The ACC's early gains on its way toward becoming the nation's pre-eminent basketball conference were not achieved without more than a little pain.
By the early 1960s, the ACC's ``Big Four' schools in North Carolina had seen a series of on-court free-for-alls, a couple of NCAA probations and a prominent role in a nationwide point-shaving scandal.Two years before the league was formed in 1953, North Carolina had hired Frank McGuire away from St. John's for the primary purpose of challenging the domination that N.C. State coach Everett Case had maintained in the Southern Conference since the end of World War II. Wake Forest promoted Bones McKinney to compete with the other two. And by the end of the '50s, Duke lured Case assistant Vic Bubas into the fray.
The ACC wasn't very old when the highly emotional pitch of the Tobacco Road rivalries began to boil over into frequent fights that started with players and often sucked crowds into them.
``The rivalries couldn't have been any more bitter,' said Jackie Murdock, a Raleigh native who starred and later coached at Wake Forest. ``It seemed like everybody lived no more than a half-hour's drive from all four campuses. That's probably why the games and bragging rights meant a lot to people, and the players got caught up in it.
``We competed hard. It was a pressure-packed atmosphere, and sometimes it crossed the line.'\ \ Come out fighting\ There was a cultural explanation for at least part of the friction, according to Billy Packer, the longtime college basketball TV analyst who played at Wake Forest in the early '60s and also served as an assistant coach at his alma mater. ``There's no question that there was friction and animosity between the coaches and players from up north and the Southern players and older fans,' Packer said. ``Jackie Murdock epitomized that attitude as much as anybody. He was a fierce competitor, and he felt that the influx of Northern players at the time was invading his territory.'
UNC's McGuire became a lightning rod for much of the friction that surrounded ACC basketball from the late 1950s until his abrupt departure in the summer of '61 to coach the NBA's Philadelphia Warriors. The turbulence surrounding McGuire seemed to increase after he guided the Tar Heels to a 32-0 record and the NCAA championship in '57.
``McGuire conveyed the impression that he put himself above everybody else,' said Marvin ``Skeeter' Francis, Wake Forest's sports information director in those years. 'He was a big-city guy with the tailored suit, cuff links and that square handkerchief in the breast pocket. I touched his sleeve once, and he said, 'Don't touch the suit.' '
A hint of the problems to come surfaced as early as 1954. In the State-Carolina game at UNC's Woollen Gym that year, officials Lou Bello and Dallas Shirley managed to maintain a semblance of control by whistling 74 personal fouls on the players and three technicals on McGuire. By game's end, spectators were throwing paper, fruit and combs onto the court.
In the first ACC Tournament, at Reynolds Coliseum, State attempted to freeze the ball at the end of a close quarterfinal game against UNC. Fans again bombarded the court with trash, and Carolina's Gerry McCabe tackled State's Dave Gotkin with eight seconds to play. Gotkin threw the ball at McCabe's face, drawing a technical that nearly cost the Wolfpack its 52-51 win.
Most observers insist, however, that the Case-McGuire ``feud' was overblown by the media and the public. Bucky Waters, who played under Case, is one of them.
``I think they got along fine,' Waters said of the two coaches. ``But it was a little bit like a pro wrestling rivalry.
``You have to remember that they still felt a need to promote their programs and college basketball in those years. When they disagreed publicly, didn't shake hands with each other and appeared not to get along, it was good for business. But it probably charged the atmosphere beyond a healthy point.'
Several other incidents took place around the ACC before one was serious enough to prompt punitive action from Commissioner Jim Weaver.
In a game in Chapel Hill in February 1956, UNC's Joe Quigg and Wake Forest's Jim Gilley tripped over each other's feet at midcourt. Fans immediately swarmed the floor and fights broke out. Among the players who squared off and fought were Bob Cunningham of Carolina and Bill Tucker of Wake Forest.
Even though McGuire apologized to Wake's players and coaches in the dressing room, Weaver, who had been Wake Forest's athletics director before he was named to the ACC post, reviewed film of the incident and suspended Cunningham and Tucker for the remainder of the regular season and the ACC tournament. He also reprimanded both schools for ``unsportsmanlike conduct' and fined them $500 each.
Following the suspensions, an uneasy truce lasted until the tail end of the 1957-58 season. But McGuire was incensed at the boos his team received on hostile Big Four courts. Then, after Duke defeated UNC in Durham, fans carried Bubas off the floor in celebration, and McGuire held his team on the bench until the floor was cleared of fans. He even requested a police escort.
