The outrage people feel when college gambling fixes are exposed subsides with time; the initial shock dissipates; the residue tends to be a vague memory of some college kids getting into trouble because they listened to the siren song of a couple of tinhorn gamblers. The fixes are pimples on the face of sport; ugly, but they go away. Rick Kuhn, the Boston College backup center who was sentenced to 10 years in prison (later reduced to four; he hopes to be paroled in December) for his part in a point-shaving scandal, was asked last week in New York City at a gambling hearing of the President's Commission on Organized Crime if he felt his stern sentence had been a deterrent to others. "No, sir," answered Kuhn. "I don't think it's had a negative effect. I think people have become sympathetic toward me. They forget I committed a serious crime."
Kuhn also gave evidence that his bribers were more than jolly Guys and Dolls tinhorns, recalling a remark fixer Henry Hill made when Kuhn seemed uncooperative. "He told me I couldn't play with a broken arm," Kuhn said. "That's when I knew I was in over my head."
It's been suggested that big-time gambling, with whatever connections such gambling might have with organized crime, is involved with basketball fixing. Gary Kranz, a Tulane undergraduate arrested in the point-shaving fix there last winter and who has been charged with 22 counts involving sports bribery and cocaine, allegedly set up the fix with fellow undergraduate Mark Olensky, who pleaded guilty last week, in a plea-bargaining deal, to two counts of conspiracy. Olensky is the son of William Olensky, who runs a touting service in New Jersey. The senior Olensky, according to sources close to the investigation, took the Fifth Amendment after being subpoenaed in the Tulane case.
July 7, 1985
Edmundo Guevara, an FBI special agent and investigator with the President's Commission, says flatly that in every sports fix there is organized-crime involvement. Certainly, crime syndicates have ties with many neighborhood bookies. Illegal sports betting is said to rank second behind drug dealing as a source of mob revenue; it's an estimated $37- to $40-billion-a-year business.
Police sergeant Donald Herion of Chicago testified at the New York hearings that a bookie in Chicago named Hal Smith handled $140 million in bets annually (or roughly $400,000 a day); he took 2% to 3% of that handle for himself, or $3 million to $4 million a year (he had $600,000—probably "cash register" money—in a gym bag in his garage when the cops raided his place back in 1983). Herion said that a Chicago crime group known as the Outfit makes bookies pay a 50% "street tax" on their earnings. What happens if a bookie refuses to pay the street tax? "They usually give you three options," Herion said. "You can pay it, quit the business or die."
So far in 1985, three major Chicago bookies, including Hal Smith, have died, gangland-style.
Soccer rioting has flared up in China, of all places, and while there were no deaths or serious injuries in the rioting outside the stadium in Peking, Chinese authorities, possibly fearing a repetition of the Brussels tragedy (SI, June 10), came down hard on the miscreants. Liu Guofang, a 20-year-old tree planter at the Cemetery for Revolutionary Heroes in the Fragrant Hills, who "deliberately made trouble and hurled rocks and broke the side window of a passing truck," was sentenced to 2½ years in prison and fined 61 yuan ($22). A government worker named Hua Zeping, who "helped overturn a taxi," was given a two-year sentence and fined 200 yuan ($72). Two other men were each given four months for throwing things and kicking a policeman, while 120 others were held in police custody for up to three weeks and were publicly labeled "rabble-rousers" and "black sheep."
REDS SKY AT MORNING
It's obviously an omen: The National Hurricane Center will name two tropical storms Peter and Rose during the very season that Cincinnati's first baseman-manager is threatening to blow by Ty Cobb's career hits record.
The tentacles of bottom-line commercialism have long extended into college sports, and sometimes they get a little weird. At the University of Kentucky a mild controversy bubbled up when new basketball coach Eddie Sutton, late of Arkansas, signed a contract with Nike to have that company provide sneakers for the Wildcats next season. (Shoe companies supply shoes and pay handsomely for the assurance that every player on a squad will wear their brand.) In so doing, Sutton broke a long-standing Kentucky relationship with Converse shoes, dating back to the days of Adolph Rupp, the legendary Baron of Wildcat basketball.
Sutton, a Nike man for nine seasons, says he agonized over the decision. "I was between a rock and a hard place," he says. Sutton had to weigh "tradition," six-figure offers from both Nike and Converse, as well as Puma, and the fact that senior guard Roger Harden's father, Al, is a regional rep for Converse—before deciding to go with Nike. However, to assuage criticism, Sutton and Nike worked out a compromise that Solomon would have put in his playbook. While everyone else on the team will wear Nikes next season, young Harden will be allowed to go right on wearing the Converse shoes his daddy sells.
