THE SMU FACULTY SAYS ENOUGH IS ENOUGH
Something remarkable happened at SMU last week. An angry faculty finally quit looking the other way while the Mustangs' recidivist football program made a mockery of the university's reputation. Rent-free apartments, cash payments—they had heard this kind of thing before. So, fed up at long last, more than 200 of the school's senior faculty members signed a petition that pleaded for the "immediate, unconditional and permanent abolition of quasi-professional athletics" at SMU. They wanted a return to true amateur sports—an unprecedented, even heretical demand in the football-mad Southwest Conference.
"It was almost a heroic act," said David Hausman, associate professor of philosophy. "We have been saying 'enough is enough' to ourselves, but we haven't said it out loud." Said Virgil Howard, a theology professor, "Anything short of abolishing the football program is probably not going to get the job done." Similar sentiments were expressed in letters to The Dallas Morning News: "If SMU is allowed to continue its dishonest, corrupt football program...then it is obvious that the players are not the only ones who can be bought." One professor said he would like to see SMU's football program patterned after that of, gulp, Rice.
Such extreme reactions were warranted. Collectively the Southwest Conference football programs have been the most investigated, penalized and corrupt in the country, and SMU's has been the worst offender of all. In August 1985, after a 29-month investigation that documented 36 violations, the NCAA placed the program on three years' probation, the sixth time the school has been so punished. In 11 of the last 15 years SMU has been found guilty of NCAA rules infractions. The biggest punishment could be forthcoming: The NCAA may move to shut down the football program for two years by invoking the "death penalty." This measure, voted in by member schools last year, stipulates that any institution found guilty of major rule infractions twice within a five-year period can be barred from competition in the second sport cited. A new set of allegations against SMU could, if proved, qualify SMU for such capital punishment. These charges, which have been big news in Dallas for two weeks, concern a rent-free apartment allegedly provided to Mustang tight end Albert Reese by an SMU booster, and money said to have been paid to former linebacker David Stanley by one former and one present SMU athletic official (SCORECARD, Nov. 24).
In a stunning 40-minute report by Dallas's WFAA-TV, SMU recruiting coordinator Henry Lee Parker was shown an envelope that, according to Stanley, had contained one of the $350 monthly cash payments he said were sent to his mother from September 1983 through December 1985. The envelope bore the handwritten initials HLP in the top left corner.
"That is mine," Parker said on camera upon first examining the envelope. Then he said, "No, this is printed.... I don't write that way."
The TV station produced a handwriting analyst who said that she believed the writing on the envelope was Parker's. Then Stanley and his mother were shown taking and passing polygraph examinations. Former SMU academic advisor Teresa Hawthorne said on the show that SMU athletic director Bob Hitch had told her Stanley was "a bought player."
Parker could not be reached by SI for comment. In interviews with SI, Hitch would not respond directly to any specific allegations, saying he would reserve comment until an impending NCAA investigation is completed.
As for Reese, who was suspended for SMU's season-ending game last Saturday against Arkansas: He says he will prove to the NCAA that his apartment deal was legitimate. "I'm paying rent," he says.
Last week SMU's president, L. Donald Shields, promised an internal investigation of the latest charges. Then he announced he was taking early retirement because of a health condition exacerbated, at least in part, by the athletic department's difficulties. Meanwhile, the SMU Board of Governors was to meet this week to consider the faculty's demand for drastic action.
SMU, hurt by recruiting limits resulting from the current NCAA probation, ended its '86 season with a 6-5 record. The Mustangs lost the finale to Arkansas 41-0, their worst defeat against an SWC foe in 22 years.
BASKETBALL'S FOREIGN LEGION
When college basketball teams hunger for a preseason opponent that won't fill them up—that is, won't count against their NCAA limit of 28 regular-season games—they generally order up something foreign. And so it was that over the past two weeks at least 32 club, school or national teams from 16 foreign lands made exhibition tours of the U.S.
A number of visiting teams were jet-lagged and culture-shocked. An Australian team was good-naturedly hooted and hissed at during a game against Florida International by arm-waving fans with painted faces. The Aussies liked that part. "The thing that really bugs us over here is a lot of people think we're from England," said coach Brian Kerle.
