A self-imposed punishment deleted five glorious Michigan seasons,
but college basketball's larger problems remain
During the 1990s Michigan's basketball teams captivated fans with
their exuberant play. But ever since retired autoworker Ed Martin
pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges last May, maize-and-blue
heads have been hanging lower than the Wolverines' signature
shorts. In his plea agreement Martin said that he gave four
players--Chris Webber, Maurice Taylor, Robert Traylor and Louis
Bullock--a total of $616,000, mostly from gambling winnings. As a
result the school announced last week that it would forfeit 113
wins, return to the NCAA $450,000 in tournament revenue, hold the
team out of the postseason this season and remove banners from
Crisler Arena, including those from the Fab Five's 1992 and '93
trips to the Final Four and the '98 Big Ten title (above right).
"This," president Mary Sue Coleman declared last Thursday, "is a
day of great shame."
For leaving tickets for Martin and letting prospects go to his
house on recruiting visits, the university has shown belated
regrets. (The sanctions seem designed to mitigate penalties the
NCAA might yet impose.) But the players who stonewalled school
and NCAA investigators seem neither to share in Coleman's shame
nor to respect the organizations under whose auspices they built
their careers. Steven Fishman, the lawyer for Traylor and
Bullock, explained why his clients first denied, then admitted,
taking money: "Lying to the NCAA is one thing. Lying to a grand
jury is another." Webber allegedly did lie to the grand jury and
is facing federal charges. He has said that he took only pocket
change from Martin. Also, in 1994, Webber, then a rookie with the
Warriors, had ripped the collegiate system for exploiting him:
"There were times I didn't have enough money to get a pizza. A
pizza!" Yet Martin says, and the feds believe, that Webber and
his family collected $280,000, which is a lot of pepperoni.
November 18, 2002
As for baloney, listen to Taylor, who pocketed $105,000. "The
NCAA uses kids all the time," he said last week. "How can you be
making money off somebody else and not giving anything to them?"
Coleman ought to be most ashamed that a former student regards a
Michigan education--which costs a typical in-state student about
$8,000 a year--as "not giving anything."
But every party in this mess needs to adjust its attitude. Why
should an athlete like Taylor respect education when the
establishment shows it so little regard? Last month the NCAA
dropped a standardized-test-score cutoff from its initial
eligibility requirements, decreeing that a high school athlete
with a combined SAT score of 400--what you get for signing your
name--could play right away, as long as he or she has a grade
point average of 3.55. By conditioning eligibility almost
entirely on high school GPA, the NCAA is inviting fraud. A kid
who scores a 400 has no business logging a 3.55 GPA, yet teachers
and counselors have long inflated grades or fixed transcripts
outright, and now will have more incentive to do so. As the man
said: Grade-fixing is only lying to the NCAA. And with that
organization also exploring ways to relax its formula for
calculating graduation rates, the books will get cooked coming
If the NCAA were serious about reform, it would abolish freshman
eligibility and dock schools one scholarship for every player
they fail to graduate. And it would impose stiffer penalties on
Michigan in the coming months, including scholarship reductions
and a ban on TV appearances. Other schools are sure to join the
Wolverines in purgatory until the NCAA addresses the core
problem: unqualified kids who come to campus and play for "free"
when they'd really rather be doing it for pay somewhere else.
A New Bean Counter
Boston (zero titles in 84 years) hires Bill James to crunch its
A segment of the baseball populace will snicker at the news that
the Red Sox have signed Bill James, founder of the science known
as sabermetrics, as a senior adviser. What's next? Slide rule
giveaways? Jerseys with plastic pocket protectors? Mind you, this
would be the same segment that still believes batting average
best defines hitting performance, that the sacrifice bunt is an
effective offensive weapon and that the golden age refers to the
Wake up, purists, and smell the mothballs. Hiring James, who
began publishing his famous Baseball Abstracts in the 1970s and
who created revered stats such as runs created, is neither
heretical nor revolutionary. The Rangers and the Orioles of the
1980s, the Padres and the Red Sox of the '90s, and the Blue Jays
of last season all employed statistics experts. Running a
baseball team is part art and part science. The art involves
interpreting a player's character, desire and other largely
subjective criteria. The science is finding objective truth in
the sport's sea of statistics. Partly because of James's
influence, that science has become increasingly essential.
