At 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 5, two SI reporters had just finished a round of interviews in Tallahassee with Florida State athletic director Bob Goin, football coach Bobby Bowden and other athletic department officials. The reporters' questions indicated that they had evidence that some players on last season's national championship team had broken NCAA rules by accepting cash and clothing from bird dogs trying to recruit them for agents (SI, May 16). After the reporters left campus, Goin quickly convened a meeting of Florida State officials. One of the first things they agreed to do: Call Mike Glazier.
This is an article from the May 23, 1994 issue
Over the last eight years almost everybody who is anybody in college sports cheating—as well as those schools that merely wanted to make sure they were following NCAA rules—has called Glazier. His client list includes Arizona State, Miami, Michigan State, Missouri, Oklahoma State, Pitt, South Carolina, Syracuse, Texas A&M and Washington, some 50 colleges in all.
By Friday afternoon, Glazier, a lawyer in Overland Park, Kans., was saddled up and riding to Florida State's rescue. At 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Glazier and an associate, Rick Evrard, were huddled with Florida State officials in an athletic-department conference room. Glazier and Evrard found themselves in the company of a somber group. The main thing Glazier wanted to know was whether Florida State was willing to have the whole truth emerge. The officials promised him they were.
Just how important was Glazier to Florida State? Nobody even asked him how much his investigation was going to cost.
Though Glazier won't divulge figures, other sources indicate that the schools that have retained his services have paid him and his law firm some whopping fees—a total of $1 million in three cases for Oklahoma State. Most schools are glad to pay, so anxious are they to minimize NCAA sanctions that might jeopardize the huge revenues they derive from their athletic programs.
Nevertheless, there are yawning differences of opinion about Glazier. "My admiration and respect for him are ever increasing," says Kansas State athletic director Max Urick, who worked with Glazier eight years ago when Urick was AD at Iowa State and the Cyclone football team was placed on two-year NCAA probation for recruiting violations. "He was very thorough, he worked for what was right, he was ethical, and he always worked toward full disclosure."
But former Pitt football coach Mike Gottfried, now an ESPN analyst, says, "Glazier does a horrible job. If Glazier says it, then the NCAA concludes it happened. Nobody oversees him. He's like a bounty hunter." Steve Beckett, lawyer for former Illinois basketball star Deon Thomas, agrees with Gottfried. Though they were never proved, allegations that Thomas had been offered improper inducements when he was being recruited by Illinois led the school to hire Glazier in 1990. "Glazier sells coaches down the river to make schools look good," Beckett says. "If your school wants to work within the good-ol'-boy system and doesn't care about its coaches and players, hire him."
One reason colleges hire Glazier is because of his cozy relationship with the NCAA, where he worked for seven years as an investigator. His ninth-floor office in Overland Park commands a view of NCAA headquarters half a mile away. He used to play lunch-hour basketball with NCAA enforcement chief David Berst, and they still play golf together. Chuck Smrt, an NCAA enforcement director, was Glazier's roommate for a year when both were undergraduates at Indiana, and Glazier's former partner, Mike Slive, is now the chairman of the NCAA infractions appeals committee. Smrt declined to discuss Glazier, and Slive had no comment on any possible conflict of interest. Berst insists that when it comes to investigations, Glazier is "just another person on the other side of the table."
Former Florida president Bob Bryan and Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim both found Glazier to be exceptionally useful in that capacity. "He was invaluable to us in the form of guidance he gave us in dealing with an intransigent, hidebound, tunnel-visioned NCAA staff," says Bryan, whose school—subsequently hit with two years of probation—had hired Glazier to investigate its football and basketball programs in 1989.
Syracuse hired Glazier after the Syracuse Post-Standard reported in 1990 that boosters had provided basketball players with money, meals and housing. The Orangemen got off with a light two-year probation, and Boeheim says of Glazier, "The NCAA believes what he says. That's what you've got to have on your side. That's what you pay for."
What you get for your money is an unconventional strategy: Glazier does not try to find ways to get his clients out of the muck; he seeks to keep them from sinking deeper into it. However, his detractors say that he's sometimes too quick to have schools admit to wrongdoing.
Glazier figures that if a school comes clean as soon as possible, the NCAA will be impressed by the institution's good faith and candor and, as a result, impose lighter penalties. The approach works, or at least some schools think it does and are grateful to Glazier. After all, a killer facing the death penalty will be forever indebted to a lawyer who gets him off with life in prison.
Glazier's investigation of the football program at Oklahoma State, in 1988, is typical of his approach. The Cowboys were eventually found guilty of more than 40 violations, and the NCAA noted that Oklahoma State football coaches had been "operating without regard for NCAA rules for most of the period since 1972."
Before taking the case, Glazier visited the Stillwater campus and, as always, made sure that he and the school were on the same wavelength. "If we are looking at A," he says, "and B pops up, they have to want to know about that, too. When the case is over, we want there to be a period, not a comma.
"First, I sat with the administration to get a clear understanding of the charges," says Glazier. "Then I tried to identify the primary sources for information and talk to them. In this case, [football player] Hart Lee Dykes was one of them. We want to know where the facts support the allegations and where they don't. If the allegations are true, we have a problem. If they are not true, our job is to get the NCAA to agree with us."
