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It wasn't until he had All-America honors, a ticket to the NFL and a diploma in hand that Clarkston Hines felt free to buck what he felt was an oppressive system at Duke University.

A wide receiver on Duke's football team, Hines and his teammates had mailboxes in Duke's football office for mail addressed to them through that office.``It was football-related mail,' Hines said when reached by phone Tuesday at home in Chapel Hill. ``A lot of it was fan mail.'

Some of it was from prospective agents who sought to represent an All-America player in the months before Sunday's National Football League draft.

As his senior season unfolded, Hines became aware that some of the mail addressed to him had been opened.

``I wasn't the only one,' Hines said. ``It had happened to all the senior players for several years. We expected mail to be delayed or opened before we got it.'

The players were aware that some of their mail was being inspected by the three-man Duke Student Athlete Counseling Committee in an effort to screen prospective agents and discourage unscrupulous ones.

Hines said he resented the practice. He resented it to the extent that he chose to select an agent without the assistance of a committee that operated in such a way.

``Usually, the agent's name was on the envelope. But there were instances when I got fan letters - from lawyers, for example - and the mail was opened. None of it was personal because I got that mail at home.

``I didn't like it. But when you're dealing with a big university like Duke, you don't want to make waves, at least not until you graduate.

``I graduated in December, so now I don't mind talking about it.'

Hines said he felt unwanted pressure from the committee to enlist its support in contracting an agent.

``Having my mail opened caused me to lose respect for the group that was doing it. Then, if they hadn't given me a hard time about using the committee, I would have kept quiet.'

Although reports indicated that coaches and secretaries assisted committee member Jeff Potter in re-routing players' mail, Hines said he didn't believe Blue Devil coaches approved of the practice.

``I know (former head football coach) Steve Spurrier didn't like it, but he put up with it because he didn't want agents contacting us during the season. Coach (Barry) Wilson told me it would never happen again. And I know (basketball coach Mike) Krzyzewski would lose his mind if he found out about it.'

Hines will enter Sunday's NFL draft with an agent of his choosing. He is Harold Daniels of Los Angeles, who also represents such pro standouts as running back Tim Worley (Pittsburgh Steelers), receiver Drew Hill (Houston Oilers) and nose guard Tim Krumrie (Cincinnati Bengals).


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