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PORTRAIT OF A FIXER
Ray Cave
May 08, 1961
Five weeks ago (SI, March 27) revelations of fixed college basketball games began to spread over the nation's front pages. At first, only four students from two colleges—Seton Hall and the University of Connecticut—were named by New York District Attorney Frank Hogan as having taken bribes. Last week Mr. Hogan's office listed as conspirators eight students from five other schools: Mississippi State, the universities of North Carolina and Tennessee, LaSalle and St. Joseph's colleges. Sadly, more are still to come. When the scandal broke, play for the national championship was reaching its final stages, and of the four teams that were to fight it out in Kansas City, one was St. Joseph's, which had not yet been mentioned in connection with the fixes. But Sports Illustrated was aware that three St. Joseph's players had accepted bribes. Accordingly, Basketball Editor Ray Cave spent several days in Philadelphia with the team, and traveled with it to Kansas City, where he watched it win third place in the tournament. He particularly observed one of the three players, a forward named Frank Majewski, because it was Majewski who had brought the other two into the conspiracy. Cave's report on Majewski, out of deference to the grand jury's inquiries, has been held up until now. What follows, then, is a unique sports story: a portrait of a fixer drawn at a time when he was still unexposed, but operating under the dual stress of national championship play and of the knowledge that an investigation was in progress that might bring his private world crashing down around his ears. Last week Frank Majewski's private world crashed.
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May 08, 1961

Portrait Of A Fixer

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Five weeks ago (SI, March 27) revelations of fixed college basketball games began to spread over the nation's front pages. At first, only four students from two colleges—Seton Hall and the University of Connecticut—were named by New York District Attorney Frank Hogan as having taken bribes. Last week Mr. Hogan's office listed as conspirators eight students from five other schools: Mississippi State, the universities of North Carolina and Tennessee, LaSalle and St. Joseph's colleges. Sadly, more are still to come. When the scandal broke, play for the national championship was reaching its final stages, and of the four teams that were to fight it out in Kansas City, one was St. Joseph's, which had not yet been mentioned in connection with the fixes. But Sports Illustrated was aware that three St. Joseph's players had accepted bribes. Accordingly, Basketball Editor Ray Cave spent several days in Philadelphia with the team, and traveled with it to Kansas City, where he watched it win third place in the tournament. He particularly observed one of the three players, a forward named Frank Majewski, because it was Majewski who had brought the other two into the conspiracy. Cave's report on Majewski, out of deference to the grand jury's inquiries, has been held up until now. What follows, then, is a unique sports story: a portrait of a fixer drawn at a time when he was still unexposed, but operating under the dual stress of national championship play and of the knowledge that an investigation was in progress that might bring his private world crashing down around his ears. Last week Frank Majewski's private world crashed.

The St. Joseph's College basketball team, champion of the East and winner of 24 out of 28 games, was holding its final practice before leaving Philadelphia for the national championship tournament at Kansas City. Its members looked crisp and confident as they scrimmaged, with one marked exception—a round-shouldered, burly 6-foot-3 blond who was moving with the mechanical listlessness of a sleepwalker. "Everybody looks good but Majewski," said the Rev. Joseph M. Geib, faculty athletic moderator, as the practice ended. "I don't know where his mind is, but it certainly isn't here."

Frank Majewski's mind was in the New York district attorney's office. Only five days before, on March 17, D. A. Frank Hogan had disclosed a new basketball scandal. Two players from Seton Hall University had admitted taking bribes to shave points, players from other schools were being questioned, and as many as 20 colleges were said to be involved. That very Wednesday morning detectives had come to Philadelphia to pick up a LaSalle College player and take him to New York for questioning.

Now, with his team preparing to play Ohio State in the semifinals of the national championship—an athletic stature little St. Joseph's College had never achieved before—Majewski was surely wondering how close the bribery investigation was getting to him. For he knew he could be charged with:

?Accepting $2,750 to shave points in three St. Joseph's games.

?Successfully recruiting the two best St. Joseph's players, Captain Jack Egan and Center Vincent Kempton, to join in the game-fixing conspiracy.

?Causing his nationally ranked team to lose at least one game it could and should have won.

Majewski knew that if he were questioned he not only would face personal disaster but his team would not be allowed to play in the championship games. And in spite of his muddied morality, Majewski wanted St. Joseph's to do well in the NCAA tournament. He was greatly worried, and he looked it.

St. Joseph's is a small school (1,450, with only 150 living on campus), located on the fringe of big-college basketball much as it is located on the fringe of Philadelphia's exclusive Main Line—just outside, wishing it were in. Jack Ramsay is athletic director and a teacher of education courses as well as basketball coach. His office is a small, unpainted cubicle. His budget is small, too. St. Joseph's players got hats as gifts for their good season this year, and even that modest purchase made Ramsay wince. His recruiting is limited. Six of his 11-man squad went to high school within two miles of the campus.

There is no limit to St. Joe's basketball spirit and confidence, however. It rose from barely tolerable to downright insufferable when the Hawks won the regional title to qualify for the semifinals at Kansas City.

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