first night in Tallahassee, he asked Lockhart to drive him to the dorm. While she sat in the car, Cebrun went into the dorm to try to meet players. He had no luck.
The next day Cebrun, undeterred, asked Lockhart if she knew anyone who might be acquainted with some of the Seminole players. Lockhart immediately thought of Williams, the son of a friend of hers who is a minister. The 30-year-old Williams was a part-time coach for Florida A&M University High School in '93 and before that had coached at Tallahassee's Rickards High. Lockhart called Williams, and he agreed to introduce Cebrun to Florida State players.
On Sunday, Oct. 10, the day after Florida State's big win over Miami, Williams set up a meeting of interested players for that evening. Lockhart drove the two men to Burt Reynolds Hall. Charlie Ward, the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback who led the Seminoles to last season's national title, was No. 1 on Cebrun's wish list, and according to Williams, the first place he and Cebrun tried was Ward's room. Ward wasn't there. "Next we went to Corey Sawyer's room," Williams recalls. There Sawyer assembled a dozen players. "Coach [Nate] took over. He pulled out a picture of himself with a group of players, including [former UNLV basketball stars] Larry Johnson and Stacy Augmon. He kept talking about UNLV. He promised he would take each of them to Las Vegas at the end of the season. To give them a taste of what they could expect in Vegas, he showed them a picture of himself with women wearing bikini bottoms and no tops. Nate told the players, 'If y'all need monies, either call me direct'—and he passed out his card—'or get in touch with Paul.' Eventually we went from room to room. He was showing me the ropes on how to give them personal attention. But I told him he had them, he didn't need to do no more talking. They were sold."
According to Sawyer, Cebrun repeatedly dropped Endicott's name during that first meeting. Endicott represents Larry Johnson and negotiated his 12-year, $84 million contract with the NBA Charlotte Hornets. "He [Cebrun] kept asking us to fly out to Las Vegas," Sawyer says. "They were basically trying to buy us. They were talking about buying cars. I'm not gonna lie, it was very tempting. He said he knew people who could get us tickets for the Bowe-Holyfield fight. He said he would fly us out there. He said he would take us to the strip joints, with some of the best females in America. We'll have females for you, hotel, limos, all the stuff that a college athlete would jump into."
Endicott, who subsequently flew to Tallahassee to meet with a number of the players that Cebrun had lined up, denies that he had a working agreement with Cebrun or that Cebrun was authorized to speak on his behalf. "I never heard of Nate Cebrun until the middle of the fall," Endicott says. "I know some of the stories he's been telling people. Somebody in Tallahassee called me and told me that he said he was representing me. I have no control over that. We never had any agreement."
It was 1 a.m. when Williams and Cebrun rejoined Lockhart in the car. "Man, I got 'em," Lockhart heard Cebrun brag to Williams. "All I have to do is show them my ring, talk to them about Larry Johnson and Endicott, and I got them."
The next day, Monday, Oct. 11, Cebrun and Williams returned to Burt Reynolds Hall to get the players to fill out forms asking for their phone numbers, weight, height, times in the 40 and the weight they could bench-press. There was nothing binding or improper about the forms, but they gave Cebrun something he could show to Spectrum, Endicott or any other agent he might try to strike a deal with. "The sheet was just a questionnaire," Williams says. "It wasn't an obligation. At least nine players signed them."
Says Lockhart, "Cebrun said he wanted to get the money to the ones who had signed up as soon as possible. He said the two things a player needs money for most are taking his girlfriend out and paying his phone bills. He asked me for money that day to give to the players, and I gave him $1,200 as a loan."
Lockhart also says that Cebrun placed a call to someone—whether it was Bey or an agent, Lockhart couldn't say—who agreed to wire him $500. On Tuesday, Lockhart drove Cebrun to the Western Union office on East Tennessee Street to collect the money. Then they picked up Williams and went back to the dorm.
"I never saw the money in his hand, but as he and Paul were getting out of the car, he told me, 'Let me run up here,' " Lockhart says." 'I at least need to give them this much money now, because in a day or two their phone is going to be cut off.' Later, in the car, Paul said, 'Man, did you see their faces when you walked in with the money?' "
Says Cebrun, "I don't know about any Florida State players getting any monies. I never put it in their hands." But he concedes that he offered to fly players to Las Vegas after the season, an offer that might also constitute an NCAA violation.
