My dream job. If a rival hadn’t put us out of business, I’d still be at the Herald because, in my mind working as a reporter was/is noble. My goal was always getting to the story, whatever it happened to be, and reporting it as accurately and as interestingly as possible, then moving on to the next story.

SMU Pay for Play Scandal.

My involvement in the SMU pay-for-play scandal began as a reporter supporting two other writers, including the great sports investigative reporter Danny Robbins. I took over as the SMU beat writer, and my responsibility was to cover the school’s athletic department — football, basketball, “secondary sports” like track and field and soccer, and women’s teams.

But it was impossible not to cross over into the investigative side of things. Over time I assumed the lead investigative role and followed the story to its ultimate conclusion, when the NCAA levied its so-called Death Penalty because of SMU’s continued rules violations. To this day, SMU is the only university to have received the ultimate penalty.

SMU Death Penalty

I broke nearly ALL of the stories leading up to, during, and after the second scandal at SMU developed. Except for one.

It was late, after a practice, and I was standing in front of SMU’s Ownby Stadium talking with linebacker David Stanley, one of the players who was still being paid. I knew what was going on and was ready to break the story, but Stanley refused to “go on the record” or even collaborate “off the record” because he wanted to be paid for the story.

I did not pay sources. The Times Herald did not pay for stories. I walked away, disappointed but determined to find another way to get the story into the paper. I never got the chance. Stanley told his story to Channel 8, a Dallas TV station; to this day I suspect David Stanley got the payday he asked me for.

Nonetheless, I broke the story that the NCAA was shutting down the SMU football program for repeated rules violations. My pursuit and line of questioning forced then Texas Governor William Clements, who sat on SMU’s board of trustees, to admit he and others had okayed continued payments to the players. I also exposed the booster-led “slush fund” used to pay athletes.

More to Come.

Texas Rangers and MLB. The Dallas Cowboys and the NFL. More colleges: OU, the Southwest Conference, the NCAA. World championship boxing.

Images coming.