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Big Man On Campus
Douglas S. Looney
May 23, 1994
Its football team facing a scandal and NCAA scrutiny, Florida State, like many other schools in trouble, has turned to lawyer Mike Glazier
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May 23, 1994

Big Man On Campus

Its football team facing a scandal and NCAA scrutiny, Florida State, like many other schools in trouble, has turned to lawyer Mike Glazier

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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.

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."

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