The Fax on Vincent's Side
When not practicing collusion or carpetbaggery, major league owners enjoy nothing more than harassing commissioner Fay Vincent in the hope that he will resign. Last week several owners requested a meeting with Vincent to discuss his future. He declined, instead faxing a five-page letter to all 28 owners in which he cut to the chase. "I will not resign," wrote Vincent. "Ever." But on Monday the two league presidents bowed to the disgruntled owners and called for a special meeting on Sept. 3 at which the owners would debate Vincent's status.
Despite presiding over record attendance during his three years in office and despite helping to generate licensing and marketing revenues that are the richest in sports, Vincent has become unpopular with many owners. But many of baseball's myriad woes were caused by these same owners: George Steinbrenner is responsible for the suspension of George Steinbrenner, and the inability of the league to draft a 1993 schedule is the result of the Chicago Cubs' absurd and arrogant attempt to block National League realignment. Of course, the new schedule is also being delayed because of San Francisco Giant owner Bob Lurie's pending move of his team to Tampa-St. Petersburg, which is being opposed by some owners, including—this is rich—Los Angeles Dodger owner Peter O'Malley, whose father, Walter, spirited that franchise out of Brooklyn. Steinbrenner, the Cubs' owners, O'Malley and others all want to make Vincent a memory so they can replace him with a Muppet who will do their bidding.
In his letter Vincent charitably called the owners "strong, independent, successful, bright people...who understandably want to do things their way." To prevent them from having their way with him, Vincent has retained the services of Brendan Sullivan, the attorney who represented Oliver North in the Iran-Contra hearings. Perhaps John L. Sullivan would have been a better choice for Vincent, given the bare-knuckle brawl he seems to be in for.
The Games Have Begun
The season hasn't even started, but college football is already up to its knees in scandal. At Notre Dame star linebacker Demetrius DuBose was declared temporarily ineligible last week by the school for having allegedly accepted gifts and a $5,000 loan from an Irish booster in Seattle. At Penn State freshman defensive back Brian Miller is still practicing, pending the outcome of an investigation into allegations that he sold cocaine in his hometown of Donora, Pa. And at Miami two Hurricane players were indicted on Aug. 18 on federal fraud charges.
The indictments stemmed from a grand-jury investigation that found that 65 current or former Miami students, including at least 40 football players, had lied on applications for Pell Grants—government grants that are worth as much as $1,700 a year for a scholarship athlete, depending on need. The accused were given 30 days to enter a federal diversion program that allows them to avoid a criminal record in return for an admission of guilt and restitution. Two players, senior wide receiver Lamar Thomas and reserve junior fullback Jason Marucci, missed the deadline and were subsequently indicted. Both maintain that their failure to request entry into the program was an oversight by their lawyers, and as of Monday the two players hoped to be admitted to the program by the end of the week.
According to his indictment, Thomas, a preseason All-America, wrote on his grant application that his father had no income in 1988 or '89 and that his parents were divorced. The indictment states that Thomas's father made nearly $31,000 in 1988 and that his parents, who are married, earned $54,000 in '89. Marucci allegedly made similar misstatements.
The Miami athletes were led down this devious path by one of the athletic department's academic advisers, Tony Russell. Russell, who was fired by Miami in May after he was arrested for possession of crack, admits that lying on the applications was his idea and that athletes paid him $85 apiece for his creative bookkeeping.
Before arriving in Miami in 1990, Russell worked as an assistant football coach at West Virginia State, an NAIA school. Russell was forced to resign from there after a federal postal inspector discovered a chain-letter scheme he was running out of the athletic department—using a school postage meter. Russell says he also forged Pell applications while at West Virginia State. According to Chico Caldwell, West Virginia State's athletic director during the time that Russell was at the school, no one at Miami contacted him about Russell's qualifications.