Glazier estimates that he's able to verify 50% of the accusations leveled by the media and NCAA investigators. "What I mean," Glazier says, "is that there is evidence in these cases to support the charges. On the other hand, just because there is no evidence doesn't mean they're not true."
Although the NCAA praised Oklahoma State for "the thoroughness of the investigation," the school was ordered in 1989 to give up five scholarships a year for three years and was barred from bowls for three years and from live TV for two. Yet several school officials sound pleased with the sentence. Football coach Pat Jones says, "I don't know how you put a price tag on him. I'd have hated to have [gone through the football investigation] without Mike Glazier." But is Glazier worth the price? "Well," says Jones, "I'm still here." Adds Oklahoma State president John Campbell, "Mike was thorough and meticulous, and he told us he was in town to get at the root of everything. In fact, he helped us uncover more problems than the NCAA had uncovered."
While Glazier can cite the Oklahoma State case as a success story, he can't say the same about the Illinois investigation. According to Beckett, Thomas's lawyer, Glazier and Slive recommended to Illinois in 1990 that the school admit to several supposed violations, including an allegation that in 1989 assistant coach Jimmy Collins offered Thomas $80,000 and a Chevrolet Blazer to attend the school. Instead, the university and Glazier and Slive parted ways, and the school asked Frank McGarr, a former federal district court judge, to run the investigation. "Glazier just felt he had completed all we had asked him to do, and we wanted to take it another step," says John Mackovic, who was then Illinois's athletic director and football coach and is now coach at Texas. Mackovic says that McGarr did not make "any appreciable changes" in the findings of Glazier and Slive, but major allegations involving Thomas were never proved.
"Had Slive and Glazier stayed on," says Beckett, "Deon Thomas [who completed his eligibility this year] wouldn't be the leading scorer in Illinois history and Jimmy Collins wouldn't [still] be the nation's leading recruiter out of Chicago. They'd both be gone, offered up to the NCAA gods. Then we would have gotten our penalty, and Slive and Glazier would have declared it a victory." Still, the NCAA did find Illinois guilty of some violations and a lack of institutional control, and it put the school on probation for three years, barring Collins from off-campus recruiting for two seasons.
Beckett voices a complaint shared by other Glazier detractors. "He takes a cookie-cutter approach," he says. "You fire the coach, get rid of the player, admit you did all these things but say you've got institutional control because you cleaned house, and beg for mercy from the NCAA. Then Glazier and his people get satisfied clients by convincing them they would have lost it all without them." For their parts Slive declines to comment on the Illinois case, and Glazier says that he had "very little involvement" in it.
Even when they end up bloodied, Glazier's clients often praise him. Last August, Washington's football program received some of the most severe penalties ever handed out by the Pac-10—a two-year ban on bowl games, a loss of 10 scholarships a year for two years and a loss of $1.4 million in TV revenue—after boosters were found to have given players meals and phony jobs. Furthermore, the NCAA recently added a year's ban from live TV and another year of probation to the Pac-10's penalties. For all that, Laurel Wilkining, who was provost at Washington when Glazier conducted his investigation, says, "I thought he was excellent."
The 41-year-old Glazier has been involved with football and coaches all his life. He was born in Neosho, Mo., and his dad, Bill, was a high school football coach. After moves to Aurora, Mo., and Mexico, Mo., the family landed in Kankakee, Ill., where Mike played for his father at East-ridge High. "He had to let me play because my mother called the shots," says Mike. "But I was tall, skinny and slow, and I maintained all three characteristics throughout my career." Mike went on to Northeastern Oklahoma Junior College in Miami, Okla., then was given a scholarship to Indiana. He was a sometime starter at quarterback for the Hoosiers as a junior in 1973 but spent much of his senior season on the bench.
The Kansas City Chiefs signed him to a free-agent contract in 1975, but he was cut in the preseason. "All I did was confirm Indiana's opinion of me," says Glazier, who went on to law school at John Marshall in Chicago, where he tried to figure out how to combine his interests in law and sports. This led him to work as an investigator for the NCAA (starting salary: $15,000 a year) between 1979 and '86.
While at the NCAA, he got to know Slive, also a lawyer and the assistant commissioner of the Pac-10 from 1979 to '81. The two concluded that cheating in sports would be fertile ground for a law practice. And indeed, since 1952 the NCAA has put 237 of its 1,002 members on probation.
Glazier and Slive set up shop with a law firm in Chicago in 1986 and hired Kathy Jones, a lawyer specializing in NCAA compliance. In 1990 they moved to Overland Park to be near the NCAA, later joining the higher education department of Bond, Schoeneck and King.
Soon after, Slive left to become commissioner of the Great Midwest Conference. Glazier then hired Evrard, also a former NCAA investigator, and business has continued to flourish. "I'd love it if these cases didn't have to be brought," says Glazier. "If we can get 100-percent rules compliance, I'm out of business. But the pressures are increasing, and so are the lengths to which people will go."
Mike Glazier doesn't look like a man whose business is drying up. He looks more like a man who will be spending a lot of time in Tallahassee over the next few months. And after that, another school in trouble will surely give him a call.