Golden State Warriors forward Joe Smith's spotless image was spattered in July when he was charged with malicious wounding for what prosecutors said was his part in a July bar brawl in Chesapeake, Va. (Scorecard, Aug. 12). Some of the damage was undone last week when a district judge dismissed the allegations in a preliminary hearing.
"Thank you, Lord!" cried Smith's mother, Letha, after the ruling was announced. Thank you also to six defense witnesses who were at the scene and effectively countered the testimony of prosecution witnesses who contended that Smith (left) struck a male dancer with a beer bottle, cutting the dancer below the neck.
Smith, 21, admitted he was drinking that evening in Ridley's Restaurant and Lounge and that he and his friends were loud. But he denied throwing an ashtray (which the prosecution said precipitated the brawl), and he denied hitting the dancer with a bottle. Now he wants to put the incident behind him, although he says it has changed him. "I'm not as open as I used to be," Smith says. "I was known as a good, wholesome person who never got in trouble. It tarnished my image and really hurt me."
Chad Ganden, the learning-disabled swimmer who fought an eligibility battle with the NCAA while at Naperville (III.) North High (Scorecard, Dec. 11, 1995), earned a partial victory when he was awarded an athletic scholarship last month to Michigan State, where he is a freshman. But his battles with the NCAA are not over. Ganden, who won back-to-back 100-yard freestyle state titles, was declared a "partial qualifier," meaning he is allowed to work out with the Spartan swimmers but cannot compete this season. The NCAA did not recognize two of Ganden's high school subjects as core courses, leaving his grade point average of 2.1 below full-qualifier status. Michigan State planned to file an appeal with the NCAA this week, but Ganden's parents, Warren and Susan, frustrated by what they consider the NCAA's unwillingness to accommodate learning-disabled athletes, say they're not optimistic.