"Someone still has to see the player," says Toronto G.M. J.P.
Ricciardi, "but the facts can outweigh the scout. The guy with
the facts is objective."
Ricciardi lives by such words. While an assistant in Oakland in
2001, he traded for minor league third baseman Eric Hinske sight
unseen because Hinske's stats revealed a player with a discerning
batting eye and an ability to get on base. Last spring one of
Ricciardi's first trades as Blue Jays G.M. was landing Hinske,
who went on to win AL Rookie of the Year.
Another of Ricciardi's early moves with Toronto was hiring Keith
Law, a writer for the stat-heavy Baseball Prospectus, as a
consultant. Law, who has an MBA from Carnegie Mellon, "constantly
challenges you" with his perspective, says Ricciardi. It was Law,
not any scout, who advised Toronto to take minor league pitcher
Corey Thurman in the Rule 5 draft, partly because Thurman, though
only 47--44 in six seasons in the Royals' organization, showed
impressive ratios of hits and strikeouts to innings. Thurman, 24,
had a 4.37 ERA in 68 innings last season. "He was the best Rule 5
of the year," Ricciardi said. "Keith saw him coming."
James, 53, will provide similar help to the Red Sox. And as the
most influential stats analyzer in baseball history he could
spawn a more widespread reliance on sabermetricians. James won't
sign or trade players, but he'll offer objective analysis on
potential moves. Every team should welcome such wisdom as a way
to minimize risk in a $3.5 billion industry. --Tom Verducci
7:28 Time into his first game after a heart attack in September
that Cincinnati coach Bob Huggins called timeout and berated one
of his players and a ref.
24 Straight wins for Montana football, which tied the Division
IAA record by beating Sacramento State last Saturday.
84-16-1 Florida State coach Bobby Bowden's record since turning
65 on Nov. 8, 1994.
10 Wins this season for golfer Annika Sorenstam, the first LPGA
player since 1968 to win that many in a year.
41.7 The Bulls' free throw percentage (10 of 24) against the
Mavericks last Friday, the lowest in franchise history.
19 Turnovers for Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper, the most
in the NFL.
14.1 million Average number of TV viewers watching an NFL game
this season, up 9% from this time last year.
200 Estimated fans at the Staples Center for the first match of
the WTA Championships.
2 Goalies in NHL history to get a shutout at a younger age than
the Rangers' Dan Blackburn, who was 19 years, 171 days old when
he blanked Calgary last Thursday.
Why he may remind you of a guy who played indoor soccer 20 years
ago He is that guy. The 43year-old star of the MISL's Milwaukee
Wave is not only indoor soccer's greatest goalie ever but also
the sport's Ironman. Last week he went over the 40,000-minute
mark, which no other player has approached.
How he came to play a shrunken-down, sped-up version of the
world's most popular sport Nogueira, who's from Mozambique and
played for England's Newcastle United, came to the North American
Soccer League in 1979. "I wanted my kids to be educated in the
U.S.," says Nogueira, who has two teenagers with his wife, Pam.
When the NASL moved indoors in '84, so did he, and--despite being
courted by European teams--he's been arena-bound ever since,
playing for four teams in three leagues.
Why, at $30,000 a year, he's worth his weight in gold to the Wave
The eight-time Goalkeeper of the Year and indoor soccer's leader
in saves (8,790) and wins (420), Nogueira has helped Milwaukee to
a 7-1 start and leads the league in goals-against average
Why he's still kicking around Nogueira won't eat beef, is a fool
for motivational books and believes in air freshener. "Every
hotel, he's got his aerosol cans," says Wave coach Keith Tozer.
"He's a mind guy, and he's weird too."
FOR THE RECORD
RETIRED Less than one month into his 19th season, Blue Jackets
forward Kevin Dineen, 39, one of only eight players in NHL
history with 300 goals and 2,000 penalty minutes. Dineen, who
played for four teams, built his reputation as a power forward
with the Hartford Whalers in the late 1980s; he netted 45 goals
in '88--89, the season after he'd been the first Whaler to start
in an AllStar Game. A member of a revered hockey family--his
older brothers, Gord and Peter, were NHL defensemen, and their
father, Bill, won two Stanley Cups as a right wing with the Red
Wings--Dineen played most of his career with Crohn's disease, a
chronic intestinal ailment that he was diagnosed with in 1987.
