A COACH'S TERRIBLY WRONG DECISION
One day in May 1984, Don Silveri, the basketball coach at Erie Community College in Buffalo, stood in the office of the school registrar. Before him lay a stack of papers—his players' grade sheets. Moments earlier, a worker in the registrar's office had taken the papers from a file, handed them to Silveri and said he was leaving. "At that point," said Silveri, "I knew I had full access to the registrar's office in the future. It was like putting a stack of $50 bills in front of me, leaving me alone to see if I'd take them."
Silveri took just about everything he could. With a pencil, he doctored the grades of several players. "I could have changed everybody's grade at the time, but I didn't," he says. "If a kid needed a grade to graduate, or if I felt he had a chance to succeed with a passing grade, I helped him out." He says he didn't tell his players about this. "In case I got caught, I didn't want them to be part of it."
He got caught. An English professor at ECC became suspicious when one of Silveri's players was unable to do remedial work. The professor investigated the player's past performance in class and found he had failed a course he was credited with passing. ECC officials confronted Silveri on Oct. 15. He confessed to tampering with "10 to 15" players' grades, and resigned the next day.
Silveri claims he was trying to help his players, many of whom are inner city blacks, by giving them a chance to stay in school while they played basketball. "Maybe, just maybe, it was a terribly wrong decision for terribly right reasons," he says. "All I thought about was helping the kids."
Silveri is getting little sympathy from ECC, the NCAA and local law enforcement agencies. "Who is he trying to kid?" asks ECC athletic director Ralph Galanti Jr. "They had to help themselves by going to class." Galanti has already forfeited last season's 33 wins, and there may be more defaults forthcoming. "If a grade was changed, that could affect a player's eligibility," says Chuck Smrt, NCAA assistant director of enforcement. He says that games won with ineligible players—including games involving Division I schools to which the players transferred—might have to be forfeited. Beyond this, Erie County district attorney Richard J. Arcara has been contacted by ECC, and Silveri may yet face criminal charges for falsifying documents.
HOLY MACKEREL! IT SLIPPED!
The Arthur Smith King Mackerel Tournament is the biggest and richest fishing contest in the world. It was held recently along a 70-mile stretch of the South Carolina coast and featured 1,244 boats carrying 6,212 ardent anglers competing for $540,000 in prizes. One of the contestants—the unluckiest of them all, as it turned out—was Fred Holland of Carolina Beach, N.C.
Holland landed a king mackerel that must have weighed upward of 30 pounds, certainly large enough to win him some kind of a prize—if not first ($60,000), then maybe fourth ($22,000). As he was making his way to the scales for the official weigh-in, Holland paused to pose for pictures, and suddenly the dead fish slipped from his grasp. As Holland watched in horror, it splashed into the water beside the dock and sank like an anvil. Everyone gazed into the deep, but there was no fish to be seen. "Dead fish usually float, don't they?" asked Arthur Smith, the entertainer and sportsman from Charlotte for whom the tournament is named.
Holland, in a frenzy, strode up and down the pier peering into the water for a long time. But the Intercoastal Waterway was dark, and the current was swift. He hired a frogman, but the diver came up empty-handed. As Eric Adams of Marion, N.C, took home the grand prize with a 46.88-pound mackerel, Holland was left without a cent, muttering, "You should have seen the one...."