When Long Beach State was censured five months ago for rules violations committed during the reigns of Football Coach Jim Stangeland (1969-1973) and Basketball Coach Jerry Tarkanian (1968-1973), the National Collegiate Athletic Association took pains to point out that the stiff punishment imposed upon the 49ers—indefinite probation for not less than three years, exclusion from postseason games and NCAA television packages, cutbacks in scholarship allotments—was for misdeeds that were "among the most serious we have ever considered."
When the NCAA makes such a ruling (and it has cracked down on 150 other sports programs in the past, including Oklahoma football and North Carolina State basketball), it releases a cryptic "summary of violations," which is devoid of names and specifics. Here for the first time an NCAA case (this one identified simply as No. 427) is particularized and the oft-expressed generalities of what is wrong with college sport today—unscrupulous recruiters, unsupervised boosters, disgruntled athletes, loose money and the desperate pressure to win—are deciphered in human terms. Here are often angry, sometimes contradictory, occasionally eloquent stories of payoffs, bribery, intimidation, fixed grades, free apartments and phony jobs in one college program. And there is one consistently repeated complaint: Why don't they go after the big guys?
Of the 74 violations charged against Long Beach State, six are general reprimands, nine involve free lodging for athletes, primarily in the oceanfront Pacific Holiday Towers, for periods of a few days up to several months, and 13 cover the most common major infraction in college sports: free transportation. Minus those 28 violations, the 46 remaining divide into 23 each against the football and basketball programs.
Of the 23 football violations, five involve Linebacker Charles Lewis.
Specifically, it is charged that early in 1971, while Lewis was attending San Francisco City College, he received credit for courses at Long Beach State without being required to attend class or complete assignments; that, without his knowledge, during the same period he was also given credit at two other schools under a similar bogus arrangement; that on three occasions his relatives were given free motel rooms when they attended home football games; and that he was given spending money by an assistant coach and a Long Beach booster, Russell Guiver.
The NCAA box score on Lewis, the quadruple-threat scholar, is impressive. While earning 12 credits at San Francisco City College, he was also gaining seven from Long Beach State, five from Los Angeles State and three from Azusa Pacific College. Without ever once attending such courses as "Golf," "Advanced Modern Techniques of Coaching Basketball" and "Officiating Men's Spring Sports," Lewis was given straight A's.
Says Lewis: "On my first visit to Long Beach, Miller and Klu [ Assistant Coaches Bill Miller and Mike Kuklenski] met me at the airport and said, "Oh, here's some spending money,' and they gave me $35. When we got to the motel they gave me another $15. I thought, wow, these are outta-sight coaches. When they were showing me around the Student Union, I saw this white jacket with the Long Beach name on it, size 46, and they bought it for me for $16."
Says Miller: "It was only a T shirt, a $2 thing."
Says Lewis: "When I got back to San Francisco City College and decided to stay and get my JC degree. Miller and Coach Stangeland flew in from Long Beach and cracked up a deal right there at the airport. If I signed, I wouldn't have to go to school at Long Beach the first semester, just come for spring practice and they would take care of the grades. So I signed. They were buying me and they were buying grades.
"They mailed me my $110 scholarship checks each month but I had to sign for the last one so I flew down. They reimbursed me for the ticket and after I picked up my check I flew back. I was in Long Beach about two hours.