Williams, though, confirms Lockhart's account: "I can say 100 percent that Cebrun paid players. I know he gave them something, but I can't say how much. We went door-to-door, had individual talks. I can't remember which ones he gave money to. We went to everybody's door."
Williams says that after Cebrun paid the players, the players were impressed that Cebrun had "kept his word." According to Williams, Cebrun later told him, " 'If you show them that you're for real and come through, you'll get them every time.' "
Lockhart recalls the conversation too. She says, "He told Paul, 'You got those guys now. You don't have to worry. They have seen that we do what we say.' "
Cebrun enlisted Williams to help keep an eye on the Seminole players who had filled out the questionnaires. He also gave Williams instructions on how best to recruit Ward. Williams says he was told to offer Ward seven pairs of shoes, seven Starter jackets and seven caps. Then he was supposed to tell Ward to call Endicott. "I tried to spend time with Charlie Ward, but he was to himself," says Williams, whose overtures to Ward on behalf of Cebrun were rebuffed.
The Seminole players began referring to Williams as "Ole Boy, the little runaround guy," according to Sawyer. "He was a lowlife," Sawyer says. "All he did was walk around there, check up on us. asking, 'Y'all need some money?' A couple of days after Coach Nate had been there the first time, [Williams] told me, 'Coach Nate told me to give this to you.' I was like, O.K., thanks. I wasn't gonna turn down money. It was about $60 or $80, no more than $100. It was in $20 bills. He said, 'Coach Nate said just give this to all the guys.' I was like, 'Cool.' " Williams says he gave Sawyer an amount closer to $250. Of the six players who according to SI's sources accepted improper payments, only Sawyer admits having done so. The others—Ferrell, Jackson, Knox, McMillon and McNeil—deny taking the cash.
Williams says that he was promised a $300-a-week salary by Cebrun. The money was to come from Bey. Williams promptly quit his $6-an-hour job stacking shelves at Harvey's grocery store. "Nate and Raul wanted the players to be my main concern," Williams says. "They wanted me to baby-sit the players 24 hours a day. The players would come to me for cash. If they had to take their girlfriends out, they asked me for $20.I spent all my time at the dorm, trying to cater to their every need."
Williams says the money that he handed out to the players was wired to him from Bey on at least three occasions. Bey, however, will admit only to giving Williams money so that Williams could get his car out of the shop, and implies that if Williams was paying the Seminoles, he was doing it on his own or at the direction of Cebrun. "I never authorized payments to players or gave anyone money to give to players," Bey says. "Nate Cebrun asked for a lot of money a lot of times that he said was necessary to conduct the business at hand."
Asked to respond to that allegation, Cebrun points the finger right back at Bey: "All the funding came from Raul. I had no money."
Bey arrived in Tallahassee on Friday, Nov. 5, the day before Florida State's 49-20 win at Maryland. Cebrun, Bey and Bey's son-in-law, Sonny Pagan, were staying at the Sheraton Tallahassee. That Saturday night, about 10 of the Seminoles had dinner at Lockhart's house, where they met Bey and watched the Riddick Bowe-Evander Holyfield rematch on pay-per-view. According to Sawyer, it was Cebrun who orchestrated the excursion to the Foot Locker one day later. "Coach Nate was the one saying, 'Let's go to the mall,' " Sawyer says. "Nate was the speaker, Raul was the provider."
The Foot Locker visit occurred on Sunday, late in the afternoon, at closing time. "They shut down everything so that no one else could come in," Sawyer says. "We were the only ones in there. We left out of the back door of the store."
"Yeah, I took them shopping because these guys had no shoes. They were walking around with holes in their shoes," says Bey. "I didn't do it to get anything from them, I did it because they were barefoot. But it got out of control. We took some guys to buy a pair of sneakers and a jacket and a pair of shorts, and all of a sudden they just started taking things off the shelves. They were like kids let loose in the candy store. I said, 'What the hell's going on?' But I felt obligated."
