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A new brain injury lawsuit could be the undoing of college football as we know it

By Katherine Ellen Foley & Ephrat LivniJune 11, 2018

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) dropped the ball when it came to protecting football players’ brains, argues the widow of a deceased player in a lawsuit about the neurodegenerative disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.

 Just a year after the National Football League (NFL) settled for $1 billion with the families of players who suffered brain damage, and after the college athletes’ league reached a settlement to provide free biannual medical screening for athletes, the NCAA will tackle the matter again publicly in a Texas civil court. But this time, the NCAA officials will have to testify in front of a jury. The trial, which begins today (June 11), will be the first time NCAA representatives will have to answer questions in court about brain injury, revealing just what they knew about CTE and the risks of playing football, how long they knew it, and whether they hid information about those dangers from college athletes.

The plaintiff in this case, Debra Hardin-Ploetz, is the widow of Greg Ploetz, a linebacker and defensive tackle for the University of Texas from 1968 to 1972. He never played professionally, but in 2015, after he died, neurologists from Boston University who examined his brain concluded that he had the most severe form of CTE, and that the disease is what killed him.

Although Ploetz stopped playing football after college, he experienced symptoms of CTE, including depression, aggression, and confusion shortly after graduation. Eventually, he lost the ability to communicate in full sentences, responding only “yes” and “no” to questions and requiring full-time care.

In 2017, Hardin-Ploetz sued the NCAA for over $1 million on two grounds, reports Sports Illustrated: First, for negligence generally, meaning that the NCAA did little to warn or protect players like Ploetz about CTE, while knowing the dangers of playing the sport and taking years of hits to the head. Second, for wrongful death, which is a negligence claim made by the victim of someone who is deceased and applies to Ploetz specifically.

The NCAA, for its part, argues that because Ploetz knew the dangers of playing a contact sport, it isn’t liable for his death.

At the time Ploetz played in the NCAA, the league had no public policies on managing head injuries and concussions, and no rules about what colleges had to tell players, according to a deposition (pdf) of Mary Elizabeth Wilfert, associate director of the NCAA Sport Science Institute.

Today, universities must have comprehensive plans to care for athletes who become concussed, including criteria for when players are allowed to return to practice, games, and the classroom. Each player must sign a waiver acknowledging that they understand that their particular sport puts them at risk of head injury. Football players must wear (pdf, p. 106) knee pads, shoulder pads, mouthguards, and helmets with a faceguard and chin strap that meet impact testing standards set by the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment. These helmets, too, must contain a warning label about the risks of obtaining head injuries.

Hardin-Ploetz’s attorneys have noted that it took the NCAA 12 years from the time they learned that mouthguards could help prevent concussions and other injuries to implement rules requiring the equipment. And that’s even when the recommendation to enforce mouthguard use had come from one of the NCAA’s own safety subcommittees. The attorneys say is this evidence the association wasn’t overly concerned with player safety.

The widow’s claims in this case are somewhat analogous to Big Tobacco cases. For decades, Big Tobacco hushed the scientific research showing that smoking does in fact cause lung cancer. Smokers may have suspected that their habit was dangerous, but companies were still found liable in the courts for failing to publicize science on the actual dangers. Similarly, the NFL for a long timed denied the link between playing football and developing CTE later in life, despite the fact that neuroscientists have known for many years that repeated hits to the head, and not just concussions alone, directly cause the neurodegenerative disease. Players may understand a contact sport is risky, but if an athletic association or league failed to disclose known risks and failed to take precautions that could have prevented harm, it can, arguably, still be held liable for negligence and CTE deaths, no matter what players knew.

The NCAA has tried to block Hardin-Ploetz at every turn in this case, fighting her lawyers’ requests to depose association doctors and generally trying to minimize discovery. The deposition testimony shows acrimonious and contentious exchanges, with NCAA attorneys objecting to many questions, and the widow’s legal team complaining they can’t get the answers or witnesses they need.

While the trial isn’t likely to be a friendly affair, all parties will have to play a more civil game. If the NCAA seems to be blocking questions or otherwise indifferent to the plight of players, jurors will probably not be happy with the association.

On the other hand, a jury of Texans—who famously love college football— might be wary of what Hardin-Ploetz’s claims could do to the beloved pastime. If she wins, more former players may bring their CTE cases to court—which may result in further testimony from the NCAA on the dangers of football-playing, and could eventually influence the way football is played at the collegiate level. This, in turn, could put pressure on the NFL to do the same.

Although it’s hard to speculate, one such change would be transforming the way players are allowed to tackle one another. According to an analysis of the 2015 to 2016 season, tackling was the number one cause of concussions during games, and most of them come from helmeted head slamming into bodies. Theoretically, barring cross-body tackling—where a defensive player runs at an offensive player sideways with his head and chest across the offensive players body—and a win for the widow of a CTE victim in court would certainly help that cause..

However, college and professional football are high-stakes sports. If spending time learning alternative tackles takes away a team’s competitive edge, it may ignore new rules or find work-arounds to allow its players to continue making the sports’ characteristic big hits.

Football has already dropped in popularity in recent years, and a win for the widow in this case isn’t likely to help. Some fans may resist any resulting changes to beloved football traditions, while others may see the case as one more reason to abandon the sport.

The San Antonio Express News article by Mike Finger   June 2, 2018  Pictures to Mike's article were added by Billy Dale .   Greg was my teammate and Julius was my roommate.  

