William pleaded guilty to negligent homicide last year after a shooting in a bar in New Iberia, La. and was sentenced to three years in prison. Johnny meanwhile was doing wondrous things on the gridiron and coming under tremendous pressure to attend LSU. And, indeed, last December he agreed to go to that school.
But new circumstances soon arose. On Feb. 5 William was paroled from prison, partly because he was able to tell the parole board that he had a job waiting for him—with a business owned by a Texas A&M alum. Whether by coincidence or not, Johnny was now leaning toward playing for the Aggies. On Feb. 26 a man called William's parole officer, identified himself and asked for William's phone number. He was given the number. William says that later that same day he received an anonymous call from a man who told him that unless Johnny stuck to his decision to attend LSU, "you stand a chance of going back to prison." Despite that threat, the next day Johnny signed a national letter of intent with Texas A&M.
The Louisiana Department of Corrections says it knows the identity of the man who requested William's phone number, but that it cannot prove he is the same one who threatened William. LSU pronounces itself "satisfied" that the man who threatened William has no official connection with the school.
Johnny's case has come under the scrutiny of the NCAA, which, as it happens, had sent a staff member to visit him in May as part of "Operation Intercept." That is a new program designed to monitor the recruiting of top athletes for irregularities, which used to mean only under-the-table payments and the like. Hector's case suggests that recruiting can be even more devious than that.