THE INTERSOUTH CONNECTION
Three months ago Triad Bank of Tulsa filed suit against Intersouth Sports Management Corporation, a defunct Tulsa sports agency firm, claiming that Inter-south had defaulted on a $125,000 loan. In papers filed in Tulsa County district court, the bank referred to alleged contracts signed last year between Intersouth and University of Oklahoma athletes and claimed that Intersouth had given or loaned money to those athletes—all in apparent violation of NCAA rules. Now, backing up those claims, two former Intersouth officials have told SI's Bill Brubaker that the firm had five Oklahoma football and basketball players under contract last year, and that payments were made to six players. One of the officials said that a former Oklahoma assistant football coach had solicited money for several players and had arranged for the official to represent three of them.
According to Tulsa businessman Larry T Johnson, who was Intersouth's president, loans were made by the firm to wide receiver George (Buster) Rhymes ($14,232), quarterback Danny Bradley ($3,600), running back Alvin Ross ($14,880) and basketball player Shawn Clark ($1,070). Johnson also said that $7,000 in loans and payments were made to basketball players Wayman Tisdale and Tisdale's brother, William. Clark is still at Oklahoma, but the others have used up their athletic eligibility with the Sooners.
Johnson said that Intersouth felt that in order to be competitive with other sports agencies, it needed to lend money to selected college athletes. Johnson said, however, that despite the payments allegedly made to Wayman Tisdale, Tisdale selected another agent this spring to negotiate his Indiana Pacers contract. Johnson said he then contacted Tisdale and told him, "Just pay me the money that you owe me, and we'll let it go." Johnson said he had not been repaid.
October 28, 1985
Johnson detailed loans he said were made to Rhymes for everything from a "signing consideration" ($3,100) to "apartment and furniture rent" ($600) and "car repair" ($180). He said that the Tisdale brothers had received $1,700 in cash and $1,300 in checks, two watches worth $200 each, meals and hotel rooms during a trip to Dallas for last year's Texas-Oklahoma football game and transportation home from that game on a private plane. He said that Wayman, whose nickname is Moose, also received a $3,150 gold-and-diamond pendant in the shape of a moose head.
Johnson said that all the athletes who dealt with Intersouth were aware of "the risks included for the schools and for themselves.... Believe me, all these players know that when they take money, there's a possibility they may be booted off the team."
Brent Barnes, who preceded Johnson as Intersouth's president and who is now unemployed, told Brubaker that Rhymes and other Sooners had entered into written contracts with him. Barnes said that in the summer of '84 he was approached by former Oklahoma assistant football coach Wendell Mosley, who "told me that three Oklahoma players—Buster, Danny and Keith [former Sooner strong safety Keith Stanberry]—already had signed contracts with another agent and they needed some money to get out of those contracts. I arranged a loan. Then Wendell brought me contracts and made me their agent."
Rhymes, who missed two Minnesota Vikings practices last week and was being evaluated for drug use, denied through his current agent, Ron Maniloff, that he had signed a contract with Intersouth. Maniloff also said, "Buster's not an accountant, but he's making a determination on the validity of the amounts and whether any funds were considered loans or gifts. If he owes any money, he will repay it."
Ross, Bradley and Stanberry have denied that they signed contracts with or borrowed money from Intersouth. Clark did not respond to a request for an interview. The Tisdales refused to comment. Mosley, who has left coaching and now is a schoolteacher in Miami, said he never mentioned money to anyone and that Barnes's description of the arrangement was "inaccurate.... Barnes approached me." Mosley said he was asked to "help in recruiting some athletes for an agent group. I decided to try to help them. I spoke to those players you mentioned and asked if they'd be interested in an agent."
The University of Oklahoma opened a probe after the athletes' names surfaced in the bank's lawsuit. Within the week, Oklahoma president Frank E. Horton is expected to report the school's findings—including handwriting analyses of the athletes' signatures, taken to determine if the signatures on the contracts are forgeries—to the Big Eight Conference. If violations of NCAA rules are proved, Oklahoma may forfeit last year's conference championships in football and basketball.
Not since 1973, when David Bedford ran 10,000 meters in 27:30.80 in London, has a Briton set a world track and field record on British soil. The world marks of Sebastian Coe, David Moorcroft, Steve Ovett, Daley Thompson and Steve Cram were all established on the road. A 12-year wait is too long for the folks at Mumm's Champagne, so they're offering a ¬£50,000 prize (approximately $70,000) for the next world track record set by a British athlete at home.
