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Robert H. Boyle
March 04, 1957
A new, explosive scandal threatens as reports of excessive gambling sideline a Missouri Valley Conference referee
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March 04, 1957

Basketball: The Fix Again?

A new, explosive scandal threatens as reports of excessive gambling sideline a Missouri Valley Conference referee

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E: It was smart to take John out of there, in fairness to the conference.... I think the accusations are false because I just have all faith in the officials, that is the reason I work with them.... I thought it would be good for his own benefit not to work on Saturday or Monday in fairness to him and because of all these accusations going around.

B: Would you let Fraser referee another conference game now if he wasn't sick?

E: Yes, I would let him referee if he wasn't sick.

This, of course, is in contradiction to the assurances given Dr. Corbin and Father Reinert.

Fraser has been in trouble before in his career as a basketball referee. His difficulties began with the Big Ten Conference, to which he filed an application for appointment in April 1953. He gave his age as 39, his height as 6 feet 1 inch, his weight as 197 pounds and his occupation as construction worker.

In the spring of 1956 Big Ten officials were told by friends of gamblers that Fraser had "influenced" a game. These officials were "unable to check out" the allegations, but admit they took the tips seriously enough so that they shed no tears when Fraser left their roster of referees.

When Fraser applied for the Big Ten job, he cited as character reference Arthur Eilers, and he now gave his full attention to the Missouri Valley Conference job. It was the responsibility of Big Ten officials to pass along the allegations about Fraser, and this responsibility was assumed by Walt Byers, NCAA Executive Director in Kansas City. Asked this week by SPORTS ILLUSTRATED what he had told Eilers about Fraser and what had been Eilers' reaction, Mr. Byers declined to comment.

In any case, Fraser has been regularly employed last year and this by the Missouri Valley Conference as one of its top referees.

The allegation now made by gamblers is that eight games in which Fraser worked were "fixed" at the behest of a betting ring (a ninth failed). These games are described in detail in the box on the opposite page.

In the 1951 basketball scandals the fixes were effected by players. But a referee can also influence the "point spread" in a game, which is the margin of victory. Basketball betting is widespread on a basis of the point spread. In any given game, team A is made a favorite by the bookies to win by a specific margin. The spread is principally determined by the team's logical chances and also by the flow of money wagered. If you bet on team A which is favored to win with a point spread of minus-8, this means that your team A has to win by at least 9 points. Obviously, a dishonest referee can win a bet for someone else by unfairly calling fouls and violations on one side so that the point spread is affected.

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