THE INTERSOUTH CONNECTION
Three months ago Triad Bank of Tulsa filed suit against Intersouth Sports Management Corporation, a defunct Tulsa sports agency firm, claiming that Inter-south had defaulted on a $125,000 loan. In papers filed in Tulsa County district court, the bank referred to alleged contracts signed last year between Intersouth and University of Oklahoma athletes and claimed that Intersouth had given or loaned money to those athletes—all in apparent violation of NCAA rules. Now, backing up those claims, two former Intersouth officials have told SI's Bill Brubaker that the firm had five Oklahoma football and basketball players under contract last year, and that payments were made to six players. One of the officials said that a former Oklahoma assistant football coach had solicited money for several players and had arranged for the official to represent three of them.
According to Tulsa businessman Larry T Johnson, who was Intersouth's president, loans were made by the firm to wide receiver George (Buster) Rhymes ($14,232), quarterback Danny Bradley ($3,600), running back Alvin Ross ($14,880) and basketball player Shawn Clark ($1,070). Johnson also said that $7,000 in loans and payments were made to basketball players Wayman Tisdale and Tisdale's brother, William. Clark is still at Oklahoma, but the others have used up their athletic eligibility with the Sooners.
Johnson said that Intersouth felt that in order to be competitive with other sports agencies, it needed to lend money to selected college athletes. Johnson said, however, that despite the payments allegedly made to Wayman Tisdale, Tisdale selected another agent this spring to negotiate his Indiana Pacers contract. Johnson said he then contacted Tisdale and told him, "Just pay me the money that you owe me, and we'll let it go." Johnson said he had not been repaid.
Johnson detailed loans he said were made to Rhymes for everything from a "signing consideration" ($3,100) to "apartment and furniture rent" ($600) and "car repair" ($180). He said that the Tisdale brothers had received $1,700 in cash and $1,300 in checks, two watches worth $200 each, meals and hotel rooms during a trip to Dallas for last year's Texas-Oklahoma football game and transportation home from that game on a private plane. He said that Wayman, whose nickname is Moose, also received a $3,150 gold-and-diamond pendant in the shape of a moose head.
Johnson said that all the athletes who dealt with Intersouth were aware of "the risks included for the schools and for themselves.... Believe me, all these players know that when they take money, there's a possibility they may be booted off the team."
Brent Barnes, who preceded Johnson as Intersouth's president and who is now unemployed, told Brubaker that Rhymes and other Sooners had entered into written contracts with him. Barnes said that in the summer of '84 he was approached by former Oklahoma assistant football coach Wendell Mosley, who "told me that three Oklahoma players—Buster, Danny and Keith [former Sooner strong safety Keith Stanberry]—already had signed contracts with another agent and they needed some money to get out of those contracts. I arranged a loan. Then Wendell brought me contracts and made me their agent."
Rhymes, who missed two Minnesota Vikings practices last week and was being evaluated for drug use, denied through his current agent, Ron Maniloff, that he had signed a contract with Intersouth. Maniloff also said, "Buster's not an accountant, but he's making a determination on the validity of the amounts and whether any funds were considered loans or gifts. If he owes any money, he will repay it."
Ross, Bradley and Stanberry have denied that they signed contracts with or borrowed money from Intersouth. Clark did not respond to a request for an interview. The Tisdales refused to comment. Mosley, who has left coaching and now is a schoolteacher in Miami, said he never mentioned money to anyone and that Barnes's description of the arrangement was "inaccurate.... Barnes approached me." Mosley said he was asked to "help in recruiting some athletes for an agent group. I decided to try to help them. I spoke to those players you mentioned and asked if they'd be interested in an agent."
The University of Oklahoma opened a probe after the athletes' names surfaced in the bank's lawsuit. Within the week, Oklahoma president Frank E. Horton is expected to report the school's findings—including handwriting analyses of the athletes' signatures, taken to determine if the signatures on the contracts are forgeries—to the Big Eight Conference. If violations of NCAA rules are proved, Oklahoma may forfeit last year's conference championships in football and basketball.