"In 20 years of playing hockey," says Blue Jackets coach Dave
King, "he never really changed much in terms of his intensity."
INVESTIGATED By Arizona police, a claim by Bellingham, Wash.,
resident Harjeet Singh, 35, that the unsolved murder of a golfer
in Tucson last spring was carried out by John Allen Muhammad, 41,
and John Lee Malvo, 17, the men accused in the serial sniper
killings last month. Jerry Taylor, 60, was shot while practicing
chipping at the Fred Enke Golf Course last March, a time when
Muhammad and Malvo were in Arizona visiting Muhammad's sister.
Last week Singh, who said he met Malvo at a YMCA in Bellingham,
told The Seattle Times that Malvo had boasted to him about
killing and robbing Arizona golfers.
DIED Of unknown causes, Bowling Green women's soccer player
Leslie Dawley, 18. The freshman midfielder collapsed five minutes
into the Falcons' Nov. 5 Mid-American tournament quarterfinal
home game against Buffalo. Trainers ran out to treat her, but
Dawley, who suffered from asthma, died that day at a nearby
hospital. Officials suspended the game after Dawley's collapse,
but at her parents' request the Falcons played the next day;
wearing black armbands bearing Dawley's number 18, they beat the
MISSED By O.J. Simpson, a Miami court appearance to contest the
$65 ticket he received for allegedly exceeding the speed limit in
a powerboat while traveling through a manatee zone in Biscayne
Bay in July. Simpson's absence led Judge Ana Maria Pando to issue
a warrant for his arrest, but the warrant was withdrawn after
Simpson's lawyer rescheduled the hearing for Nov. 22.
NAMED Commissioner of the new United States Professional Softball
League, Hall of Fame Phillies third baseman Mike Schmidt, 53. The
slo-pitch league, which expects to begin play on April 5, has
teams slotted for Philadelphia, Atlanta, L.A. and 17 other cities
and hopes to sell four more franchises at $275,000 apiece. "We
don't want this to be a beer league where they hit 10 home runs
in a row," says Schmidt. Games will be played in minor league and
NCAA parks and will use baseball field measurements. Pete Rose
Jr. and Jose Canseco have been discussed as potential managers.
DETERMINED By an English coroner, that former West Bromwich
Albion and English national team striker Jeff Astle died from a
degenerative brain disease caused by the repeated heading of
soccer balls. Astle, who was 59 when he collapsed and died last
January, played for Albion between 1964 and '74, when balls, made
of leather and prone to sop up moisture, were much heavier than
today's nonabsorbent, synthetic models. Astle scored 174 goals
and was known for his powerful headers. "The family have believed
that heading footballs caused his brain damage," said his
daughter Dawn. "We just wanted the truth to be known."
Retired As the basketball coach at DeMatha Catholic High in
Hyattsville, Md., Morgan Wootten, 71, whose record of 1,274--192
makes him the winningest coach in hoops history. Wootten, whose
teams played tenacious pressure defense, coached his first game
at DeMatha in 1956 and led the Stags to 20 or more wins in 44
straight seasons, earning 33 Catholic League titles and five
unofficial national championships. On Oct. 13, 2000, he was
inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. "His records are so
impressive because they were against the best teams," says Spurs
forward Danny Ferry, who played for Wootten from 1981 to '85. "We
went all over the place. We went to New York, and whoever was the
best team in New York, that's who we played."
Ferry is one of about 200 DeMatha players who played in college
and one of 13 who had careers in the NBA, including six-time
All-Star Adrian Dantley and Grizzlies coach Sidney Lowe. Several
of Wootten's former assistants moved on to head coaching careers,
most notably Notre Dame's Mike Brey and Miami's Perry Clark. Fox
Sports broadcaster James Brown, who was a high school All-America
as a forward-center for Wootten in 1968 and '69 and later played
basketball at Harvard, says DeMatha's teams were drilled on
fundamentals. "Morgan was a stickler," says Brown. "If you threw
a behind-the-back pass, it had better work."