McGuire's actions brought an angry reaction from Duke football coach Bill Murray, who had been in charge of arena operations.
``It was an uncalled-for demonstration,' Murray said. ``No athletic team will have trouble walking off this court. When the time comes that we have to have police protection to escort a team off our court, we should quit playing. It was the most revolting act by a college coach that I've ever witnessed.'
McGuire labeled Murray's criticism of him ``an unwarranted attack.'
In the '58-59 Dixie Classic, Wake Forest's Dave Budd and Cincinnati star Oscar Robertson engaged in a brief shoving match.
Later that season, Budd was a central figure in the ACC's worst fight to date. With 30 seconds left in Carolina's 75-66 win at Winston-Salem's Memorial Coliseum, UNC's Lee Shaffer and Wake's Charlie Forte became involved in an elbow-swinging incident. Budd joined the fray, and the three tumbled to the floor.
Fights involving players and fans broke out all over the court. McKinney was knocked down, McGuire was hit on the head, and a blow from a fan left the Tar Heels' Doug Moe with a black eye.
The Wake Forest pep band played ``The Star Spangled Banner' and ``Dixie' in an effort to quell the fighting.
Even Wake's mild-mannered Winston Wiggins became involved. The player's wife, who was seated behind the bench, walked to the edge of the court and yelled, ``Winston, you get out of there right this minute.'
This time, when Weaver reviewed film of the fight, he placed both squads on strict probation and warned that future incidents would endanger players' eligibility. He ruled that the two teams could not play a game in Winston-Salem the following season and recommended that UNC move its home game to a neutral site.
Weaver also censured McGuire and McKinney and reprimanded a half-dozen players. Despite protests from both schools, Weaver held firm.
``The late '50s and early '60s were a tedious time for Mr. Weaver,' said Nancy Thompson, the secretary and office manager throughout the terms of the first three ACC commissioners, and who was the only other occupant of a conference office that now numbers several dozen employees.
``Those were different times,' Thompson said. ``Mr. Weaver had to be his own investigator, and sometimes it seemed like problems were flying at him from all directions. But he was as patient and deliberative as anyone I've ever known. He'd study issues and watch film for days.'\ \ The last round
There was to be one last memorable fight before McGuire's departure for the NBA, this one involving Carolina and Duke players during their 1961 game at Duke's Indoor Stadium. The focal point in the conflict was Art Heyman, Duke's 6-foot-5 sophomore star from Long Island who had been the object of a recruiting showdown between McGuire and Bubas.
The hostilities began during the freshman game, which served as a preliminary to the varsity game in those years. Carolina finished its 79-52 loss to Duke with only three players on the floor. One of their teammates had been ejected for tackling a Duke player on a drive to the basket, and another was tossed for throwing a punch at a Duke player. Five more had fouled out.
Early in the varsity game, Moe and Heyman almost came to blows. Next, McGuire walked to the Duke bench to confront an assistant trainer for talking to one of his players. Then, Heyman slapped a UNC male cheerleader on the back of the head after the cheerleader touched him as he left the court at halftime.
It was with nine seconds left in the game that fisticuffs between Heyman and 5-11 Carolina guard Larry Brown triggered a free-for-all involving both benches and numerous fans.
While official Jim Mills attempted to break up the fight, his partner, Charlie Eckman, watched from behind a basket support. It took 10 Durham policemen several minutes to restore order.
The game ended with an exchange of words between McGuire and Bubas.
``When I changed my mind and enrolled at Duke instead of Carolina, it aroused some animosity on the part of the guys at UNC who had known me back in New York,' Heyman said. ``In their eyes, I was Benedict Arnold.
``Larry Brown and I lived five miles down the road from each other and had played together since grade school.
``My stepfather and mother coerced me into signing with McGuire and Carolina, but it wasn't binding until you actually registered back then. So, I made up my mind to enroll at Duke. I guess I was the first New Yorker who turned him (McGuire) down.
``There was a lot of tension in the air that night. Doug Moe spat on me, and I spat back. That cheerleader whacked me, and I cold-cocked him. After that, I was told by a representative of Duke never to go to Chapel Hill again. I never did.'
When Weaver reviewed film of the fight, he suspended Heyman, Brown and UNC's Donnie Walsh for all remaining ACC games that season.\ \ On probation\ N.C. State and Carolina were early entries on the all-time list of schools placed on NCAA probation.
Case twice ran afoul of major-college basketball's governing body during the '50s. Illegal tryouts for prospects was the cause of a one-year ban in '53.