An improbable candidate for the purse is Mary Slaney, who was known as America's Sweetheart when she was Mary Decker. Improbable, unless you listen to her husband, Richard, an Englishman. Claiming that "being married to me makes Mary more British than Zola Budd," he says that, in order to qualify his wife for the award, he may add her name to his passport.
"As I understand it, the ¬£50,000 can be won by anyone with a British passport," says a spokesman for Mumm's. But as the U.S. State Department understands it, Mary could be jeopardizing her American citizenship if she goes along with the scheme. The question is moot for the time being. The Slaneys are expecting their first child in late spring, so until then Mary may have to forget Mumm's and prepare to become a mum.
Eyebrows were raised when it was announced last week that Richard Nixon would serve as arbitrator in the dispute between baseball's owners and umpires. Nixon's selection headed off a walkout by the umps, who feel they're entitled to extra money now that the league playoff series have been expanded from a best-of-five to a best-of-seven format. They said they wouldn't strike if an arbitrator were named and if the issue were resolved by the end of the World Series. Nixon talked with representatives of both sides last week and said they were "not that far apart."
Nixon's involvement is not as surprising as it seems. In the mid-'60s he might have become general counsel to the Players Association if his appointment hadn't been vetoed by then executive director Marvin Miller. His name has often come up when baseball people have discussed candidates for commissioner. And the former President has connections in baseball's high places: Yankees principal owner George Steinbrenner is a friend, as are Angels owner Gene Autry and Umpires Association chief Richie Phillips.
In fact, Phillips is a Pennsylvania neighbor of Nixon's daughter Julie and her husband, David Eisenhower. He has spent hours discussing baseball with the former President. On Oct. 10 Phillips called the Eisenhowers and asked Julie to find out if her father would be interested in arbitrating. The following day, Nixon told Phillips he would be willing to serve if selected. According to American League president Bobby Brown, the possibility that Nixon's Watergate history might pose image problems for baseball was an "ancillary issue" that was never even discussed. He was approved as arbitrator by both sides over several others who were also considered, including former commissioner Bowie Kuhn (opposed by Phillips because he's working for a law firm that represents the National League), and former NBA commissioner Larry O'Brien.
Besides being friendly with Phillips and management types alike, Nixon is at home with the rank and file in this dispute. He entertained umpires at his San Clemente home on occasion and is said to know their individual styles and to have personal favorites. "When he was President, he used to come into the umpires' room all the time at RFK Stadium in Washington," says American League ump Don Denkinger. "In fact, he kept his red phone in there."
A recent item in this space reported that Bridgette Farris, a placekicker for Hoover High in Fresno, Calif., was believed to be the first girl ever to score a point in a high school varsity football game (SCORECARD, Oct. 7). Since then, two other claimants to that distinction have been called to our attention. Three years ago Beth Bates, a junior at Williamsburg High in Kentucky, kicked five extra points; the following year she kicked a PAT and a field goal. Although Bridgette and Beth's modern football feminism is laudable, they both owe a tip of the helmet to a high school heroine who played nearly half a century ago. In 1939 Luverne Wise kicked six extra points for Escambia County High in At-more, Ala., and completed a pass for another conversion. The records for the next season aren't available, but old-timers in Atmore remember that Toad Wise—so called because she toed the ball each weekend—was just as effective in '40, making good on about 75% of her attempts. Escambia County was 17-1 during the two seasons Wise kicked for the team. A girl gridder was such a novelty back then that Life magazine, the New York Daily Mirror and Columbia Pictures all visited Atmore to report on Wise. Before her death two years ago she reminisced, "I'm not a women's libber, but those were two of the best years of my life."
THEY SAID IT
•Spike Dykes, Texas Tech defensive coordinator, on 5'2" wide receiver Tyrone (Smurf) Thurman: "We try for four years to teach players to stay low. Tyrone's already there."
•Frank Layden, Utah Jazz coach, on assistant coach Scott Layden: "I didn't hire Scott because he's my son. I hired him because I'm married to his mother."
•Joe Gilmartin, Phoenix Gazette sports editor, on the All-Missouri World Series: "Until now. the only sport associated with I-70 was bingo."