AMERICA'S FUNNIEST UNIVERSITY
Was Minnesota joking when it slapped itself on the wrist?
Between the movie Fargo and electing a pro wrestler as governor,
Minnesota has given us some laughs lately. The state served up
more merriment last week--you betcha!--when University of
Minnesota president Mark Yudof announced the school's
self-imposed penalty against its men's basketball team for a
massive cheating scandal (SI, June 14). With a perfect deadpan
delivery, Yudof banned the Gophers from playing in the 2000 NCAA
or NIT tournaments. He said he wanted to show that his school
"meant business" and could police itself.
Now that's funny. Minnesota has been picked as low as 11th in
the Big Ten under first-year head coach Dan Monson, so banning
the Gophers from the postseason sounds a lot like barring the
Saints from the Super Bowl. More important, the punishment
hardly fits the crime. In the face of misconduct that included
the ghostwriting of players' course work by a university
staffer, travel irregularities involving the coaching staff, and
callous treatment by school officials and police toward women
who said they had been sexually harassed by athletes, this ban
is like a vow from Jeffrey Dahmer to work on his table manners.
Ever the jester, Yudof says his sanctions are in the "middle
range of penalties." The low range would presumably entail
changing the flavor of Gatorade in the Gophers' cooler. With the
university's probe entering its eighth month, only two people
have lost their jobs. Academic counselor Alonzo Newby was fired
after refusing to cooperate with school investigators, and coach
Clem Haskins skipped town with a $1.5 million buyout. Holy
Golden Gopher Parachute! Vice president McKinley Boston--who
apparently allowed his buddy Haskins to set up an independent
academic support system for the basketball team--is still on the
job, along with men's athletic director Mark Dienhart and the
school's NCAA compliance director, Chris Schoeman.
Of course, Yudof's act was in keeping with the blueprint for
beleaguered schools. After getting caught breaking the rules, a
university punishes itself in hopes of returning to the NCAA's
good graces. For that to work, though, the sanctions must at
least approach the severity of the violations. Otherwise the
self-punisher's words ring as hollow as Haskins's avowal of his
innocence. When the NCAA reviews Yudof's measures, you can bet it
will send Minnesota a simple message: Get serious. --L. Jon
J.R. Redmond faked a marriage to stay eligible for football
There are good and bad reasons to get married, and at the very
bottom of the scale there's J.R. Redmond's reason. On Aug. 25,
Redmond, Arizona State's star senior tailback, wed Francine
Arthur, a student at the school and part-time employee in the
Sun Devils' athletic department. His goal: to protect his
Last week Redmond admitted to Arizona State associate athletic
director Betsy Mosher and Pac-10 assistant commissioner Dan
Coonan that he got married to hide illicit benefits he'd
received from Arthur. She and Redmond agree that she gave him a
cell phone in August, that he used it to ring up more than $400
in charges, for which she paid, and that they went to Las Vegas
together in September, again on her dime. On almost everything
else, however, husband and wife don't see eye to eye.
Redmond, 22, told investigators that his relationship with
Arthur, 31, was platonic. He said she told him in August that
the school was probing their relationship and that his accepting
the cell phone from her could cost him his eligibility unless
they got hitched. That night at the Wedding Chapel in Mesa,
Ariz., Redmond married Arthur, who has two children of her own.
He figured he could get an annulment after the football season.
The newlyweds never lived together--Redmond resides with his
father and a teammate in an off-campus apartment--and Redmond
never told his friends or coaches about the marriage.
A potential NFL first-rounder, Redmond said he soon began to
suspect that Arthur had conned him into marrying her, hoping to
share his future earnings. Though he flew with her to Vegas, he
said he made the trip to see relatives. He claimed that when he
tried to pay for his ticket, Arthur refused his money, and that
she also turned him down when he tried to pay his cell phone bill.
Arthur tells a different tale. She says that she and Redmond
became romantically involved last April and that she never
coerced him into marrying her. She calls the Vegas trip their
honeymoon. "The purpose of the trip was love and romance,"
Arthur told SI. "He wanted to stay in a room with a hot tub.
He'd never done anything in a hot tub before."
