LAST YEAR, afterformer Toledo running back Harvey (Scooter) McDougle was charged withattempting to fix Rockets football and basketball games from 2003 to '06, UTpresident Lloyd Jacobs and Ohio attorney general Marc Dann appointed a specialcounsel to interview all Toledo football and basketball players. It was anattempt to increase control over an athletic department possibly rife withcorruption. Smart move: Last week federal prosecutors in Detroit chargedex--Rockets point guard Sammy Villegas with taking bribes to shave points inthe 2004--05 and 2005--06 seasons. If convicted, Villegas, 25, who now playsprofessionally in the Dominican Republic, faces up to five years in prison.
Prosecutors sayVillegas met with or talked by phone to an unnamed conspirator 10 times in 2005and '06 and that on Feb. 4, 2006, he intentionally missed free throws in a16-point win over Central Michigan. (Toledo was a 15 1/2-point favorite.) Thealleged scheme dovetailed with a senior slump in which Villegas, who averaged13.8 points as a sophomore, averaged only six points.
Villegas's playraised eyebrows even then. In January 2006 UT coach Stan Joplin told The ToledoBlade, "I just can't explain what has happened to Sammy." And R.J.Bell, of the betting website Pregame, says people in Las Vegas sensed somethingfishy: "I was getting two or three sources telling me to look out forToledo on a given night."
Villegas's agentsays his client is cooperating with authorities but wouldn't speak toreporters. Prosecutors did not set a trial date but did specify a sentencingdate of Nov. 18, an indication that Villegas may be close to a plea deal. A UTspokesman insists McDougle and Villegas were "isolated" cases. (Thecharges against McDougle were dropped, but authorities say an investigation isongoing.) "We did a pretty intensive review of the culture and ethos of ourprogram a year ago," the spokesman says, "and we have completeconfidence."
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ANDY MORRISON/THE BLADE (VILLEGAS)
TANK BATTLE Villegas (right) allegedly shaved points as a junior and senior.
TONY DUFFY/GETTY IMAGES (FLO-JO)
MATT A. BROWN/ICON SMI (RAMIREZ)
ALEX CAO/GETTY IMAGES (PILLOWS)
CHRIS PIZZELLO/AP (JONAS BROTHERS)
ETHAN MILLER/GETTY IMAGES (WILLIAMS)
FRED VUICH (INKSTER)
KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT/US PRESSWIRE (HOUSHMANDZADEH)
RICH KANE/ICON SMI (GONZALEZ)