SI Vault
Edited by Alexander Wolff and Christian Stone
February 27, 1995
Whistled for Violations
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February 27, 1995


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Mascot Mayhem
When California's Oski the Bear savaged Stanford's Tree during a men's basketball game last week, it marked the umpteenth time in less than two years that mascot behavior has strayed from the cartoon-cute into something more sinister. Oski and the Tree, who could face criminal charges, join this list from the police blotter of the Mascotland Gazette:



Regrettable Incident

Sir Slapshot

Atlanta Knights

Clobbered by Don Jackson, coach of IHL's Cincinnati Cyclones, after hurling himself against glass behind Cyclone bench.

The Hawk

St. Joseph's

Has traded blows with mascots from rival Philly schools; most recently cited for unruly behavior after fracas with Temple Owl.


Miami Heat

Fined $300 by Puerto Rican judge after being cited for dragging woman onto court to dance during preseason game in San Juan.


South Carolina State

Flattened Jackson State counterpart, the Tiger, after numerous incursions by Tiger onto South Carolina State side of field.

Wilbur the Wildcat


Undenvent knee surgery after tussle with Arkansas mascot (see below) at 1994 Final Four.

The Hog


Undenvent knee surgery after tussle with Auburn mascot during '94 Razorback-Tiger football game.

Hoops I

Washington Bullets

Attempted bludgeoning of 13-year-old with plastic baseball bat made courtside iiberpest Robin Ficker seem civil.

Schottzie II

Cincinnati Reds

Pet of Red matriarch Marge Schott often left calling card on field, in stadium elevator and in front office.

Slapshot the Pack

New Jersey Devils

Did permanent stint in penalty box after being accused of fondling female fans at Meadowlands Arena.

Whistled for Violations

The NBA is loath to talk about it, but the league office is concerned about an Internal Revenue Service tax-fraud investigation believed to involve at least 35 current or former NBA referees. According to a report in The Oregonian on Feb. 12, the probe is focusing on whether refs paid taxes on any gains they may have realized by cashing in first-class airline tickets bought at the league's expense, and then traveling on a cheaper fare or a frequent-flier award. The investigation is in its early stages, and the IRS's vetting of expense records might result only in civil actions against the referees. But that still means more than two thirds of the NBA's 52-man officiating corps might have to pay overdue taxes, penalties, interest and legal fees, a daunting prospect for refs who earn as little as $68,000 a year.

Even a resolution that stopped short of criminal charges would be enough to give the NBA the heebee-jeebies. No sports league, pro or college, wants even the appearance that its game officials are under any kind of financial pressure. "The job of refereeing is tough enough without any of this," one league executive said last week. "We worry about the integrity of the game, and we worry about maintaining the appearance of integrity."

The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show outdrew the ESPYs, the annual ESPN awards show, in the ratings last week. We're not sure what that means, except that next year ESPN might want to consider replacing jowly and cuddly host John Goodman with a Saint Bernard.

Two Clothes a Call
The usual protocol for players on NBA injured lists is simple: You show up in mufti for home games and sit on the bench. But what happens if two disabled players wear almost exactly the same thing—as Derrick Coleman and Sean Higgins did for the New Jersey Nets' game against the Charlotte Hornets at the Meadowlands Arena last week? Each came in black corduroy slacks and a $400 Coogi multicolored sweater that appeared to have been designed at a state fair spin-art booth. "They looked like twins," said New Jersey coach Butch Beard.

Did either say to the other, "Well, one of us is going to have to go home and change"? Uh, no. Coleman and Higgins holed up in the locker room and watched the game on TV—vanity particularly surprising from Coleman, who earlier this season offered Beard a blank check for the fines he would incur for his flouting of the Nets' dress code on road trips.

Redman Blues

The latest regrettable college recruiting tale involves Chris Redman, the quarterback at Louisville's Male High who threw a national high school record 57 touchdown passes last season and was named Parade's Player of the Year. With his eye on a career in the NFL, Chris wanted to enroll at a college whose coach was familiar with the pro passing game. Thus his first choice was to stay home and play for Louisville and coach Howard Schnellenberger, who helped develop Jim Kelly, Bernie Kosar, Vinny Testaverde, Browning Nagle and Jeff Brohm. But Schnellenberger bolted for Oklahoma on Dec. 16, and Chris said no thanks to new Cardinal coach Ron Cooper. Instead he signed with Illinois, mainly because he liked Greg Landry, the Illini offensive coordinator, who had played quarterback on three NFL teams.

But on Feb. 3, the day after signing Chris, Illini coach Lou Tepper fired Landry. Chris's father and high school coach, Bob, went to Champaign to accuse Illinois of dealing in bad faith and to ask for his son's release from his letter of intent. Tepper agreed. But even with a release the Collegiate Commissioners Association, which administers letters of intent, will require Chris to sit out next season at whatever school he chooses, thus leaving him with only three years of eligibility. That's because the CCA continues to quixotically believe that recruits choose a school for reasons other than who the coach is.

Tepper, trying to save face, called a Champaign radio talk show on Feb. 16 to say that he and the Redmans will appeal to the CCA for restoration of that lost year of eligibility. Out of fairness and in light of Illinois's apparent bad faith, the CCA should agree to allow Chris to reenter the recruiting process. (High school seniors have until April 1 to sign and be eligible next fall.) But Chris won't want to get his hopes up. The CCA turned down transfer appeals from Providence basketball players when Rick Pitino left for the New York Knicks, from Iowa basketball players when Lute Olson departed for Arizona and from Miami football players when Jimmy Johnson lit out for the Dallas Cowboys.

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