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427: A CASE IN POINT
Ray Kennedy
June 10, 1974
Violations of athletic policies and proprieties proved the ruin of sport at Long Beach State. A study of men and motives that raises uneasy questions about the games colleges play today
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June 10, 1974

427: A Case In Point

Violations of athletic policies and proprieties proved the ruin of sport at Long Beach State. A study of men and motives that raises uneasy questions about the games colleges play today

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When the real NCAA agents infiltrated Long Beach, they operated on the likelihood that the better the player the worse the hanky-panky. That led them to the talented likes of Running Back Terry Metcalf a JC transfer who took up where Leon Burns and Jim Kirby left off by powering for a conference record 1,673 yards and 29 touchdowns to ensure another PCAA title for the 49ers in Coach Stangeland's third season.

The NCAA investigators also sought out other heavily recruited players like Tight End John Turner and Linebacker Charles Lewis, whose laments are variations on the Pondexter theme. Turner, for example, says, "I first became disillusioned when I was in junior college and two coaches from Tulsa and two from Long Beach cornered me in a campus parking lot and started a tug of war. They kept screaming insults at each other until I thought they were going to come to blows. I felt like a piece of beef."

President Horn undoubtedly felt like chopped liver when on April 5. 1973 the NCAA sent him a long, incriminating list of allegations in question form and charged the school with the responsibility of gathering replies from all parties concerned. Ordered, in effect, to have the university assist in tying the noose for its own public hanging, Horn reluctantly went along.

Athletic Director Comer, armed with a tape recorder and his trusty NCAA manual, was sent out like a roving reporter to ask the NCAA's prickly questions, a thankless and demeaning chore that took him five months and 300 man-hours to complete. The allegations not only implicated Tarkanian, Ivan Duncan and the products of their more prosperous years—Ratleff, Douse, Gervin, Gray and Roscoe Pondexter—as well as Stangeland, Bill Miller and their prime recruits—Burns, Kirby, Metcalf, Turner and Lewis—but myriad other interested bystanders whose revelations, the NCAA hoped, might sharpen the focus.

Playing the NCAA version of 20 Questions became so burdensome in the spring and summer of 1973 that Don Gill, vice-president of the Long Beach State Foundation, and John Shainline, dean of students, had to help out. One of their more awkward confrontations was the trial-by-telephone of Vic Weiss, a Los Angeles auto dealer and longtime friend of Tarkanian who serves as agent for George Trapp and other 49er basketball players in their dealings with the pros. Excerpts:

Gill: O.K., the first question says, quote, "It is alleged, that during the early spring of 1972 then student-athlete Ernie Douse entered into an agreement with a representative of the university's athletic interest, Victor Weiss, for the marketing of his athletic ability. Specifically, this agreement provided for Weiss to give financial assistance to Douse during the period of his attendance at the university as well as other benefits in return for the right for Weiss to represent him in future professional basketball negotiations. Please indicate whether this information is substantially correct and submit evidence to support your response."

Weiss: I never had any agreement with Ernie at all....

Gill: O.K., the next one is on page 224, question 2, quote:' "It is alleged that prior to the 1973 Easter vacation then student-athlete Ernie Douse was given cash to spend during a return trip to his home by a representative of the university's athletic interest, Victor Weiss."

Weiss: I didn't give Ernie any cash for any vacation.... In the previous discussion with the NCAA it was supposedly a check, not cash, and I already made my account available to them but they never came back to look at it....

Gill: They did not look at it? I think that's important that they didn't take the time to see it when it was available. Then they go back and write up these allegations and make us do all of it....

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