Cracks in the marriage began to show on Oct. 10, Arthur says,
when she got a cell phone bill showing calls to a number she
didn't recognize. She claims she dialed it and that the woman
who answered said she was involved with Redmond. Arthur
confronted her husband. "I told him he could have a divorce, a
clean break," she says. "He said he needed to stay married until
The next day the Pac-10 informed Arizona State of an anonymous
tip the NCAA had received claiming Redmond had gotten improper
help with his schoolwork. The NCAA passed the tip to Coonan, who
looked into the charge but couldn't corroborate it. On Oct. 21
the school was told that a tipster had called the NCAA with more
allegations, this time including charges that Redmond had
received improper financial benefits. Coonan and Mosher say they
couldn't confirm these charges any more than they can verify
Arthur's claims that she gave Redmond rent money and paid to get
his car out of a tow lot.
Redmond filed for divorce on Oct. 22. Five days later Arthur
received a protective order against her husband requiring that
he stay at least 1,000 feet from her. She quit her job in the
athletic department last Friday.
Redmond, who was suspended for last Saturday's 20-17 loss at
Oregon, has been ordered to pay $652.29 in restitution--the
money will go to charity--and do 20 hours of community service.
He's eligible to play this week.
King of the World
There was no fist-pumping glee to Tiger Woods's victory at the
Tour Championship in Houston last week. His thoughts and those
of the 28 other players were on Payne Stewart, who died in a
plane crash on Oct. 25, three days before the event began. Bob
Estes opened the tournament by using his putter to tee off on
his first hole at Champions Club. Estes tapped his shot about 15
feet--emulating the putt Stewart made to win this year's U.S.
Open--and went on to double-bogey the hole. That led some
golfers, including eventual runner-up Davis Love III, to
question Estes's judgment. "I don't think Payne wants us
throwing away strokes," said Love.
The week's sweetest tribute came from Stuart Appleby, whose
25-year-old wife, Renay, died last year when she was hit by a
car. On the eve of Stewart's memorial service Appleby went to
his friend's house in Orlando and asked Stewart's widow, Tracey,
if he could raid Payne's closet. During Sunday's final round
Appleby looked eerily like Stewart in his knickers and
tam-o'-shanter, though he admitted he doesn't swing as well as
One who does is Woods. In winning his third straight event and
seventh of the year--including the PGA Championship, his second
major--he ran his 1999 earnings to $5,616,585, more than doubling
the record David Duval set last year.
Woods's take on the 1999 PGA Tour is more than the total purse
in 1969 and only $80,162 short of what Jack Nicklaus has won in
his Tour career. With one more event on the schedule, this
week's World Golf Championship in Valderrama, Spain, Woods has a
chance to zoom past $6 million and challenge Michael Jordan as
the sports world's dominant economic force. Not bad for a guy
who won't turn 24 until Dec. 30.
ROSE VS. GRAY
Fussin' with The Hit King
Like fish in a packed aquarium, we media types ate one of our
own last week. Not sated by the Stewart story and the World
Series, we nibbled on Jim Gray, who had pressed Pete Rose before
Game 2 of the Series over Rose's alleged betting on baseball.
The Miami Herald's Dan LeBatard called Gray "the world's
toughest dweeb" and questioned the wisdom of asking Rose to
slide headfirst into an apology. "If you don't believe Rose when
he says he didn't bet on baseball," wrote LeBatard, "are you
going to turn around and believe him when he says he's sorry
that he did?" On ESPN's The Sports Reporters, Mitch Albom
defended Gray but chided him for his pit-bull approach, agreeing
with Gray's ideology if not his methodology.
Perhaps Gray went too far. Maybe he fell prey to his own
ambition. A report circulated that he had been instructed in an
NBC preproduction meeting not to pursue the gambling topic with
Rose. "That's absolutely not true," says colleague Bob Costas.
This much is true: Gray is not particularly telegenic. He
doesn't have a meet-you-at-the-Shark-Bar rapport with pro
athletes, and he looks as comfortable on camera as Farrah
Fawcett on the Letterman show. He's the sideline reporter who
won't ever host Entertainment Tonight. But he's also the
sideline reporter who asks terse, direct questions that other
reporters would ask if they had the guts. He needn't apologize
for that, and his boss, NBC sports chairman Dick Ebersol,
shouldn't have let him do so before Game 3.
