Tick, Tick, Tick...
Thanks to "60 Minutes," time's running out for Pat Dye
The noose that for months has been drawing tighter around Auburn football coach Pat Dye (SI, Oct. 7 et seq.) tightened even more on Sunday when CBS's 60 Minutes aired portions of conversations secretly tape-recorded by former Tiger defensive back Eric Ramsey. The material presented by 60 Minutes was not the bombshell that had been promised for months by Ramsey and his attorney, Donald Watkins; in fact, the substance of Ramsey's conversations with Dye, several Auburn assistant coaches and a booster had already been reported by The Montgomery Advertiser and The Birmingham News. Nevertheless, the tapes appeared to confirm widespread wrongdoing at Auburn, and their airing on a program with a huge national audience will put greater pressure on the NCAA and the school to take action.
Dye's lawyer, Sam Franklin, had tried to minimize the impact of Ramsey's tapes by suggesting that they might have been doctored. However, 60 Minutes said that it had hired a forensic audio specialist who examined 15 complete conversations that Ramsey had recorded and found that they had not been altered. The tapes played on the program indicated that Auburn assistants and a booster, Bill (Corky) Frost, had made payments to Ramsey in violation of NCAA rules.
One of the tapes contained a conversation from the spring of 1990 between Ramsey and Dye. Ramsey is heard telling Dye that he had been having financial difficulties and that then assistant coach Frank Young had "helped me out a little bit." Dye was silent. Ramsey is also heard asking for Dye's help in obtaining a loan, and Dye replies, "Let me see what [pause] what I can do." 60 Minutes produced documentation that Ramsey subsequently received a $9,000 loan from the Colonial Bank in Auburn. Watkins told 60 Minutes that the bank had rejected three previous applications by Ramsey for such a loan. Dye is on the board of the company that owns Colonial.
Under NCAA rules, athletes cannot receive special help in such matters as obtaining loans. Last October, Dye told SI that Ramsey and his wife had asked him to arrange a loan but that when he called the president of Colonial on the Ramseys' behalf, he warned him not to loan them "anything above" what the bank's rules allow. "If that's arranging a loan, I arranged him a loan," Dye said. Whatever the truth of Dye's account, it can be argued that by merely making the call, he was extending a benefit to Ramsey not available to ordinary students.
Even before the 60 Minutes broadcast, enough evidence had come to light to indicate that Dye, who is also Auburn's athletic director, had run a lax program. What the TV report dramatically provided was the same evidence in Dye's own voice.
—DOUGLAS S. LOONEY
Youngstown State's win warms a lot of hearts
What happened last Saturday afternoon on a football field in Statesboro, Ga., won't cause the steel mills to open again in Youngstown, Ohio, nor will it stop all the mean jokes about how boring life must be there. But it did give the million or so residents of the Youngstown area an early and beautifully wrapped Christmas present: the NCAA Division I-AA championship, which the Penguins of Youngstown State won by beating Marshall 25-17. "We're so excited for our community," said Penguin coach Jim Tressel. "I know they're celebrating back in Youngstown, because I can hear 'em."