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A big scandal is making black headlines in the newspapers of Illinois. It seems that the auditor of the Prairie State, an elective officer, has managed to get $875,000 worth of state checks cashed for his personal benefit at the Southmoor Bank and Trust Co. of Chicago. The auditor, a man named Orville E. Hodge, has resigned from his office and is now explaining his alleged peculations to federal, state and county investigating agencies. Another man who resigned from his job when the ugly headlines had spoken was Edward A. Hintz, president of the Southmoor Bank and the man who authorized these transactions, knowing full well that some $356,000 worth of the dealings were at least highly irregular. This is important to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED and its readers because President Hintz is the same Ed Hintz who, as one of the official judges, ruled that Johnny Saxton had beaten Carmen Basilio in their 15-round welterweight championship bout at the Chicago Stadium (SI, March 26), a decision which returned the championship to hoodlum control and was so foul as a piece of judging that it momentarily nosed out the stockyards as Chicago's most odoriferous wonder. Boxing Commissioner Lou Radzienda endorsed the decision of his appointed judge, and his friend, Truman K. Gibson Jr., secretary of the International Boxing Club (James D. Norris, president), cited Hintz's business rectitude as evidence of his basic honesty.
Another name familiar to the readers of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S continuing boxing expose has also popped up in Auditor Hodge's fiscal fantasy. It is Arthur Wirtz, a director of the IBC and longtime business partner of Norris.
Here is how Arthur Wirtz enters the case. (It may sound complicated at first, but don't leave.) Some time back, Auditor Hodge, who is the regulator of all state banks, ordered the First State Bank of Elmwood Park to close its doors, claiming he had found irregularities in its loan policies. This seemed like a good deed on the part of the state auditor until it was revealed that he had subsequently and secretly acquired 11,165 shares (or more than one-third) of the stock of the bank after it reopened. As if this were not scandal enough, no one knew quite what to think when it turned out that Arthur M. Wirtz had anted up a cool $301,455 to buy Orville Hodge's embarrassing block of stock in the First State Bank of Elmwood Park after Hodge had come under fire for irregularities in the auditor's office. It is only a detail that this transaction seemingly gave the harassed state auditor a profit of about $25,000.
Arthur Wirtz is a shrewd businessman, and he doubtless saw something pretty good that didn't meet the average eye when he snapped up the bank's stock. To boxing's long-suffering fans, what he saw is beside the point. At the moment about all they can say when they consider the actions of Hintz and Wirtz is, "Mighty peculiar."
Well, Hodge and Hintz are 'now in custody and under federal indictment on charges of conspiracy to mishandle bank funds. But there is still something mighty peculiar about the mess in Illinois. It is mighty peculiar that Illinois remains the only state of boxing's Big Four (New York, Pennsylvania, California are the other three) that has" done nothing to clean up boxing's dirty business which, it would seem, can penetrate deep into the vitals of state government.
GLASS HOUSE AND IVORY TOWER
In the most recent chapter of the hair-raising Pacific Coast Conference melodrama four California universities were threatening secession, angry rumbles were being exchanged between the governors of California and Oregon, and a rebel football government seemed on the verge of setting up shop in Sacramento under the protective wing of Governor Goodwin ( Jeff Davis) Knight. Knight, an honest, forthright man of even temper, was hopping mad. The fact that PCC fathers had barred USC and UCLA from Rose Bowl competition for two and three years respectively had raised the hackles on his red-blooded neck, and he said so. "Set up our own league," he screamed.
Knight wanted to take a wrecking crew and tear down every ivory tower in sight. The time for a realistic approach to athletic scholarships was at hand, he said, and Knight wanted to spearhead the attack. To the north, the loyalist leader, Oregon Governor Elmo Smith, assumed a most un-Lincolnesque attitude. "If California standards are incompatible with ours," said Governor Smith, "maybe they should pull out."
According to Knight, a former football player at Stanford in the pre-World War I days, it is the $75-a-month ceiling on athletic scholarships that is at fault. Obviously the people in the north were being unrealistic and secession was the only answer.