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On the day of the Southern Mississippi game, Kranz, Rothenberg and Olensky allegedly decided that Kranz should approach Eads. He did, and Eads talked it over with Johnson. Both were interested, but said they would have to check it out with "our main man," Williams, and the point guard, Dominique. Later that day Eads, Johnson, Williams and Dominique had a discussion and apparently deeded to go along with Kranz and his colleagues. Later still, Thompson was enlisted by the players. Thompson (whose father, Robert, is due to be released from federal prison this summer after serving some two years of a three-year sentence for making illegal loans) was known to be a gambler conversant with bookie jargon, a man who could act as a go-between for Kranz and his friends.
There was little time in which to bet the Southern Mississippi game, but about $7,000 was wagered on it. Williams, Eads and Johnson each received $900, while Dominique and Thompson each got $400. At a post-game gathering at Kranz's apartment, where cocaine was available, one player was heard to say, "Hey, we won the game and we still got all the money."
The next target was the Virginia Tech game on Feb. 16. But already there was bickering among the players, and according to statements made to the prosecutors, Eads and Johnson were getting nervous. Nothing was done in connection with the Virginia Tech game—"They just couldn't get it together," says Dubelier—and attention turned to the Feb. 20 Memphis State game. But Johnson wanted out. He had stopped attending clandestine meetings with the others, some of which were at Kranz's $600-a-month, two-bedroom apartment just off the Tulane campus. Eads also wanted to take his leave, but told the other players, "If it looks like I need to do something, I'll be in."
Meanwhile, Thompson, who is cooperating with the prosecution, made contact with Ruiz and—unbeknownst to the others—suggested that for the right price he could arrange to have points shaved against Memphis State. It was a classic case of "double dipping," Dubelier says, with Thompson neglecting to tell Ruiz the fix was already in place. Ruiz, who has at least two convictions for gambling-related crimes and who spent 15 months in a federal prison for dealing in counterfeit money, reportedly agreed to distribute $6,000 to the players through a middleman. By far the biggest share went to Thompson.
Sources both in and out of the D.A.'s office say that with more advance warning this time, Olensky and Rothenberg were able to get together $34,000 to bet that Tulane would lose to Memphis State by more than the seven points quoted in Las Vegas. But placing that much money—especially on a Tulane game, which carried scant national interest—was difficult. To solve the problem, Olensky and a friend flew to Las Vegas and were able to get $18,000 down at about 10 different sports books. Another $10,000 was bet with Birmingham bookies and the remaining $6,000 was placed in New Orleans with a bookmaker who is also a Tulane student. Kranz, meanwhile, was in Florida between Feb. 16 and 23 with his parents.
In the Memphis State game, Tulane was ahead by six points at the half. Eads and some other Green Wave players met in the bathroom during the intermission and talked about what should be done. They agreed that State would have to be allowed to score early; indeed, State's star forward, Keith Lee, made three straight baskets in the first 2:17 of the second half to tie the score 34-34. Memphis State guard Andre Turner scored 10 points in the last 7:22 as State pulled away. In the 38 minutes Eads played, he took one shot, which he made, and had five turnovers. This is the same Eads who had been named Instant Offense at an awards banquet and who fired up 226 field-goal attempts during the season. Against State, he failed to shoot in the second half. He later claimed he had an injured wrist. In the final 1:12 of the game, Memphis State's margin never fell below eight points.
Early in the following week, Dubelier says, the players received $13,500, with the largest share, approximately $4,500, going to Williams. "The players were simply motivated by the idea they didn't have to do anything," says another source. "But they knew it was wrong, they did it anyway. They accepted the money." There was talk of rigging the Feb. 26 Louisville game, but the players refused. Said one, "We've wanted to beat Louisville forever." They did, 68-56, ending an 0-18 streak.
By now, rumors were flying. On March 15 Edward F. (Ned) Kohnke IV, a maritime lawyer and Tulane benefactor, was having dinner with his brother Rick, an assistant D.A., their wives and Kohnke's other brother, Doug, at a New Orleans restaurant—Frankie & Johnny's. Talk turned to Tulane basketball, and Doug told his brother he'd heard disturbing rumors. Ned Kohnke was deeply troubled. "I didn't want to go forward unless there was something more than smoke," he says. "What I found was a raging fire."
After several days of torment, he got in touch with Connick's office. Then Kohnke confronted Eads, with whom he often worked out. The two drove around town for 30 minutes, and Kohnke explained immunity to the distraught player. Eads later asked if immunity could be gotten for Johnson, too. Yes, said Kohnke, who occasionally acts as an unpaid volunteer assistant D.A. The arrest of Kranz and Williams on March 26 was the first hint something was amiss.
Coach Ned Fowler, a man of impeccable reputation, with a 70-45 record for his four seasons at Tulane, says he had no idea that point shaving was going on. "It's sad," he says, "but we'll overcome it." None of the other Tulane players have been implicated. The university had launched an internal investigation of the point-shaving rumors, but came up with nothing concrete.