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The Reverend John Lo Schiavo, S.J., the 57-year-old president of the University of San Francisco, was grim and purposeful as he stepped to the microphones in University Center last Thursday morning. Because of preliminary news reports, everyone knew what Lo Schiavo was about to say—that the school was dropping basketball—but there was a certain drama in waiting for him to say it. The University of San Francisco, the Dons: the school that won two consecutive NCAA championships and 60 consecutive games from 1954 to 1956 and 15 West Coast Athletic Conference championships overall, including five in the last six years. The alma mater of Bill Russell, K.C. Jones, Bill Cartwright—and Quintin Dailey. By pleading guilty last June to aggravated assault of a USF coed the previous December, the All-America guard precipitated a chain of events that led to an unrelated university investigation that was now about to bring nearly 60 years of victory crashing down.
From start to finish, the Dailey case has revealed shocking conditions at the university: a kid-glove attitude toward basketball players, a sloppy Public Safety (campus police) operation and an administration that's slow to react or inexcusably ignorant. Lo Schiavo didn't even know that Dailey, the star of the team, was suspected of assault with intent to commit rape until a month after the incident occurred in a dormitory across a walk from his office.
At the press conference Father Lo Schiavo began by saying, "The Board of Trustees of the University of San Francisco decided yesterday that the men's intercollegiate Division I basketball program at USF should and will be discontinued. Anyone who is familiar with this institution and its proud history will understand what a painful decision this is. In all the circumstances, however, the Board had no other responsible choice. The circumstances centrally involve problems with the basketball program which have been plaguing us and which the university has been unsuccessfully trying to solve for many years. Those problems have put us in the position of defending ourselves before the NCAA Committee on Infractions twice in the past few years. The price the university has had to pay for those problems has been much greater than the heavy financial price. There is no way of measuring the damage that has been done to the university's most priceless assets, its integrity and its reputation."
Standing next to Lo Schiavo and looking downcast was Frank D. (Sandy) Tatum Jr., a senior partner of Cooley, Godward, Castro, Huddleson and Tatum, which, as general counsel to the university, conducted the in-house investigation that brought about the unprecedented decision to discontinue basketball. The investigation resulted from Dailey's surprising revelation in a probation officer's report, made public on June 26, that he had received $1,000 a month last summer for a no-show job with Electric Supply of Salinas, Calif. The owner is J. Luis Zabala, a former president of the Century Club, a booster organization for USF basketball, and brother of Father Albert Zabala, S.J., associate professor of theology at USF. The Zabala family has been a major non-sports donor to the school for years.
There had also been charges that USF had acted illegally in recruiting two high school players. Dailey himself added fuel to the fire when he said that he had received about $5,000 in checks from Zabala's company, beginning just before Christmas 1980 and ending last Christmas (SCORECARD, July 26). At that time Dailey implicated USF Coach Peter Barry in one of the payments and said that on another occasion Barry had given him $200 in an envelope to pay a car-rental bill.
Lo Schiavo mentioned no names or specific sums in his announcement. Of the Zabala-Dailey connection he simply said, "An alumnus, for whose actions the NCAA holds the university responsible, has paid money on numerous occasions to an enrolled student athlete who did no work for it." Later, when asked privately how much Zabala had given Dailey, Lo Schiavo said, "We're not sure, different figures have been given." Why did Zabala give Dailey the money? "I can't get inside Mr. Zabala's head," Lo Schiavo said. "I'm convinced that Mr. Zabala is only one of a lot of people out there who simply believe that you can't compete effectively without cheating. So they look at a university that wants to abide by the rules as naive, and they just want to go on doing what they want to do." Did Coach Barry give Dailey any money? Barry denied Dailey's charge to SI and told the school's investigators that he had never given or arranged payments to any players while he was the coach. But the investigators never asked either Barry or Dailey about Dailey's specific charge.
On another matter, Father Lo Schiavo announced, "Arrangements were made for another alumnus to pay high school tuition for a high school student being recruited. It should be emphasized that the high school student was and is totally innocent; he knew nothing about the matter." The high school student, who recently graduated, is Paul Fortier, a 6'9" center-forward from St. Ignatius, a Jesuit high school in San Francisco, who will now play at Washington. The alumnus who paid the tuition was a USF booster. No other examples of illegality were cited in the report.
Father Lo Schiavo continued at his press conference, "The basketball program at the University of San Francisco was once a source of inspiration, respect and pride for this university and city; that tradition adds to the sadness engendered by what it has now become. Because of it, we have now been perceived as being hypocritical or naive or inept or duplicitous, or perhaps some combination of all those. We have even had to suffer the accusation that we attempted to obstruct justice in order to protect a basketball player and preserve him for the team. However unjust those perceptions are—and they are grossly unjust—everyone who cares about USF must recognize that those perceptions have developed as a product of the basketball program. We have no responsible choice but to rid the university of the burden of them. All the legitimate purposes of an athletic program in an educational institution are being distorted by the basketball program as it has developed."
To those familiar with the situation at USF and the man who made the decision, Lo Schiavo's action shouldn't have been so surprising. Twice during his tenure, the NCAA had put USF on probation. Coach Bob Gaillard resigned in 1978 while the first NCAA investigation was under way; his successor, Dan Belluomini, was fired in 1980 as the result of an in-house inquiry. In appointing Barry before the 1980-81 season, Lo Schiavo had once again insisted upon a clean program. So the disclosure involving Dailey and Zabala was all it took for Lo Schiavo to make his decision. According to attorney Dan Johnson, a partner in the firm that conducted the investigation for the university, "As a practical matter, everyone should have understood that if there were other violations, Father Lo Schiavo was going to terminate the program."
Thus, Lo Schiavo became the first university administrator ever to take such punitive action against a major sport because of NCAA violations. His decision was applauded by such noted college coaches as Bobby Knight, Dean Smith and Joe Paterno (see SCORECARD, page 9). Barry said the action "seemed unfair," and there was stronger criticism by the commissioner of the WCAC and by certain supporters of the program.