Case No. 427 (Confidential Report No. 78  by the National Collegiate Athletic Association Committee on Infractions to the NCAA Council) began quietly, if ominously, enough on Oct. 4, 1972 with a form letter from NCAA Assistant Executive Director Warren Brown to Long Beach State President Stephen Horn. The key passage read: "This letter is a preliminary indication of a possible inquiry into the athletic practices and policies of California State College, Long Beach."
In the succeeding months two NCAA investigators periodically appeared on the Long Beach campus for what they called "visits" with several basketball and football players. All-America Ed Ratleff, quizzed for an hour about possible illegal offers made by the basketball staff, recalls: "I told them, 'Look, I don't have anything to tell you. Why don't you go over to UCLA or some other school where they have money and talk to them?' "
Quarterback Randy Drake, summoned from the practice field and ushered into an office while still in full uniform, pronounced himself "insulted" by the tenor of the questioning and clomped out the door with helmet in hand. Word went around that, as one beaming player put it upon emerging from the interrogation room, "everybody and everything is cool at Long Beach."
The investigation, however, not only continued but broadened. Soon there were accounts of NCAA investigators talking to relatives and friends of players, to high school coaches, playground directors, bankers, teachers, girl friends, landlords, boosters, lawyers and handwriting analysts. NCAA investigators, it was reported, were asking hard questions about Long Beach State in New York, Detroit, San Francisco, Phoenix, St. Louis, Las Vegas, East Rutherford, N.J., Hattiesburg, Miss., Ypsilanti, Mich. and the Los Angeles County Jail. They were scrutinizing credit-card receipts, test scores, foundation budgets, car registrations, checking accounts, travel vouchers, grade transcripts, bank loans and motel records. They were, it was whispered, talking to everybody. They were probing into everything.
Still, the feeling prevailed that Long Beach State was clean, that at worst the NCAA sleuths might turn up a minor infraction or two. But just in case, whenever the subject of the NCAA investigation was seriously broached, some coaches and boosters began secretly tape-recording their conversations.
On April 1, 1973, after five seasons at Long Beach State, Basketball Coach Jerry Tarkanian accepted "a long-standing offer that is too good to refuse" and left for a new coaching job at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Four days later Warren Brown sent another letter to President Horn. The key passage read: "The allegations and charges have been investigated and appear to be of sufficient substance to warrant an official inquiry."
On Jan. 1, 1974, making good on "a promise I made to my wife two years ago," Football Coach Jim Stangeland resigned after his fifth season at Long Beach State and went into private business.
Five days later, at its 68th annual convention in San Francisco, the NCAA Council ruled: " California State University, Long Beach, has been placed on indefinite probation for not less than three years. The probationary period covers the sports of basketball and football and sanctions include prohibiting the 49ers from appearing in any postseason competition and from appearing in any NCAA television packages in those sports. In the judgment of the Council, the violations involved in this case were among the most serious which it has ever considered."
On Jan. 8, after futile attempts at gaining an appeal, Long Beach State reluctantly complied with NCAA rules and declared ineligible Roscoe Pondexter and Glenn McDonald, both starters on the school's nationally ranked basketball team. Each player was cited for having "a fraudulent test score credited to him which, in fact, he knew he did not properly achieve." Case No. 427, the NCAA then decreed, was closed.