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Locke went to the pros after Clemson, an experience he'd just as soon forget. Nor was he much happier at Jacksonville. Locke didn't cheat there, but he created controversy in other ways. He was too critical of the players in the press. He kept demanding improved facilities and a larger budget and he dated an undergraduate student while he and Nancy were separated. When he joined a team in a three-on-three league he was thrown out for fighting once again. The school ultimately demanded his resignation—"not because he wasn't coaching well," says Jacksonville Journal sports-writer Tom Corneilson, "but because his mouth overloaded his ass."
David Berst, the director of the NCAA's enforcement program, claims, "About 15% of the schools are cheating, and 85% are not." Of course, there are NCAA critics who claim there are as many schools out there cheating as the NCAA cares to investigate, or admits knowing about. Berst denies this, preferring to focus on the reason coaches cheat in the first place. "Cheating points at insecurity, a feeling that there's no other way to get ahead," he says. "Tates knowingly violated the rules. It's unfortunate he thought he had no alternative."
Even so, some people remain sympathetic toward Locke. Bo Hawkins, who chose Tates's first name for his son's middle name, says, "Somebody had to take the fall, and he was the man."
Locke, however, is beginning to see himself less and less as a scapegoat. "Bobby told me if I didn't want to cheat, I wouldn't have," he says. "I've thought about that, and he's right."
And now, at the Landmark Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Locke watches as Tarkanian, his assistants and a couple of visiting coaches celebrate a victory over Long Beach State. As always, Tates is thrilled "his" team won, but the high-roller party scene is still a bit hard for him to take. "In this town you have to be a winner," he says. "It doesn't matter if you're a good person. Being a good person doesn't even come fifth on the list."
The coaches drink and laugh and josh each other, and around them are the sounds of money in transit. But after a couple of beers and a few quarters in the poker machine Locke gets up to leave. "I love being around coaches," he says. "But after a point, I don't know...."
The part-time coach is separated from a lot of things he loves these days. The pain shows in his eyes and in the way he seeks solitude at times like this. When he is alone he can ponder his future and wonder about his past. And when he has the time, which is often, he runs.