The middle-aged white man had held his college playing weight—exactly 180—but he was bearded now, his dark hair thick with gray. The black man, who had played at a bulky 225, had become immense. Brought together by a writer, the two of them stood staring at each other, momentarily frozen, in the lobby of Chicago's Whitehall Hotel. Their minds were racing back in time, trying to strip away 25 years so that the basketball teammate each had last seen on the Seton Hall campus in South Orange, N.J. could emerge again.
"Hey, Al...how've you been, man?"
Al Senavitis, an outstanding 6'2" guard at Seton Hall, and Art Hicks, a 6'5" swingman who might have been a high NBA draft choice back then, embraced. Each remembered precisely the last time he had seen the other. It was Friday morning, March 17, 1961.
Senavitis recalled the day: "I got up for breakfast and went past their room like I always did. The three of us usually went everywhere together—me, Arthur and Henry Gunter, the center. The door was open, and two guys with ties and jackets were inside. I figured reporters. I asked Arthur if he wanted to go to breakfast. Arthur said, 'I'll meet you in the caf, man. About 10 minutes.' "
Senavitis ate alone. In his second class that day, a student delivered a note telling him to report to the chapel. Al thought immediately that something had happened to his parents. In a room at the chapel, he found everyone on the basketball team except Hicks and Gunter.
Senavitis recalled, "Father Horgan was trying to tell us something, but his voice cracked and tears came to his eyes, so he just turned on the radio. The 11 o'clock news was on. I still remember the exact station—WABC-77. It was all there. A basketball scandal. Point shaving. Seton Hall players involved. Art Hicks and Hank Gunter picked up by the New York District Attorney's office...."
Because he had been close to Art and Hank, Senavitis was chosen to clean out their room. Any doubts that Hicks and Gunter were involved disappeared when Senavitis, accompanied by a priest, found eight 100-dollar bills behind a baseboard in the room and a man's Persian lamb coat in Art's closet. "I decided that I had to see Arthur, to have him tell me to my face why he did it," Senavitis recalled. "I believed he owed me that. I went to the hotel in New York where Al and Hank were being kept in protective custody, but the detectives wouldn't let me in."
Hicks talked about those two New York City detectives as well. He said that after they came to his room that devastating morning, "they kept showing me pictures of guys and asking, 'Do you know this gentleman?' I kept saying, 'No, I don't.' Then we went over to the college president's office and a guy already there had a picture of me sitting at a table with one of the guys I just said I never saw before. That's when I knew it was all up."
The detectives picked up Hicks and Gunter a quarter of a century ago in connection with a point-shaving scandal that involved, in all, 47 players from some two dozen colleges. The number of fixed games has never been accurately determined. All the players agreed to testify and were granted immunity from prosecution; none went to prison. Among the gamblers who were sentenced to jail at this time were Aaron Wagman, who had fixed more than 100 games in the late 1950s and early '60s (see page 54), and Joseph Hacken, who had been deeply involved in the Seton Hall fixes.