Lott's racist rage was apparently ignited by a 1994 NCAA investigation during which Dotson, a recruit from Pascagoula High, said that Lott, a zealous Ole Miss booster, had given him free meals and car rides. The allegations are one reason that Mississippi is in the midst of a four-year probation and lost 24 scholarships in '95 and '96.
In the face of public outcry, Lott last Saturday resigned his seat on the board of the Jackson County Port Authority. For its part, Ole Miss has formally disassociated itself from Lott. "We won't accept money from him, we won't communicate with him," says Mississippi athletic director Pete Boone. "It's frustrating because we've come so far, and then an isolated incident makes people recall the racism in our history."
Even now, Ole Miss has a reputation for hostility toward blacks. "I'd never been called the n word until we played there," says Dotson. "At the [Nov. 30] game I saw a woman in the stands making ape gestures and pig noises at the black players."
The Confederate flag is still waved by many fans at Mississippi games, and the school mascot is a goateed white man called Colonel Rebel. "Only a child could do what Lott did, so I don't take him seriously," says Dotson. "And I feel sorry for some of the people at Ole Miss because there are good people there. But in 1992 I came to a game there when I was thinking about signing with Mississippi. An Ole Miss player fumbled and somebody in the stands shouted, 'Get that nigger out of the game.' I knew I could never go to that school."
An Olympic Saga
One of the biggest winners at the Atlanta Olympics never competed in the Games. Gabriel Mazimpaka, 22, a distance runner who went to Atlanta as an alternate on the Rwandan team, crossed his own finish line last Friday. At Columbia-Raleigh Community Hospital in North Carolina, Dr. John McElveen performed a 90-minute operation on Mazimpaka's ears that is expected to correct the hearing loss suffered by Mazimpaka when he was tortured two years ago during the genocidal conflict between the Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups in Rwanda.
The surgery, which McElveen did for free, was the culmination of months of international effort on behalf of Mazimpaka. "Now I know what the Olympic spirit means," says Mazimpaka, who was to spend a week recovering at the North Raleigh Hilton free of charge before he flies back to Rwanda.
Mazimpaka's condition was discovered on July 17, when he underwent an ear exam in the Olympic Village as part of a free program sponsored by Atlanta's Miracle-Ear Hearing Center. The audiologist who performed the exam called Mazimpaka's eardrums the most severely damaged she had ever seen. That's when Mazimpaka, one of Rwanda's most promising runners, spoke for the first time of the horrific ordeal he had undergone, enabling his coach, Parfait-Dieudonné Ntukanyagwe, to understand why Mazimpaka had often seemed to ignore him.
In May 1994, according to Mazimpaka, who's a Tutsi, he was captured by Hutu militia near his home in Kigali. The Hutu poured diesel fuel, a caustic substance, into his ears and beat him about the head with their open hands and boards until he passed out. Though his hearing loss was profound, Mazimpaka did not realize the severity of the damage. "I tried not to think about it," he says.
Miracle-Ear arranged for surgery for Mazimpaka immediately after the Olympics, but before the operation could take place, Mazimpaka learned that his sister, Fatuma, was ill. As head of his family, he went home, taking his medical records along in hopes of getting the operation performed in Africa.