"Everybody was active, grabbing stuff," says Sawyer. "I was active too. I picked out my stuff on the sly. I didn't touch the stuff. I just pointed out what I wanted. But a couple of times I grabbed my own stuff, too. I got like six pairs of shoes; every warmup suit in there, about nine of them. I got some big coats for winter, five of them—yep, Fila—and some hockey team coats. I like bright colors, I don't care what team it is, I go for colors. I love hats; I got about 12. I even got little baby clothes for my daughter [Mercedes, 2]: a Fila jogging suit, plus two others, a couple of big jackets in different colors and a pair of shoes."
Like Sawyer, Jackson and Ferrell admit to having participated in the Foot Locker spree. "It came to a point where I thought I was being too greedy, but they [Bey and Cebrun] told me to go on and get it," says Jackson.
"I wasn't one of the fortunate ones," Ferrell says, without irony, after estimating that the merchandise he walked out with was worth some $600. "But I got a few baseball caps, some shirts, socks, shoes and two jackets. I saw the other guys grabbing things, and I said to myself, Hey, I might as well go ahead and pick up a few things, too. I knew it was illegal. I can't say why I did it." Ferrell says that he took some goods he didn't need, in particular a heavy, knee-length jacket. "There hasn't been a cold day here since I got that jacket, it seems like," he says ruefully.
Three other players identified by SI's sources as having participated in the Foot Locker outing—Alexander, Knox and McMillon—deny having been present, and a fourth, McNeil, could not be reached. "I heard things, but I wasn't there," says Knox. Alexander, a two-time winner of the team academic award who was recently admitted to Florida State Law School, says, "Foot Locker? That's news to me." He begins to giggle uncontrollably. "I wish I would have known someone was picking up the tab at Foot Locker. I love going to Foot Locker. I didn't hear anything about it. I would have gone. I can't believe I missed the boat like that." Despite Alexander's mirthful denial, Sawyer and Williams both remember his presence at Foot Locker that Sunday. Afterward Bey took a group of players to dinner at the Crystal River Restaurant, where he picked up the $600 tab, which would be another NCAA violation. On top of all that, according to Williams, there was a second trip to Foot Locker the following day. Williams says Bey told him that Bey and McMillon went to the store and bought $1,500 worth of apparel for "the players who missed out" on the previous day's spree. Bey won't comment on the second Foot Locker outing, and McMillon says it did not happen.
Tepid though they were, Bowden's warnings at the team meeting that week about agents scared some of the players. "Everybody who went to Foot Locker came to my room that night after dinner," says Sawyer. "Ken [Alexander] said, 'Let's take the stuff back.' But some of the other guys, like Knox, said the coach didn't know who was involved. If he had known, he would have had a meeting with specific guys. So everybody agreed on it. If you want to take your own stuff back, you can. But you're on your own."
Bey and Cebrun made another trip to Tallahassee on the weekend of the Florida State-Florida game on Nov. 27. Bey, his son, Anthony, and Cebrun checked into the Radisson Hotel and invited players to their rooms. "Me and Sean [Jackson] went in there together," Sawyer recalls. "Raul said if we wanted to go with them, we'd get an allowance until we finished school. Then he said, 'I got a little something for you. He pulled a $100 bill out of his pocket and handed it to me. I balled it up and put it in my hand." Sawyer says that several other players also received money at the Radisson from Bey. "They showed it, they talked about it, they compared notes," Sawyer says. " 'How much you got?' 'I got $100.' 'Yep, I got $100 too.' "
After Bey and Cebrun left town on Nov. 29, Williams says he continued to deliver money to players until early December, when friction developed between Bey and Cebrun, and Williams was cut off. Williams's last delivery, he says, was $365, which he gave to Jackson. "The $365 was for a plane ticket for Sean because he needed money to go home to Louisiana to see his mother."
