BACK TO YOU, BLUMEL
Yet another West Coast school, Portland State University, is the scene of a scandal involving bogus credits for athletes, but the PSU case has some unusual wrinkles. After conducting an investigation ordered by president Joseph Blumel, George Hoffmann, dean in the Department of Social Sciences, has found instances of fraudulent and questionable transcripts and kickbacks during the tenure of Ken Edwards, who had a 96-63 record as basketball coach from 1972 to 1978. His players included Freeman Williams, now with San Diego in the NBA, who twice won the NCAA scoring title. "The academic record of basketball players under Coach Edwards is dismal," Hoffmann's report to Blumel says. "It appears that in recruiting, little attention was paid to the academic qualifications of prospective players."
Absolutely right on, Edwards, now the coach at West Texas State, told Floyd Schneidermann of the Oregon Journal. "It irks me that the school has had to stage this thing now, because they knew all about it in 1975 or 1976 when it was happening," he says. "In addition, I have witnesses that know that Joe Blumel approved some grades for a kid who never enrolled in summer school. He went along with things—everybody did.
" Portland State is talking about kickbacks, but I want to make it clear that nothing ever went to Coach Edwards. I'll tell you what I did. I got aid money for some kids who couldn't play a lick, and I asked them to divide some of that aid money with other players who weren't getting enough. But I also never gave any player anything over what the NCAA allowed." (Dean Hoffmann agrees, saying. "I would bet my last buck that not one cent went into Ken's pocket.")
But Edwards has more to say: "When Portland State hired me in 1972, they knew they were getting Jerry Tarkanian's 28-year-old former assistant, and they told me I had to do the job—win—or get fired. In fact, in informal conversations, I was told that virtually everything I did was O.K.
"Sure," Edwards continues, "I advised kids how to cope with the grades and aid situations. I know that I could go down and get a transcript from the office, and I could change it. They didn't have any security on that kind of thing, and they had a secretary take care of all the eligibility stuff. I took the players that no one else wanted because I never had more than three scholarships, and I tried to keep my promises to the kids. If I told a player he had a full ride, and it didn't come through, sure, I made it up somehow.
"What really got to me finally was that one of the administrative people, who is still at Portland State, told me, 'I don't care how you do it, but I'd like to see some more white kids out on the floor.' With three scholarships to give out, I had only one choice: I had to bring in kids who were poor and belonged to minorities. Well, which minority plays basketball?"
Every fan knows of Sadaharu Oh, the Japanese slugger who has hit more hommas than Hank Aaron ever did. Now let's have a neighborly round of applause for a Canadian, Dave Cutler of the Edmonton Eskimos. In a Canadian Football League game against Ottawa, last week. Cutler kicked his 336th field goal, topping by one the record set by George Blanda of the NFL. "If Blanda had seen it, he would've been upset," said Cutler. "It just sort of wobbled through."
Blanda was 48 years old when he kicked his last field goal, but Cutler, who, like Blanda, is a straight-on kicker, is only 34. He has been with the Eskimos 12 years, following graduation from Simon Fraser University near Vancouver, where he played linebacker. But on the Eskimos the 5'10" Cutler is considered too valuable to risk as a linebacker, which he would love to be, so he refers to himself as "JAK," for "just a kicker."