A WARNING TO COLLEGE ATHLETICS
There are grave lessons to be learned from the sadly mishandled case of John Fraser, the basketball referee whose "resignation" has just been accepted by the Missouri Valley Conference.
The MVC, after an investigation which was at first culpably perfunctory and only reluctantly undertaken, found that charges of "fixing" games, made by anonymous gamblers against Fraser, have not been proved. But it also found that Fraser has a criminal record and a current background of association with gamblers and undesirable elements.
It emerged that Fraser was indisputably a man who should never have been hired as a college referee. As far as citizenship and character are concerned, he no more Fitted the definition given by Asa Bushnell (see page 19) than the man in the moon.
These conferences hired a referee whose background they cannot have investigated. Their irresponsibility involves a threat of deadly import to college athletics in general, and the great and growing sport of basketball in particular.
Basketball has become so popular so fast, and so much money is being bet on it all over the country, that it is obvious that unless the game is rigidly administered and controlled by men of determination and integrity it will inevitably become smeared by scandals as terrible as those which almost killed the sport six years ago.
Mr. Bushnell points out that among the prime requisites of a college referee are "strength of character, good citizenship and unquestioned honesty." The Big Ten and MVC did not satisfy themselves on these points when they hired Fraser. When they discovered their mistake, there was forthcoming no note of righteous anger, but every evidence of a desire to avoid washing dirty linen in public and even an attempt to conceal the existence of the dirty linen.
Investigation was at first smothered; it became the intention to camouflage an overdue, outright dismissal as a discreet resignation.
A disagreeable chapter is now closed. It should be pondered by college officials everywhere in America.