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STOP THE PRESSES
When Pocket Books said last week that it was scrapping plans to publish Personal Fouls, the book about North Carolina State's basketball program that had been anticipated with dread on that school's campus (SI, Jan. 30), North Carolina attorney general Lacy Thornburg hailed the decision as "a victory not just for North Carolina State University, but for truth generally." It may not have been either.
Pocket, a division of Simon & Schuster, said only that author Peter Golenbock's manuscript did not meet its publishing standards, but presumably the company feared libel suits. According to a proof of the book's dust jacket obtained by the Raleigh News and Observer in January, Golenbock's book, subtitled The Broken Promises and Shattered Dreams of Big Money Basketball at Jim Valvano's North Carolina State, alleged that during Valvano's tenure as coach large sums of money had been given to players, positive drug tests covered up and grades altered. Valvano denied the charges, and questions have been raised about the thoroughness of Golenbock's research. In a Jan. 10 letter to Simon & Schuster, Thornburg warned that publishing allegations such as those on the dust jacket would be grounds for a libel suit if proven false.
But Thornburg shouldn't crow too loudly about Simon & Schuster's decision. Personal Fouls had a large advance order before the plug was pulled and may yet be published by another company. And the dust jacket allegations have spawned investigations of Valvano's program by at least three bodies: an internal N.C. State panel, the NCAA and a state university system commission, which has enlisted the help of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (NCSBI).
John A. Simonds Jr., the former student manager of the Wolfpack basketball team and one of Golenbock's sources, says that he recently has been interviewed at length by NCAA and NCSBI investigators, who asked him about a number of specific instances of alleged wrongdoing at N.C. State. "I'm willing to stand at the top of the tallest building and tell this story," said Simonds. "I know what the truth is."
Sources have told SI that Valvano has quietly been looking into the possibility of moving to the Los Angeles Clippers as coach and/or general manager. Valvano's agent, Art Kaminsky, says that he and Valvano have had no contact with the Clippers, but a spokesman for Clipper owner Donald Sterling said Valvano has had "exploratory" discussions with Sterling since early February. Two other sources say Kaminsky has also discussed with Sterling Valvano's possible hiring. In any case, it would appear that the book is not yet closed on Personal Fouls.
HYPE GOES TO WAR
Military imagery—bombs, attacks, gunners and so on—has long been a part of the language of sports, but in three recent cases it has been taken to inexcusable extremes. Promoters of the June 12 rematch between Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns—a fight billed as The War—sought to enliven a Leonard-Hearns press conference in Las Vegas by showing footage of storm troopers goose-stepping into Poland during World War II. A foldout ad for Maxfli golf balls in the Jan. 27 issue of Golf World magazine featured a group of PGA Tour pros dressed as commandos and bearing bullet-laden bandoliers, hand grenades and machine pistols. And at Oxon Hill (Md.) High, the football coach, Michael Pearson, was put on administrative leave after several of his defensive standouts gathered to pose for a photo—apparently envisioned as a "top guns" publicity poster—with a machine pistol, a bayonet and an assault rifle. An Oxon High spokesman said the weapons were confiscated by security personnel before any pictures of players were taken, and Pearson has refused to comment on the case.
TAKING A STAND
In late January two amateur hockey teams in Montreal, Notre Dame de la Consolata and F�d�ration sportive olympique 49, engaged in a 20-minute bench-clearing brawl, during which police were called in. Last week officials of the Quebec Ice Hockey Federation suspended all of the players on both teams for the remainder of this season and all of next season.