With Fans Like This....
Jim King, a member of Florida's House of Representatives and an avid Florida State booster—not necessarily in that order—was the major force behind a 1991 state law enacted to hinder the NCAA in its policing of Florida schools. That law stipulates that Florida athletes facing NCAA inquiries will be granted every constitutionally guaranteed due process protection. Ironically, the law is now working against the Seminoles in an eligibility case involving four of their football players who allegedly took money and gifts from an agent last fall (SI, May 16, et seq.). According to David Berst, the NCAA's head of enforcement, the case could have been decided "in a matter of days," but it will now take much longer.
Significantly, the law does not impose the same due-process requirements on the schools as it does on the NCAA. So, in late July, in an attempt to anticipate NCAA sanctions, Florida State president Talbot D'Alemberte suspended guard Patrick McNeil for three games, linebacker Derrick Brooks and tailback Tiger McMillon for two games apiece and offensive tackle Forrest Conoly indefinitely. D'Alemberte asked the NCAA to speedily rubber-stamp these sanctions, but the NCAA, obligated to follow its own procedures, could not. Instead, the NCAA sued in federal court to overturn the statute, virtually guaranteeing that the fallout from the off-season scandal will haunt FSU well into the regular season.
FSU officials, who on Monday suspended for two games a fifth player, guard Marcus Long, after he acknowledged his presence at a dinner paid for by a prospective agent, plan to go ahead with their self-imposed sanctions. But they do so at considerable peril. If FSU uses a player whom the NCAA later finds to be ineligible, the school risks penalties, including the forfeiture of victories.
If the NCAA loses the suit, consequences are unclear. How could the NCAA preside over a member institution when that institution is not obligated to follow NCAA rules? If the NCAA wins the suit, as it did in a similar case in Nevada last year, it should decide the fate of the four players fairly quickly. The Seminoles may be hoping for that. They may also be hoping that, in the future, "helpful" legislators aren't quite so helpful.
There is speculation that the Las Vegas Posse, one of four U.S.-based Canadian Football League teams, might not complete its first season. The Posse, which is 3-5, is averaging fewer than 12,000 fans per game in the 32,000-capacity Sam Boyd Stadium. On Monday, Posse stock was selling at $2.38 per share on the NASDAQ Exchange, down from a high of $5.25 in early May.
But if the Posse disappears quicker than a tourist's bankroll at the crap table, it has been a memorable season. Herewith a few lowlights:
•Last December majority owner Nick Mileti, a pizzazz kind of guy in a pizzazz kind of town, arranged for Melinda, a magician wearing a G-string and a bikini top, to announce the team name at a press gathering. Melinda climbed into a make-believe cannon on the stage at the Lady Luck Casino Hotel and, after an explosion and much confetti and streamers, emerged from a nearby box holding a sign that read POSSE.
•The Posse held its training camp in the back parking lot of the Riviera Hotel and Casino. The field was 70 yards long—40 yards shorter than CFL regulation—making the execution of long pass plays all but impossible. Then again, the end zones at Sam Boyd Stadium are five yards shorter than CFL regulation.