"Jim Gray is very good at what he does," says Costas. "It would
be unfair if he gets Bill Bucknered over this." --John Walters
Tim Scott wanted more than the plaque and the $10,000 winner's
check at the third annual EA Sports Internet Tour Championship,
which ended on Oct. 15. Scott, 41, wanted vindication.
He had spent months practicing. "My kids didn't care for it,"
says Scott, a chemical salesman from Sugar Land, Texas, "but I'd
been trying to qualify for this for three years." The 6'2",
275-pound Scott--a standout in the shot put and discus at Texas
A&M from 1977 to '80--and seven other virtual jocks earned
expenses-paid trips to Las Vegas for the finals by playing Tiger
Woods/PGA Tour golf in a series of on-line preliminaries.
Defending champion Chad Parkerson, who battles Lou Gehrig's
disease, competed from his home in Eastman, Ga.
Heading into the last round of the championship at the Summerlin
Resort--which simultaneously hosted the real-world Las Vegas
Invitational--Scott held a four-stroke lead over Dan Mazur, of
Thornhill, Ont., and was seven up on '97 champ Brian Holzberger,
from Jackson, Wis. Holzberger blistered the virtual version of
the course with a final-round 54 to finish at 61 under. He
seized the lead from Scott on the back nine, but the man with
the on-line moniker Big Bertha strung together a gaggle of
birdies and reached the last hole with a two-stroke lead. "I
just told myself not to hit it left," said Scott of his approach
to a green protected by water on the port side. His electronic
ball drew dangerously but stayed dry, and he got down in par.
While the other finalists waited for a limo back to the Strip,
Scott called his wife back home. "Karen screamed," he said as he
hung up the pay phone. Asked his next move, Scott said, "I don't
know. We've already been to Disney World." --Scott Gummer
In their warmup for Saturday's showdown the two front-runners
avoided Heismanic depression. Wisconsin's Ron Dayne ran for 162
yards at Northwestern, and Purdue's Drew Brees threw for 283
yards at Minnesota, icing a Boiler win with a Dayne-ish seven
rushes for 51 yards. Dayne's cool, Brees is great and vice
versa, but with the home crowd's help the industrial management
major from the quarterback factory can zero in on the hardware.
Attendance at the Browns' home games as a percentage of Cleveland
Browns Stadium capacity.
Halves, of the 16 they've played this season, in which the Eagles
haven't scored an offensive touchdown.
1 to 16
Odds offered by Ladbrokes on New Zealand before its stunning
Rugby World Cup semifinal loss to France.
Days before the Cubs named Don Baylor their new manager that the
news was on the team's Web site.
Official time that ref Bennie Adams missed during a
Grizzlies-Nuggets preseason game to go to the bathroom.
--The Phillies, by Hideo Nomo, who wants nomo than about $9
million a year. Nomo, 12-8 with a 4.54 ERA for the Brewers in
1999, broke off talks after the Phils balked at giving him more
than the $5.65 million they will pay ace Curt Schilling next
--A '96 Land Rover driven by Hornets forward Derrick Coleman, who
collided with a grocery store delivery truck and was charged with
driving while intoxicated. He needed stitches; Hornet Eldridge
Recasner broke his right shoulder and suffered a collapsed lung.
--The phone system in Glasgow when tickets to the
England-Scotland Euro 2000 soccer qualifier went on sale. Nearly
17,000 calls came in the first minute, but only four tickets
were sold before circuits shut down.
--Max Patkin (right), of a heart aneurysm, in Paoli, Pa. Patkin,
79, mugged and joked at more than 4,000 minor league games over
five decades and played himself in Bull Durham.
--Golf's Nike tour, which will be known for at least the next
five years as the Buy.com tour. The less-than-subtle E-tailer
vows to boost minimum purses on the PGA Tour's minor league
circuit by 55% to $350,000 per E-vent.
This Week's Sign That the Apocalypse Is Upon Us
The Pittsburgh athletic department is selling showerheads ($50)
and toilet stalls ($450) from soon-to-be-demolished Pitt Stadium.
Saints from the Super Bowl.
Raptors coach, after cutting rap mogul and aspiring basketballer
Percy (Master P) Miller: "He took it hard, just like any