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NCAA Is Guarding Our Land, Leaving No Ticket Unturned

September 08, 1986|MIKE DOWNEY

Case No. 1986NCAA1: Cornelius H. is a white pale Caucasian, 19 years old, 6 feet 5 inches, 275 pounds, born and raised in Lincoln, Neb., red hair, red mustache, red zits, bloodshot eyes, hair cut short, neck like a fire hydrant.

The charge: On or about Sept. 1, 1986, Cornelius H., a football player for the University of Nebraska, did with pre-meditation distribute four tickets to the Florida State football game to his dentist, his math tutor, a Girl Scout selling cookies and his geeky cousin from Omaha.

The arrest: Apprehended by NCAA police at a campus malt shop, without incident.

The plea: Guilty as charged.

The sentence: To be suspended until dead.

Case No. 1986NCAA2: Al B. is a black Afro-American, 21 years old, 6 feet 3 inches, 230 pounds, born and raised in Tuscaloosa, Ala., long red scar, no neck whatsoever, last seen wearing red sweater, red pants, red shoes, and Bear Bryant souvenir houndstooth hat.

The charge: On Labor Day of this year, witnesses reported seeing Al. B., a fullback for the University of Alabama football team, accepting Greyhound bus fare from an assistant football coach, in an amount believed to be upwards of $20, to go home for a family emergency..

The arrest: When confronted by NCAA police, Al B. fled across an open field, took 10 steps, cut across the middle, broke loose in the flat and ran to daylight before being intercepted by NCAA squad cars.

The plea: Guilty as charged.

The sentence: Eleven weeks at hard labor, anywhere but on a football field.

Case No. 1986NCAA3: Steve A. is an extremely white Caucasian, 22 years old, 6 feet 2 inches, 165 pounds, born and raised in New Castle, Ind., tousled hair, floppy socks, old smelly sneakers, rampant freckles, missing front teeth.

The charge: In the winter of 1985, without provocation, Steve A., a basketball player for Indiana University, did, without permission, pose for a Hoosier Hunks pinup calendar, the proceeds of which allegedly were to be donated to needy orphans, Christian charities, earthquake victims and starving people everywhere.

The arrest: Cornered by NCAA police, Steve A. pleaded with officers not to shoot, and attempted to persuade him to drop all charges because (ha) he didn't know he had done anything wrong.

The plea: Not guilty.

The sentence: Death by expulsion.

These and many other documented cases come directly from the files of the National Collegiate Athletic Assn., an independent governing body dedicated to maintaining truth, justice, and various and assorted ridiculously arbitrary bylaws distantly related to scholastic sports.

We spoke with NCAA special investigator Hunt M. Down, who told us of several other imminent crackdowns by his organization on American universities.

"For several weeks now," he said, "we have been checking into anonymous phone tips that a certain football player at the University of Pittsburgh, without receiving prior approval, presented two season tickets to his father as a Father's Day gift.

"Since that time, this individual has discovered that he was adopted at six months of age and that his father is, in reality, a foster parent. And, as you know, football tickets given to foster parents can result in the immediate suspension of the athlete and as many as 15 years' probation for the university.

"We at the NCAA also have been examining reports concerning the head coach of the University of Illinois, who, according to witness depositions, personally allowed several of his players to watch a movie on HBO, a pay-TV network. NCAA rules specifically prohibit college students from watching anything but free-TV, and we are therefore considering placing the Illini on probation for the rest of their natural lives.

"An unprecedented and possibly the saddest scandal we have uncovered in years, though, came to our attention recently on a chance visit to Harvard University, where the student body has been celebrating the school's 350th anniversary.

"It seems that Harvard football players, encouraged by a campus newspaper, have decided not to sell or to freely distribute tickets to their games, but to actually pay students to see them play.

"Harvard players reportedly have been offering as much as $100 per ticket to any student willing to take a game ticket off their hands and actually sit through an entire Ivy League game.

"Well, we had no precedent for this in our NCAA guidelines. We had penalties galore for athletes who accepted money or favors in exchange for tickets, but never before had we been faced with a situation in which football players bribed classmates to attend their games.

"I personally went to Harvard's season opener to see if I could get a clue as to how to handle this matter, but the game was so awful, I barely made it to halftime. As a team, I must admit that Harvard fought fiercely, but I am afraid that I have seen more honest-to-God football talent at grammar schools.

"So, what to do?

"I checked with my superiors at the NCAA, and together we decided to place Harvard on probation for the next three weeks, just on general principles. We had the power, we figured, so why not use it?

"In weeks to come, we plan to cancel several teams' football schedules entirely, just by virtue of their bad play, and are considering burning Northwestern to the ground. We can do it, too. We're the NCAA."

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