A COACH'S TERRIBLY WRONG DECISION
One day in May 1984, Don Silveri, the basketball coach at Erie Community College in Buffalo, stood in the office of the school registrar. Before him lay a stack of papers—his players' grade sheets. Moments earlier, a worker in the registrar's office had taken the papers from a file, handed them to Silveri and said he was leaving. "At that point," said Silveri, "I knew I had full access to the registrar's office in the future. It was like putting a stack of $50 bills in front of me, leaving me alone to see if I'd take them."
Silveri took just about everything he could. With a pencil, he doctored the grades of several players. "I could have changed everybody's grade at the time, but I didn't," he says. "If a kid needed a grade to graduate, or if I felt he had a chance to succeed with a passing grade, I helped him out." He says he didn't tell his players about this. "In case I got caught, I didn't want them to be part of it."
He got caught. An English professor at ECC became suspicious when one of Silveri's players was unable to do remedial work. The professor investigated the player's past performance in class and found he had failed a course he was credited with passing. ECC officials confronted Silveri on Oct. 15. He confessed to tampering with "10 to 15" players' grades, and resigned the next day.
November 3, 1986
Silveri claims he was trying to help his players, many of whom are inner city blacks, by giving them a chance to stay in school while they played basketball. "Maybe, just maybe, it was a terribly wrong decision for terribly right reasons," he says. "All I thought about was helping the kids."
Silveri is getting little sympathy from ECC, the NCAA and local law enforcement agencies. "Who is he trying to kid?" asks ECC athletic director Ralph Galanti Jr. "They had to help themselves by going to class." Galanti has already forfeited last season's 33 wins, and there may be more defaults forthcoming. "If a grade was changed, that could affect a player's eligibility," says Chuck Smrt, NCAA assistant director of enforcement. He says that games won with ineligible players—including games involving Division I schools to which the players transferred—might have to be forfeited. Beyond this, Erie County district attorney Richard J. Arcara has been contacted by ECC, and Silveri may yet face criminal charges for falsifying documents.
HOLY MACKEREL! IT SLIPPED!
The Arthur Smith King Mackerel Tournament is the biggest and richest fishing contest in the world. It was held recently along a 70-mile stretch of the South Carolina coast and featured 1,244 boats carrying 6,212 ardent anglers competing for $540,000 in prizes. One of the contestants—the unluckiest of them all, as it turned out—was Fred Holland of Carolina Beach, N.C.
Holland landed a king mackerel that must have weighed upward of 30 pounds, certainly large enough to win him some kind of a prize—if not first ($60,000), then maybe fourth ($22,000). As he was making his way to the scales for the official weigh-in, Holland paused to pose for pictures, and suddenly the dead fish slipped from his grasp. As Holland watched in horror, it splashed into the water beside the dock and sank like an anvil. Everyone gazed into the deep, but there was no fish to be seen. "Dead fish usually float, don't they?" asked Arthur Smith, the entertainer and sportsman from Charlotte for whom the tournament is named.
Holland, in a frenzy, strode up and down the pier peering into the water for a long time. But the Intercoastal Waterway was dark, and the current was swift. He hired a frogman, but the diver came up empty-handed. As Eric Adams of Marion, N.C, took home the grand prize with a 46.88-pound mackerel, Holland was left without a cent, muttering, "You should have seen the one...."
A WORLD CHAMP AT LAST
Bruce Baumgartner, the wrestler from Edinboro, Pa. (SI, Oct. 20), has won the world championship that long eluded him. Last week in Budapest the 6'2", 270-pound Baumgartner outpointed the reigning world champ, David Gobedjichvili of the U.S.S.R., 6-2. Thus Baumgartner ended Soviet domination of the superheavyweight world championship that extended back to 1974. "He is a very unusual person," said Bill Martell, the U.S. team leader. "He doesn't drink, doesn't smoke, doesn't chase around. He's a hard worker and never misses practice. All those things your mother said you are supposed to do—Bruce does them."
MIXED REVIEWS FOR THIS FILM
The NFL isn't the only football league running into controversy over the official use of instant replays. At a recent game between the St. Francis (Kans.) High Indians and the Scott City High Beavers, referees went to the videotape when a dispute arose with less than four minutes to play.
