During the ensuing 16 months, however, three doctors reviewed Pahulu's case and said that he should be allowed to play. Robert Watkins of the Kerlan Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Inglewood, Calif.; Craig Brigham, a team physician for the Carolina Panthers; and Joseph Torg, formerly a team physician for the Philadelphia Eagles, agreed that Pahulu was at a higher risk of a recurrence of transient quadriplegia if he continued playing. But they also said that a player with spinal stenosis was at no greater risk of sustaining a more severe injury, such as permanent quadriplegia, than was a player without the condition. When Munns still refused to allow Pahulu to play after receiving the latest opinion, from Torg a month ago, Pahulu sought a court injunction.
Although Pahulu volunteered to sign a waiver clearing Kansas of any liability should he sustain a spinal injury, even his attorney, former Kansas basketball player Mike Maddox, acknowledges that "there's no 100-percent guarantee that the university would not get sued" if his client got hurt again. "And even if there was no lawsuit," says Maddox, "no school wants that type of public relations mess on its hands."
With only one year of eligibility remaining and the unlikely possibility that he would be granted a medical redshirt year by the NCAA, Pahulu transferred last week to Southern Utah University, a Division I-AA school whose team doctor was satisfied with the prognosis of Watkins, Brigham and Torg. In the Thunderbirds' opener last Saturday against Angelo State, Pahulu had four tackles.
"This has come at a great cost to me and my family," says Pahulu, whose father, Taniela, an airline employee, estimates his family has spent close to $20,000 on legal fees. "Because of all we've spent, my sister can't take piano lessons and my brother can't take singing lessons. If I didn't feel I was making the right decision, I would not have let them make these sacrifices."
He Knows the Ropes
In what might sound like Mark Fuhrman being asked how to promote diversity in the LAPD, Miami has sought the counsel of former agent and convicted felon Mel Levine in dealing with the pervasive presence of agents on campus. Says Hurricane athletic director Paul Dee, "I believe it's called 'Know thy enemy.' " It was Levine who, according to former Hurricane Bennie Blades, violated NCAA rules when he paid thousands of dollars to six members of Miami's 1987 national championship team, including Blades and his brother Brian, Michael Irvin and Brett Perriman.
In August 1994, as part of an in-house investigation, Miami compliance director Craig Angelos contacted Levine, who is serving a 30-month sentence in an El Paso federal prison for tax fraud unrelated to his agent dealings. Angelos grilled Levine on his involvement with past Hurricane players. But he also asked for advice on how Miami could better police its athletes. Levine eventually mailed Angelos a four-page letter suggesting how cheating could be cleaned up nationwide. Angelos forwarded the letter to the NCAA. Among Levine's recommendations: amnesty for players who turn in agents to the NCAA and the almost Orwellian proposal that schools hire full-time security operatives to conduct routine surveillance of players. "I admit what I did was wrong, but I know how to clean it up," Levine says.
Lately national exposure has been hard to come by for No. 3 Texas A&M, which last fall was banned from TV appearances as part of a five-year probation for NCAA rules violations. It appears that exposure at home in College Station hasn't been all that extensive either.
Upon embarking on a recruiting trip to Austin last December, Aggie coach R.C. Slocum and his son-linebacker coach Shawn pulled into a College Station convenience store to buy a few sodas for the 90-mile trip. As R.C. opened the door to the store, two men brushed by him and fled in their car, having robbed the clerk of $350. According to the court testimony last month of one of the crooks, when he and his alleged accomplices got down the road a bit, one said, "I know who that was," referring to the man they had passed in the doorway. "That was Jackie Sherrill." Sherrill last coached at A&M in 1988.