Aggies' Slocum should cotton up to Holtz for advice on booster mess

December 27, 1992|By Dallas Morning News

DALLAS -- There was this fat-wallet booster who loved his old school, particularly the football stuff. And while he knew the rules, that still didn't deter Mr. Sis-Boom-Bah from making an illegal transaction involving blue-chip talent.

Then the newspaper people showed up. Big, ugly headlines.

Talk about scrambling the jets. Those seen reaching for parachutes were the school president, the AD and the football coach. Particularly the football coach. Always be prepared to bail out.

So what happened next?

Well, the school distanced itself from the booster and then attempted to convince the NCAA this was a rogue working his own beat. The wrath of the NCAA, of course, is reserved for "institutional involvement," meaning the activity was initiated or orchestrated from within the hallowed halls of the athletic offices at the university.

And if the NCAA buys the rogue story?

Then it's no biggie. Nothing happens to the school, the booster is publicly embarrassed, and the player is given a two-game suspension.

In fact, the coach for one of the Cotton Bowl teams can tell us all about it. Better yet, Notre Dame's Lou Holtz can tell Texas A&M's R. C. Slocum, who needs to know.

The Irish's Demetrius DuBose was caught holding a booster's money over the summer.

There you have it, R. C. If you need any advice on how to handle the technical aspects involving those published reports on your program, go right to Lou. Based on what is now known, the Aggies have a very similar situation.

Exactly how far did this old Dallas Aggie go? And if he ventured beyond NCAA rules, was he working alone in handing out checks to A&M football players?

Now there's a buzzword. Probably the best piece of evidence A&M has is the five Aggie players under question were paid, legally or otherwise, with checks.

If anyone in the A&M football department was involved in a payment scam with a Dallas booster, and he authorized checks to be used, then please remove that coach immediately from the streets of our state. This man needs to be locked away forever in a home for the terminally stupid.

Actually, as the Aggies and Irish gather in Dallas this week to prepare for the Cotton Bowl, Slocum's biggest problem at the moment seems to be one of image. That Jackie Sherrill cloud has resurfaced over the A&M program after Slocum had worked long and hard to remove it.

But again, if there was no "institutional involvement" then Slocum has no major problems.

For the Cotton Bowl, however, there are immediate headaches. This story will now dominate Slocum's week in Dallas.

To stay totally straight with the NCAA guidelines, Slocum almost had to suspend the players named, one of them being Greg Hill. Once suspended, the NCAA eligibility committee can make an immediate ruling on the players being reinstated for the Cotton Bowl even though the NCAA investigation will continue.

But, of course, this case goes beyond just another booster bagman slipping money to jocks. The feds are also on the scene, investigating exactly how a Dallas man, with close ties to A&M, spent government money on housing projects in the city. In time, all the evidence will be made public. This won't be a Jackie Sherrill-George Smith you-pick-the-liar contest.

And you can totally dismiss one other thing in this particular A&M story. Anyone who mentions "death penalty" possibilities for the Aggies should be assigned to the same home for football coaches who make illegal payments with checks. The "death penalty" is no more.

Once was more than enough. Southern Methodist University paid dearly as a whipping boy. But what happened at SMU also showed the NCAA honchos that the "death penalty" is not an answer to anything.

Since SMU, numerous schools have faced "death penalty" sanctions, but the Floridas, the Syracuses, the Kentuckys, etc., never came close to taking the big hit. It's silliness to even talk about it for A&M.

And besides, for what he faces, Slocum can learn more from Lou Holtz.

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