In the eight years that George Raveling was the men's basketball coach at Southern Cal, he zealously—and proudly—made use of the U.S. Postal Service to help him recruit. During one two-week period in the spring of 1993, Raveling sent 900 letters to the home of Avondre Jones, a 6'11" center from La Puente, Calif., who subsequently signed with the Trojans (he later transferred to Fresno State). Though Raveling retired from coaching in '94, the Trojans' practice of churning out correspondence in stupefying volume continues. It's not uncommon for the missive masters to send out 500 pieces of mail to one prospect in a single day.
"One day I got about 250 letters from them," says Michael McDonald, a Stanford-bound senior point guard at Long Beach (Calif.) Polytechnic. "I opened about four of them and they said practically the same thing, so I stopped. They do it once, and you think, They're really interested. But when they keep on doing it and keep on doing it, you think they're doing the same thing to 30 or 40 other players. You're not going to decide on the school based on the number of letters they send you." By comparison, McDonald got about 30 letters from Stanford over the course of one year. Even Kevin Augustine, a guard from Mater Dei High in Santa Ana, Calif., who has committed to USC and who says the 20 to 50 letters he got every day from the Trojans made him feel that "they cared about me," admits he didn't open most of them.
Basketball Times reported that USC sends out up to 10,000 letters a day to hoops recruits. Miller denies that. But even the 1,000 a day he owns up to is a lot of ink (not to mention thousands of dollars in postage each month). How do they do it? Second-year coach Henry Bibby and his two assistants get into the office at 5:30 a.m. and write until 8 a.m. "Some are one line, some two, some may contain a motivational phrase," says assistant coach Dave Miller, who wields the staff's most prolific pen. "When we can't think of anything else to write, we stop." We submit that stop should become the byword of the USC basketball office.
In Sunday's New York City Marathon, the rabbit, Lazarus Nyakeraka of Kenya, botched his job by running first too slowly and then too quickly, so you might say a hare was out of place. But not on the head of surprise winner Giacomo Leone. The 25-year-old Italian used patience in his pacing and gel in his do to beat a field full of marathon luminaries such as Moses Tanui and Cosmas Ndeti of Kenya and world champion Martin Fiz of Spain and look good doing it. Leone appeared almost as fresh and slick at the finish as when he started two hours, nine minutes and 54 seconds earlier. "He is from the heel of Italy," says Gianni Merlo, an exceedingly dapper writer for the Italian daily La Gazzetta dello Sport. "They like a lot to be stylish."
An Ugly Ghost at BC
The mood around the Boston College campus last week was somber, as internal investigators, with the cooperation of the Middlesex County district attorney's office, began looking into rumors that Eagle football players were involved in gambling and might even have bet against their own team. As of Monday night, no charges had been brought against any player, but in some corners of the campus, people were expecting the worst, because the worst had happened before. On Feb. 5, 1982, reserve forward Rick Kuhn was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for conspiring to fix six Boston College basketball games during the 1978-79 season.
It was BC administrators who went public with the gambling rumors last Saturday night. About two hours after a contentious meeting among football coach Dan Henning, four senior captains and four sophomore players, athletic director Chet Gladchuk called a press conference to announce that he had asked the D.A.'s office to supplement the college's investigation.
Several sources close to the Eagles' football team say that the gambling rumors were at the heart of the Henning-players meeting, at which, according to one of the sources, "there was a lot of shouting." The only player to comment about the session was one of the four sophomores, cornerback Kiernan Speight, who said, "I want my name cleared. I just want justice to be served, basically." The other sophomores at the meeting were running back Jamall Anderson, wideout Brandon King (the grandson of boxing promoter Don King) and linebacker Jermaine Monk. Neither Anderson (knee injury) nor King (fractured foot) has played a down this season. Monk and Speight are starters and are expected to see action this Saturday against Notre Dame—a game that at least one Las Vegas book had taken off the board as of Monday night.
BC's horrible performance in a 20-13 loss to 11-point underdog Pitt last Thursday night fueled speculation about point-shaving that had been swirling around campus since early in the Eagles' disappointing season (the team is 4-5). Those rumors were already dampening the enthusiasm for what should be the high point of BC's season, the nationally televised game against the Fighting Irish at Alumni Stadium. "My father, who played football here, has never forgotten the basketball scandal," says Brian Kane, a freshman history major whose family has had season football tickets for 25 years. "And if this is true, I'll never forget this."