The Indians were leading 20-12 and were trying to stop a Beavers' drive. On a fourth-and-two play at the St. Francis 22, there was a fumble, apparently recovered by the Indians. As two officials moved the first-down stakes, Scott City coaches argued that the fumble occurred after play was stopped. Whose ball should it be? And just where, on the muddy and torn-up field, should the ball be spotted?
As St. Francis's homecoming crowd waited in a driving rain, referee Dick Evans repaired to the press box with the opposing head coaches to view game tapes of the action. "It was a pretty wild and hectic scene up there," says Steve Jenkins, St. Francis's defensive coordinator. "It went on for 20 minutes." Finally Evans ruled that the fumble recovery would stand. St. Francis held on to win. And the Beavers went back to Scott City unsatisfied and unconvinced. Just like in the big leagues.
PROMOTERS AND PROS
At the 20th congress of the General Association of International Sports Federations in Monte Carlo last week, there was a lot of talk about commercializing sports. Not how to avoid commercialization; rather, how even small sports can cash in on a commercialized world. Coca-Cola's sports liaison addressed the gathering and so did the man from Gillette. Representatives from television spoke, too. They gave the delegates gloomy news about big U.S. network contracts ("We have a full-fledged depression") but offered rosy predictions about TV sports in Europe ("In a few years we are going to have five hours of sports a day"). Jan Steler, head of the International Luge Federation, said, "The conclusion is always the same for any sport, big or small: Without TV, you don't have anything."
The discussion turned to athletic eligibility. Willi Daume, president of the International Olympic Committee's eligibility committee, reported that disputes within the IOC had been largely resolved. Professionals would be allowed to compete in future Olympics—some in '88, more by '92—in equestrian events, soccer, ice hockey and tennis (SCORECARD, Oct. 6). In concluding his remarks, Daume recalled the late head of the IOC, Avery Brundage, who always decried commercialism and boosted amateurism. "If he could see this session," said Daume, "he would whirl in his grave like an electric fan."
BALLS HOUNDED, THEN HOARDED
Wally Edwards enjoyed a strange recreation: He would train his dogs to sniff out golf balls on the fringes of a course near his home in Limpsfield, 22 miles south of London. Wally, who lived to be 82, kept this up for a good long time. When he died recently, his descendants were astonished at their bizarre inheritance. Six thousand golf balls were found littered about the Edwards estate. "They were in cupboards, they were in the shed—we couldn't believe how many there were," says Edwards's daughter-in-law, Frankie. "He hoarded them and loved them dearly." Wally's wife, Alice, loved them less. "Every day he'd come back with his pockets full of golf balls," she remembers. "I got sick of them." Alice is getting relief. Frankie and her husband, John Edwards, have been busily evacuating the balls to their home in southwestern England.
FOR A RINK AS BIG AS THE RITZ
Hey! Pretty big hockey stick, eh? Paul Bunyan musta been a player, eh?
No, this blade was never wielded by the legendary lumberman. The 203-foot-high construction was erected especially for Expo '86, the fair that closed recently in Vancouver. As an asset of the federally owned Canadian Pavilion, the stick becomes a ward of the Canadian Museum of Civilization. Not surprisingly, the museum has no use for the mammoth blade or for the gargantuan puck that accompanies it. So the museum decided to hold a yard sale and the buyer had better have a really big yard. Prospective purchasers include several communities throughout Canada that would like to install the stick and puck as permanent landmarks. "They may not go to the highest bidder," says Dave Buckner, the museum's project officer. "It depends on how they intend to display the stick and how it will be maintained." Three British Columbian towns—Penticton, Duncan and Trail—are known to covet the oversized equipment. Duncan, a community of 4,228 on Vancouver Island, would like to use it to decorate the training camp of the Vancouver Canucks, while Penticton and Trail would like to have it to commemorate amateur world championships won by local teams long ago. The lucky bidder will have to pay dismantling and shipping charges—estimated at $25,000—in addition to the purchase price. The deadline for bidding is Nov. 10, and the museum will announce the big winner two weeks later.
THEY SAID IT
•Tom Watson, after being disqualified in last week's PGA tournament for changing putters in the middle of a rain-delayed round: "My IQ must be two points lower than a plant's."
•Paul Evans, Pitt basketball coach, when informed that his Panthers had made some preseason Top 20 polls: "It only proves that sportswriters indulge in more drugs than athletes do."
•Lee Ming Chen, manager of the world champion Little League team from Taiwan and an interpreter of Yogi-isms: "The game is not over until the sixth inning is over."