HEAR YE, HEAR YE
The world of fun and games spends a lot of time in courts of law. A late report:
•In Pennsylvania, a wrestling promoter is suing one of his stars for violating his contract as a "wrestling entertainer," saying the wrestler won his matches too quickly and didn't follow orders. The suit appears to be directed at the Pennsylvania Athletic Commission, which technically supervises professional wrestling and, more to the point, takes 5% of all its gates. If the promoter wins his suit, the thinking goes, it would mean the state recognizes and accepts that some wrestling matches are rehearsed. Wrestling could then be construed as a show more than a sport, and that would mean an athletic commission should not have the right to siphon off 5%.
•In Texas, souvenir makers who sell T shirts and other objects bearing Texas Aggie slogans and logos were told by the state supreme court that they must pay for the privilege. GIG 'EM AGGIES and OLD SARGE and other such belong to Texas A & M, the court held.
•In Canada, boxing promoter Regis Levesque was haled into court for trying to stage a fight (all right, a spectacle) between 41-year-old Joe Frazier, ex-world heavyweight champion, and 47-year-old Robert Cleroux, ex-Canadian champion. The charge was "advising, encouraging or promoting" a prizefight without authorization. (Unrepentant, Levesque says he'll hold the fight on a jumbo jet if he can't get sanction down below.)
•In England, a High Court judge ruled against James Flood of Belfast, who after apparently winning a duel with an Arab for a yearling being auctioned at the Tattersalls sales by bidding 430,000 guineas (then worth $677,000) denied making the bid and left. When the horse was auctioned again two days later, the Arab bidder got it for only 200,000 guineas. Flood was ordered to pony up the 230,000-guinea difference to the owner who had put the horse up for sale.
•And, in Nevada, three prison inmates filed a $25,000 civil suit against the Carson City Softball Association because it wouldn't let the prison team play in its slow-pitch softball league.
BIG NEWS FROM MILFORD: COACH THORP WEDS
Gil Thorp, the comic-strip football, basketball and baseball coach of Milford High, is at last going to the altar after 27 years of forthright, incredibly decent living. The bride is gym teacher Emily (Mimi) Clover, seven years younger than Gil's perpetual 35. She will walk down the aisle, in newspaper black and white, on Wednesday, July 10.
Cartoonist Jack Berrill says the marriage is an attempt to give his creation more personality and his readers a chance to know the coach a little better. "Gil's been the central character through the years," says Berrill, "but he's not exactly Mr. Excitement."
Berrill also admits that Gil has had a "questionable libido" through the decades, and that the strip has had a lot more locker room than bedroom. Not counting an occasional single mother on the make (Mrs. Chalmers, for example, a few years back), Gil has dated no one but Mimi, except for Holly Dobbs, also a Mil-ford High teacher, who gave him the brush back in 1970.
"Holly just about broke Gil's heart when she dumped him," says Berrill, not sounding too sympathetic. "With Mimi he conducted a very careful courtship. You might say he's a real slow mover." Mimi had appeared in the strip for years, but it took until this past April for Gil to pop the question. And only then because he thought he was losing out to rival Bob Sellar.
"It's going to be a happy marriage," Berrill predicts, "with children, eventually. It will be good for Gil to get a woman's perspective and have someone to discuss his students' problems with. There'll be a lot more pillow talk, and for Gil, some consciousness-raising."
Gil's first taste of feminine emancipation will come when Mimi asks him to cook a fish she catches during a fishing trip on their honeymoon at lovely Sea Island, a fictional retreat off the coast of New England. The couple spends a happy week on Sea Island, while in their absence Milford High simmers with new conflicts.
And what of Holly Dobbs? The last anyone read of her, she had married a producer in Hollywood and was pursuing a career in show biz.
"I bet ol' Holly's divorced by now," says Berrill slyly. "Wouldn't it be just awful if she were ever to return to Milford? Hmmmm, could be trouble. . . ."
THEY SAID IT
•Johnny Bench, after shooting a double bogey, a triple bogey and a quintuple bogey in two rounds of play during the Cincinnati Metropolitan Amateur Golf Championship: "Gaylord Perry had the only thing harder to hit than a golf ball."
•Greg Lustig, agent for Houston Gamblers quarterback Jim Kelly, on why, if the USFL folds, his client would be reluctant to sign with the Buffalo Bills, who hold NFL rights to Kelly: "Jim doesn't want to throw into a 35-mph wind for a team with no talent."