Says Cebrun, "I counsel basketball players about their game and careers. For high school kids, I help them make the right choice about college. With college players, I consult with them about moving into the NBA."
Or the NFL, as was the case when Cebrun came to Tallahassee to try to lure some Seminoles to his stable of "consul-tees." Lockhart, who became romantically involved with Cebrun after he arrived in Tallahassee, remembers that Cebrun, almost from the moment he walked through her door, was itching to get over to Burt Reynolds Hall. During his first night in Tallahassee, he asked Lockhart to drive him to the dorm. While she sat in the car, Cebrun went into the dorm to try to meet players. He had no luck.
The next day Cebrun, undeterred, asked Lockhart if she knew anyone who might be acquainted with some of the Seminole players. Lockhart immediately thought of Williams, the son of a friend of hers who is a minister. The 30-year-old Williams was a part-time coach for Florida A&M University High School in '93 and before that had coached at Tallahassee's Rickards High. Lockhart called Williams, and he agreed to introduce Cebrun to Florida State players.
On Sunday, Oct. 10, the day after Florida State's big win over Miami, Williams set up a meeting of interested players for that evening. Lockhart drove the two men to Burt Reynolds Hall. Charlie Ward, the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback who led the Seminoles to last season's national title, was No. 1 on Cebrun's wish list, and according to Williams, the first place he and Cebrun tried was Ward's room. Ward wasn't there. "Next we went to Corey Sawyer's room," Williams recalls. There Sawyer assembled a dozen players. "Coach [Nate] took over. He pulled out a picture of himself with a group of players, including [former UNLV basketball stars] Larry Johnson and Stacy Augmon. He kept talking about UNLV. He promised he would take each of them to Las Vegas at the end of the season. To give them a taste of what they could expect in Vegas, he showed them a picture of himself with women wearing bikini bottoms and no tops. Nate told the players, 'If y'all need monies, either call me direct'—and he passed out his card—'or get in touch with Paul.' Eventually we went from room to room. He was showing me the ropes on how to give them personal attention. But I told him he had them, he didn't need to do no more talking. They were sold."
According to Sawyer, Cebrun repeatedly dropped Endicott's name during that first meeting. Endicott represents Larry Johnson and negotiated his 12-year, $84 million contract with the NBA Charlotte Hornets. "He [Cebrun] kept asking us to fly out to Las Vegas," Sawyer says. "They were basically trying to buy us. They were talking about buying cars. I'm not gonna lie, it was very tempting. He said he knew people who could get us tickets for the Bowe-Holyfield fight. He said he would fly us out there. He said he would take us to the strip joints, with some of the best females in America. We'll have females for you, hotel, limos, all the stuff that a college athlete would jump into."
Endicott, who subsequently flew to Tallahassee to meet with a number of the players that Cebrun had lined up, denies that he had a working agreement with Cebrun or that Cebrun was authorized to speak on his behalf. "I never heard of Nate Cebrun until the middle of the fall," Endicott says. "I know some of the stories he's been telling people. Somebody in Tallahassee called me and told me that he said he was representing me. I have no control over that. We never had any agreement."
It was 1 a.m. when Williams and Cebrun rejoined Lockhart in the car. "Man, I got 'em," Lockhart heard Cebrun brag to Williams. "All I have to do is show them my ring, talk to them about Larry Johnson and Endicott, and I got them."
The next day, Monday, Oct. 11, Cebrun and Williams returned to Burt Reynolds Hall to get the players to fill out forms asking for their phone numbers, weight, height, times in the 40 and the weight they could bench-press. There was nothing binding or improper about the forms, but they gave Cebrun something he could show to Spectrum, Endicott or any other agent he might try to strike a deal with. "The sheet was just a questionnaire," Williams says. "It wasn't an obligation. At least nine players signed them."
Says Lockhart, "Cebrun said he wanted to get the money to the ones who had signed up as soon as possible. He said the two things a player needs money for most are taking his girlfriend out and paying his phone bills. He asked me for money that day to give to the players, and I gave him $1,200 as a loan."
Lockhart also says that Cebrun placed a call to someone—whether it was Bey or an agent, Lockhart couldn't say—who agreed to wire him $500. On Tuesday, Lockhart drove Cebrun to the Western Union office on East Tennessee Street to collect the money. Then they picked up Williams and went back to the dorm.