The first probation seemed lenient in comparison with the one handed out three years later, in the aftermath of a messy recruiting battle between Case and Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp for a 6-7 Louisiana forward named Jackie Moreland.
``Everett was anxious to replace Ronnie Shavlik, and he went after Moreland,' Waters said. ``He was a nice kid and a very talented player. But he had committed to Kentucky, and his girlfriend wanted him to go to Kentucky.'
Testimony about Case's tactics in luring Moreland away from Kentucky resulted in some of the most severe sentences ever handed down by the NCAA. N.C. State's program was barred from NCAA tournament participation for four years for what was described as ``illegal recruiting inducements.'
Moreland became a journeyman player in the NBA and the ABA.
The NCAA handed McGuire's UNC basketball program a one-year probation Jan. 10, 1961, for violating recruiting rules.
The NCAA Council charged that in at least 15 instances, UNC entertained prospective players, their parents and sometimes their high school coaches away from the Chapel Hill campus. The council reported that the university paid for lodging and food for players' parents who attended the annual Dixie Classic in Raleigh. It was ruled that McGuire and Harry Gotkin, his New York City ``talent scout,' picked up entertainment bills and provided no detailed account of the expenditures.
The council also ruled UNC recruit Billy Galantai of Brooklyn ineligible for one additional year. The 6-6 forward already had been declared ineligible to play freshman basketball because he had filed a false eligibility statement. Galantai eventually played under coach Dean Smith in 1963 and '64, but his career was an undistinguished one.
In late January, UNC notified the ACC that it would not participate in the '61 ACC Tournament. In a telegram to Weaver, the league commissioner, the school's faculty committee wrote that ``such withdrawal would preclude the possibility of an ineligible team eliminating one or more eligible teams.'\ \ 'A price to pay'\ On the heels of probation, N.C. State and Carolina came under siege for their players' participation in college basketball's second widespread points-shaving scandal in the span of a decade.
Warrants were issued May 13, 1961, in Wake County Superior Court for the arrest of N.C. State players Anton Muehlbauer, Terry Litchfield and Stan Niewierowski for alleged points-shaving during the 1960-61 season.
N.C. State's Dan Gallagher was named by a Wake County Grand Jury on Sept. 12 for his alleged role in points-shaving during the 1959-60 season.
New York City District Attorney Frank Hogan had broken the case. His office arrested Aaron ``The Bagman' Wagman, Joseph Hacken, Jack Molinas and Joe Greene.
Wagman was a 29-year-old souvenir stand operator outside Yankee Stadium who also lived around the corner in the Bronx from Molinas, 30, an attorney and former player at Columbia University. Wagman and Hacken were believed to be members of a national crime syndicate. Greene, the principal contact for the N.C. State players, later said he had attempted suicide by slashing his wrists in a jail cell.
All were eventually convicted in New York and served time in prison. In 1975, Molinas was shot to death outside his home in Hollywood Hills, Calif.
In Wake County, Wagman, Greene and six other non-players were charged with bribery and conspiracy. All but two entered guilty pleas. Gallagher, Litchfield, Muehlbauer, Niewierowski and Lou Brown of North Carolina were granted immunity in New York for their testimony in North Carolina.
Gallagher, the youngest in a family of eight children from Binghamton, N.Y., fit the profile of most points-shavers because of the financial hardships he faced as a married student at State. He was the first Wolfpack player the gamblers contacted.
Still, Waters, whose playing career overlapped that of Gallagher, was stunned by the news of his involvement.
``Gallagher was a guy whom everybody respected, the last guy you'd think would be involved in something like that,' Waters said. ``He and (future Gov.) Jim Hunt were in school at the same time. If you were told that one of them would be governor someday, you'd say it would be Gallagher.'
Gallagher became a career Army officer who served two tours of duty in Vietnam and earned a master's degree in public administration from the University of Georgia before retiring from the Army in '81 and settling on the West Coast.
``I had choices to make, and I made the wrong ones,' Gallagher said. ``But I've made a lot of right choices since that time.
``Even though you don't receive a day in jail, the repercussions remain vivid in your mind. You are scorned by neighbors, friends. To be scorned by your friends at your high school and in your hometown is worse than a sentence in jail. I can assure you that.
``Your inability to return to campus in any kind of admirable way and be able to identify yourself or join the alumni association ... those things hurt. You lose your identity for a long period of your life.
``I hope that people can forgive. I hope that people are big enough to understand that people can overcome their mistakes.
``Quite a price to pay for several hundred quick bucks.'
