Nor were the beatings confined exclusively to the field. Cedarville College, five miles east of Wilberforce, stopped scheduling Central State in men's basketball after some of its players were ambushed by CSU students while walking to their team bus following a game on Feb. 26, 1991. Not even the bus was spared; it had its tires slashed.
Last summer the rent came due. Building inspectors closed Central State's dormitories. (Three have since reopened.) Petro launched special audits of Central State's books. Thomas's successor, Herman Smith, who hired Hudson, was fired by the new board of trustees in July after only 16 months.
In August, when the Marauders' football team started practice, the players were housed in two hotels—the Hampshire Inn and the Imperial Inn—located 15 miles north of campus, in Springfield. The Central State cafeteria had also been closed for safety violations, so the players ate lunch at nearby Wilberforce University. Three months later the Central State cafeteria is open, but the football team still resides in Springfield.
"Hey, I don't mind," said sophomore tight end Rob Barney, conscious of the hardships his classmates have endured in the three reopened dorms. "At least we have hot water, soap, towels."
Senior defensive back Irwin Lincoln says that he was pleased by the attitude his teammates adopted in the face of such deprivation. "I've seen both sides of the world," says Lincoln, who played his first two years of college ball at USC. "I hosted Keyshawn Johnson [the first overall pick in the '96 NFL draft] on his recruiting trip, and now I'm taking a bus 15 miles to and from school each day. But we had 105 guys come out for this team on August 5, and you know what? Not one of them has quit."
Further adversity was in the offing. The Marauders had been scheduled to meet Hampton (Va.) College in the Whitney M. Young Classic at the Meadowlands, in New Jersey, on Sept. 28. The game could have netted Central State $100,000. However, in a letter dated Aug. 7 the New York Urban League, which was sponsoring the game, rescinded its invitation to Central State upon learning of the institution's financial disarray.
"Imagine that!" says Hudson, who was irate at the last-minute cancellation. "The Urban League discriminating against a minority group in need of help."
Hudson, you see, is his own one-man Urban League. In fact, the only thing he enjoys more than helping people is meeting people. Hudson, a native of Pittsburgh, moved to Boston in 1964 to work as a sales representative for Gulf Oil. Later he moved up the corporate ladder at Coca-Cola.
"Kenny knew everybody," says Boston Globe sports columnist Will McDonough. "Whenever I paid a visit to [former Boston mayor] Ray Flynn's office, Kenny was sitting there. He loves to schmooze, but not in a slick way."
In 1965 Beantown revolved around Bill Russell, who was leading the Celtics to their seventh straight NBA title. Russell was also about to collect the league's MVP award for the fourth time in five years. In the Hub, Russell was the hub.