Williams says he gave the money in an envelope to Ferrell to give to Jackson. Jackson denies having received any payments, but Ferrell says he was indeed given an envelope by Williams that apparently contained cash. "Williams said it was money," Ferrell says. "He asked me to give it to Sean. It felt like a decent amount of change. I didn't open the envelope. I just gave it to Sean." Ferrell calls Williams a gofer for Cebrun and Bey and says that Williams came to the dorm numerous times to deliver money to several players other than Jackson but that he didn't receive any himself. However, Williams recalls giving Ferrell $100 on one occasion in his dormitory room.
At the urging of Bey and Cebrun, Endicott went to Tallahassee on Monday, Nov. 29, and gave his pitch to a number of the players the two men had recruited. By all accounts Endicott made no effort to sign players to contracts and offered none of them money or gifts.
"That was the last time I saw them," says Sawyer, referring to Bey and Cebrun. "Raul called me one time and said there was a little problem. He said he and Coach Nate weren't on a stable level anymore, and he couldn't trust Coach Nate. I guess things just exploded."
A mysterious collection of documents about Cebrun lit the fuse. A few days before the Orange Bowl, somebody sent copies of a damning, 50-page, mostly handwritten packet to Bey, Endicott and Lockhart. Packets were also addressed to several Florida State players, although it isn't clear that any of them received one. In a rambling fashion, the packet detailed, among other things, a felony conviction for grand theft in California in 1976. Also enclosed was a letter that accused Cebrun of "attempting to con, abuse, misuse, manipulate and corrupt" college athletes.
Lockhart read the packet and broke off her relationship with Cebrun. Bey came to the conclusion that he'd been conned by Cebrun. "He gains your trust and then just goes into your pocket as deep as he can for as long as he can," he says. "Then he runs out of town and moves on to the next guy. After we got that file, we had our lawyer write him and tell him we severed all ties to him."
For whatever reason, most of the Florida State players soured on Cebrun too, and gave him a wide berth when he showed up at the Orange Bowl. In the end Bey and Cebrun had nothing to show for their efforts. Knox eventually signed with Spectrum Management, but both he and Harrison say that Cebrun had nothing to do with the signing. No Florida State player signed with Endicott. For all of Bey's expenditures, no Seminole player will promote his hoped-for apparel line.
But the saga isn't over. Beyond the apparent NCAA rules infractions, laws may have been broken. In Florida, individuals other than members of the Florida bar who either directly or indirectly recruit college athletes must register with the state as sports agents or face possible felony charges—and the two Beys, Cebrun, Endicott, Pagan and Williams aren't registered or licensed to practice law in the state.
Everybody emerges from this affair with a black eye—the school, the players, the coaches, the agents and, once again, college sports, in which such unsavory conduct is all too common.
Florida State can find solace only in the fact that the player who was Cebrun's and Bey's No. 1 target, Charlie Ward, resisted their blandishments. "They came knocking on my door, but I didn't deal with any of them," Ward told SI last week. Of his teammates who have been implicated in the scandal, Ward said sadly, "Evidently a lot of these guys have lied, and it's coming out. They knew what they were getting into. People should be responsible for all their actions. In the end, the truth always comes out."
Sawyer (hatless, with unidentified celebrant) was jubilant after the Seminoles' Orange Bowl win and unapologetic about the Foot Locker buying binge.
[See caption above.]
BEN VAN HOOK
Williams (far left) says Cebrun told him to work the dorm and see to the needs of Jackson (right) and other players.
Bowden says the guilty should be punished, but he has no intention of surrendering the national title.
Cebrun told the Seminoles he had ties to Endicott (in red) and the tantalizingly rich Johnson (left).
BEN VAN HOOK
In January, Lockhart took her information to Eason, who did not take her seriously enough.
BEN VAN HOOK
Sawyer reasons that his hard work at Florida State entitled him to the loot he accepted.
"They wanted the players to he my main concern. They wanted me to baby-sit them 24 hours a day. The players would come to me for cash"
"What do you expect us to do? We can't put security guards in the bushes at Reynolds Hall."
"At the urging of Bey and Cebrun, Endicott came to Tallahassee and gave his pitch to the players."
"Cebrun asked Lockhart if she knew anyone who was acquainted with some of the Seminoles."
"He pulled a $100 bill out of his handed it to me. I balled it up and put it in my hand."