Litchfield's story was the most heart-rending of all. Diagnosed as blind when he was 6 years old, he overcome severe nearsightedness to become a college player. After transferring from Richmond to N.C. State, he accepted $1,050 to shave points in two games. He later insisted, ``I never shaved any points in any game.'
Litchfield died of a heart attack in 1974, and his wife committed suicide a week later. The couple left behind a physically challenged daughter.
Muehlbauer, who was known as an outstanding defensive player, accepted $2,300 to alter the outcome of three games.
Niewierowski said he received $3,250 for shaving points in two games, against Maryland in 1960 and Duke in '61. He also said he turned down two other offers totaling $2,250 to fix games against Carolina.
Niewierowski was a skilled all-around athlete and the most happy-go-lucky player on his team. Always quick to organize a party, he usually had a pretty girl by his side. His teammates also were aware of his penchant for gambling on college football or basketball games.
``Throw a feather in the air, and (Niewierowski) would bet whether it would hit the floor or not,' said teammate Bob DiStefano.
In New York, UNC's Lou Brown admitted receiving $4,500 to arrange fixes of seven games not involving UNC and making more money by betting on fixed games. Brown also testified that teammate Doug Moe accepted $75 from Wagman. Moe was not charged with fixing a game, but was suspended from school, along with Brown, by UNC Chancellor William B. Aycock. Moe's college career was rescued by Elon College coach Bill Miller.
Brown's testimony also named teammate Ray Stanley, even though he had refused to accept a $1,000 payoff and did not participate in points-shaving.
Brown entered a guilty plea to bribery charges in Durham County and received an 18- to 24-month suspended sentence pending five years good behavior.
Before testifying in either state, Brown sold his story to Look magazine.\ \ End of an era\ As recommended by Gov. Terry Sanford and Consolidated UNC President William Friday, the Board of Trustees blamed the points-shaving scandal on big-time athletics. The board canceled the annual Dixie Classic, limited schedules at Carolina and N.C. State to 14 ACC games and two nonconference games and allotted both schools only two scholarship recruits per year from outside the ACC region. The restrictions lasted two years.
``The District Solicitor told me that one player had testified in deposition that a gambler stuck the barrel of a gun in his stomach and said, 'Gimme back the money,' ' Friday said. ``It was a very unfortunate and unhappy situation that could have hurt the reputation of the institution, and big-time sports had generated it.
``(Chancellors) Bill Aycock of UNC, John Caldwell of N.C. State and I locked ourselves up for a day-and-a-half,' Friday recalled. ``We determined that the scandal reflected that basketball in our area had outgrown itself, and we took what we felt were necessary steps to rein it in.'
Those who were close to Case maintain the points-shaving scandal removed some of his zest for the game. Lee Terrill, Case's trusted assistant, left the profession and never looked back in the aftermath of the scandal.
``Every year Everett reminded his players of the dangers of gambling,`` Waters said. ``I think he sensed that something was wrong before it broke open. He had no family, so his life was wrapped up in his program. He wasn't the same after he learned that those kids had sold him out, and he went downhill pretty fast after that.'
Case coached his last game early in the 1964-65 season and died of bone cancer the following spring.
Barely four years after orchestrating Carolina's national championship season, McGuire was gone, having resigned to accept an offer to coach Wilt Chamberlain and the NBA's Philadelphia Warriors.
Besides the fights, NCAA probation and the points-shaving scandals, McGuire was at odds with the UNC administration for other reasons. His grievances included a salary that he didn't think was commensurate with his accomplishments and extended to perks the university had not made available to him and UNC's tardiness in constructing a better playing facility than Woollen Gym.
His contractual salary of $11,600 had been supplemented only by the annual gift of a new car from boosters. He had been denied a weekly news conference such as the one held for football coach Jim Tatum. The school also declined to cover the expenses of some of McGuire's friends for trips to games.
The day McGuire resigned, Aycock promoted assistant Dean Smith to the head coach's job with a raise from $8,000 to $9,500 annually.
``I hope to carry on Coach McGuire's program, although I realize I have some big shoes to fill,' Smith said.
Many fans apparently agreed. Only 3,016 turned out to watch the Tar Heels play Indiana at the Greensboro Coliseum in one of Smith's first games in a schedule that had been abbreviated by the sanctions that resulted from the point-shaving scandal.
But in the long run, the post-scandal sanctions, McGuire's departure and Case's decline caused only a relatively brief downturn in the basketball fortunes at UNC and State. They also closed one of the most divisive periods in ACC basketball history.\ \ Contact Larry Keech at 373-7080 or email@example.com