For all his accomplishments, and despite several opportunities,
Wootten never left to coach at a college, saying he couldn't
imagine being happier than he was at DeMatha. He missed only six
games in 46 years, and when a liver transplant put him in Johns
Hopkins University Hospital for 32 days in the summer of 1996, he
was back for the Stags' first practice. "I loved what I did and
was excited about it," Wootten says, adding that he'll still work
with kids at clinics and at his camp in Frostburg, Md. "I
surrounded myself with good people and did my best to help my
kids become better citizens." --Mark Beech
THE WEEK IN TELEVISION
SATURDAY 11/16 > ESPN CLASSIC NOON > CLASSIC WIDE WORLD OF SPORTS
The thrill of cliff-diving championships, the agony of horse
racing on ice--or vice versa, depending on what rocks your world.
SUNDAY 11/17 > ESPN2 2 AM > ATP TENNIS MASTERS CUP, SINGLES FINAL
The men's tennis season comes to an end in Shanghai. Can
top-seeded Lleyton Hewitt defend his title in an eight-man field?
SUNDAY 11/17 > NBC 12:30 PM > NASCAR FORD 400
Tony Stewart tries to hold off Mark Martin and win his first
Winston Cup Series title as the season concludes at the
SUNDAY 11/17 > ESPN 8:30 PM > PATRIOTS AT RAIDERS
Raiders fans are still seething about that overturned call of
what they're sure was a fumble by Pats quarterback Tom Brady in
last year's divisional playoffs.
THURSDAY 11/21 > ESPN 7:30 PM > PITTSBURGH AT NO. 1 MIAMI
Be careful, Hurricanes: The Panthers have already knocked off one
undefeated team (Virginia Tech) this season.
THURSDAY 11/21 > TNT 7:30 PM > ROCKETS AT MAVERICKS
One matchup alone makes this must-see television: 7'5" Yao Ming
versus 7'6" Shawn Bradley. Never has so much height promised so
>> DON'T MISS
THURSDAY 11/21 > NBC 12:30 AM
Late Night with Conan O'Brien
Now this should be an animated show. Serena Williams (far right)
heads a guest list including Nancy Cartwright, Dan Castellaneta
and Harry Shearer, the voices of The Simpsons characters Bart,
Homer and Mr. Burns, respectively.
Chick in the Mail
Charles on O.J.
When Pat Summerall and John Madden split, the Celtics team of
Mike Gorman and Tommy Heinsohn became the longest-running
TV-sports-broadcasting pair. The duo recently covered their
1,000th game. "Working with Mike is like doing a game with your
slippers on," Heinsohn, 68, tells SI. "We really feel comfortable
with each other." Heinsohn, a former Celtics player and coach
whose gravelly pipes have entertained fans since the 1960s, is
enjoying a rebirth in the booth. Since last season he's been
giving out Tommy Points for hustle plays (or, as he says, "for
giving up your body in the pursuit of life, liberty and
happiness") and prompting fans to bring signs bearing the message
I WANT A TOMMY POINT! Says Heinsohn, "Mike tells me, 'Jesus
Christ, Tommy, here we are 20 years later, and you've become a
The honors keep rolling in for Lakers announcer Chick Hearn, who
died in August. Last Thursday, Hearn's widow, Marge, learned that
President Bush had signed a law designating a U.S. post office in
Encino, Calif., as the Francis Dayle "Chick" Hearn Post Office.
In September a station on the Metro Blue Line in L.A. was named
for Hearn, and on Nov. 24, Marge will be at the Staples Center
for Chick Hearn Night as the Lakers raise a jersey bearing
Hearn's name. Says Marge, "He would never have believed the
impact he had on people."
Charles Barkley isn't holding back as a talk-show host. During
last week's Listen Up! Charles Barkley with Ernie Johnson,
Barkley offered legal advice to O.J. Simpson, who failed to show
up for a court hearing concerning a boating violation: "I keep
trying to tell you, O.J.: Once you kill people and get away with
it, you have to obey the law." --R.D.
"What's next? Slide rule giveaways? Jerseys with plastic pocket
protectors?" --BEAN COUNTER, PAGE 30