Yugoslavian teams, bewildered by some NCAA rules, were called time and again for fouls, goaltending and improper substitutions. The Sibenik Club team finally threw in the towel against Cleveland State after all but one of its players had fouled out. The Yugoslavs were listed last-names-first in game programs at Valparaiso. Throughout their tour they seemed most astonished by the revelation that U.S. college coaches actually get paid to dress their teams in certain brands of sneakers.
A Hungarian team wore itself out at Disneyland, then was pummeled by Loyola Marymount of Los Angeles. Worse, Loyola couldn't get it together for a national-anthems ceremony. At the University of Arizona the Tucson boys' chorus sang the Soviet national anthem a cappella; their performance so touched the Soviet players that some seemed on the verge of tears.
The coach of a Mexican women's team repaid his Indiana University hosts by serenading the Hoosier players with a song in Spanish over dinner at a local Kentucky Fried Chicken. Miami coach Bill Foster, meanwhile, sang a recruiter's song to 6'9" Australian center Paul Webb. Webb, 17, told Foster he would let him know by Dec. 1 whether or not he'll enroll as a freshman this year—and thus be available to play against the Aussies next November.
Sixteen teams qualified for the NCAA Division III football playoffs that began last Saturday, and three of them shared a nickname. The Flying Dutchmen of Hofstra, Central College of Iowa and Hope College, in the suitably named city of Holland. Mich., all qualified. The just-plain Dutchmen of Union College—which is, like Hofstra, in Dutch-flavored New York State—were also in the draw. Pity poor Lebanon Valley College in Pennsylvania Dutch country, whose team finished 2-8. It was the only squad of Flying Dutchmen in Division III not to make the tournament. Only the Dutchmen of CCI flew into the quarterfinals, beating Iowa rival Buena Vista 37-0.
DANA KIRK (CONT.)
Last Thursday former Memphis State basketball coach Dana Kirk, unbowed but about to be indicted, arrived at the Federal Building in downtown Memphis with his lawyer. Inside, a federal grand jury charged Kirk, who had been fired as coach in September, with obstruction of justice, mail fraud, income tax evasion and filing false tax returns. The indictment accused Kirk of "scheming to defraud MSU" by soliciting $2,000 to have the Tigers play in a 1982 tournament in New Orleans and another $10,000 to give interviews during a 1983 tournament in Los Angeles. He was also charged with failing to report more than $160,000 in income on his 1982 and '83 tax returns. Further, according to the indictment, Kirk had intimidated "or attempted to intimidate persons with the intent to influence their testimony before the federal grand jury."
Eleven counts were read, and if convicted on all of them Kirk, 51, could face up to 62 years in prison and fines of as much as $912,000. Although the grand jury had looked into Kirk's associations with gamblers and the possibility of point-shaving at MSU (SI, June 24, 1985, et seq.), no gambling charges were filed. "Based on what we have determined, there is no evidence of any point-shaving or any game-fixing," said U.S. Attorney Hickman Ewing Jr. But on another serious matter—obstruction of justice—Kirk is alleged to have told Memphis State booster Ira Lichterman not to answer the grand jury's questions, or to lie to the grand jury if asked about buying basketball tickets from Kirk. According to the indictment, Lichterman replied that he would not lie, and Kirk told the Memphis businessman he would make him "look like a fool in front of all his friends and the [boosters] club."
A source close to the grand jury said Lichterman's testimony was a key to some of the charges in the indictment. "He was a surprise," the source said. "He was not an easy one to find. You don't find people like that very often."
Pope John Paul II is scheduled to say Mass before more than 70,000 people in Arizona State's football stadium during his 1987 swing through the U.S. Thomas J. O'Brien, bishop of Phoenix, was concerned about a possibly embarrassing situation. Would the pontiff take offense at the "Devil" in Sun Devil Stadium? The bishop's solution: "We're going to baptise the stadium before the Mass."
THE SHOE FITS
Last week the U.S. Baseball Federation presented pitcher Mike Loynd, who won 20 for Florida State before joining the Texas Rangers this year, with the 1986 Golden Spikes Award. The trophy, honoring the amateur player of the year, features a pair of gold-plated baseball shoes. It's a fitting tribute: Mike's dad. Richard, is chairman of Converse Inc.
THEY SAID IT
•Jim Finks, New Orleans Saints G.M., when asked after a loss what he thought of the refs: "I'm not allowed to comment on lousy officiating."
•Gary Williams, Ohio State basketball coach, after an open tryout to fill out his roster: "The first thing I did was cut all the guys who wore black socks."