This combination of photos provided by Boston University shows sections from a normal brain, top, and from the brain of former University of Texas football player Greg Ploetz, bottom, in stage IV of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. According to a report released on Tuesday, July 25, 2017 by the Journal of the American Medical Association, research on 202 former football players found evidence of a brain disease linked to repeated head blows in nearly all of them, from athletes in the National Football League, college and even high school. (Dr. Ann McKee/BU via AP) less



Mildred Whittier still has not made it to the inside of a courtroom. It has been four years since she filed a lawsuit against the NCAA on behalf of her trailblazing brother, who battles dementia almost five decades after he became the first black football letterman in Texas Longhorns history.

Still, she waits.


Zack Langston’s family is waiting, too. In 2014, the former Pittsburg State linebacker committed suicide at 26, leaving behind instructions to have his brain studied for evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. Now, his case against the NCAA has been folded into a class-action lawsuit potentially involving thousands of former players.

For all of those families, a resolution could be years away.

But a week from Monday, Debra Hardin-Ploetz will not have to wait anymore. On June 11, she is scheduled to appear in a Dallas courtroom, where her attorneys will argue that the NCAA is legally responsible for her husband’s death.

It will be the first time a CTE case ever has gone to trial in this country. And for the NCAA, it will mark the beginning of what could be a momentous stretch of legal tumult that could leave a lasting effect on the governing body whose original stated mission is “to keep college athletes safe.”

Later this year, the NCAA will have to defend its limits on compensation for student-athletes in a trial set for a California courtroom. That case, legal experts say, has the potential to upend the entire concept of amateurism in college sports.

But in many ways, the CTE trial in Dallas could wind up being just as significant. That case revolves around Greg Ploetz, who played football at UT in 1968, 1969 and 1971, and died in 2015.

According a clinical report cited in his wife’s lawsuit, Ploetz suffered a myriad of serious health problems throughout his life, and “became apathetic, disinhibited, exhibited compulsive behaviors, and his personal hygiene began to decline. He experienced paranoia and confusion, was psychiatrically hospitalized, and was in and out of respite homes due to aggressive behaviors.”

Neurologists at Boston University, who studied Ploetz’s brain after his death, concluded he suffered from stage IV CTE, the most severe version of the disease. Those same researchers recently published a study stating CTE was found in 99 percent of brains obtained from NFL players, 91 percent of college football players and 21 percent of high school football players.

With that link in mind, the most important question to be settled in the Ploetz trial is this:

To what extent should the NCAA be held responsible for protecting athletes?

When the jury provides its answer, the effect could be huge. In an interview with The Brookings Institution, Donna Lopiano, the former UT women’s athletic director and former CEO of the Women’s Sports Foundation, estimated that the NCAA could face “at least a billion dollars in concussion liability.”

To win her case, Hardin-Ploetz — who is represented by Houston attorney Eugene Egdorf — will need to prove the NCAA was negligent.

Michael McCann, a legal analyst for Sports Illustrated, broke down the keys to proving that argument like this:

“Hardin-Ploetz insists that, 1. the NCAA openly acknowledged a legal duty to minimize the risk of injury to Ploetz while he played college football; 2. Ploetz relied on the NCAA to satisfy this duty; and 3. the NCAA failed to meet the duty.”

The NCAA, of course, is likely to argue that college football players assume the risk of injury by voluntarily playing a physical sport, and that the governing body had no duty to protect players as extensively as the Ploetz lawsuit suggests.

But Egdorf will have plenty of evidence to suggest otherwise. According to Sports Illustrated, Hardin-Ploetz’s lawsuit cites a 1933 NCAA medical handbook recommending that concussed players be held out for 48 hours, which could suggest that the NCAA should have required safety measures even during Ploetz’s career.

The plaintiff also could bring up NCAA president Mark Emmert’s 2014 testimony before the U.S. Senate, when he said, “I will unequivocally state we have a clear moral obligation to make sure we do everything we can to protect and support student-athletes.”

Hundreds of families, from the Whittiers to the Langstons to all of those filling the class-action suits still pending, believe the NCAA did not meet that obligation. Many of them have been waiting a long time to make that argument.

In just a few days, they finally will get to hear someone make it for them.<>


Twitter: @mikefinger



Sent from my iPad



Chicago Tribune November 2017

Four years ago, researchers from Evanston's NorthShore University HealthSystem and other scientific organizations announced that they had used brain scans to detect the hallmark of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, in ex-football players while they were still alive - a technique that promised to spur more accurate diagnoses, and possibly new treatments.


2017 Kia Cadenza

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The scans indicated the presence of tau, a protein that builds up over damaged neurological cells, in the brains of former NFL players. But the scientists cautioned that the results needed to be confirmed, since CTE can be definitely diagnosed only by examining brain tissue after a person's death.

Dr. Julian Bailes, a NorthShore neurosurgeon, said Wednesday that confirmation has arrived.

In a paper published last week in the journal Neurosurgery, Bailes and other researchers reported that one of the former players who had undergone a scan had his brain examined after he died - and sure enough, the tissue revealed that he had been suffering from CTE.

The condition is associated with repetitive head trauma and results in 

dementia-like symptoms.

More research is needed to corroborate the result, but if it holds up, Bailes said it could be a pivotal step in finding a way to help people with the condition.

"If there's ever a treatment developed, you can test the response to it," he said. "If you can trust the scans, you can tell a football player he shouldn't keep playing, or tell someone in the military he can't get in the way of explosions."

Visit the Chicago Tribune at

INFORMATIONAL ONLY- The comments below are not endorsements by tlsn


On May 23, 2017, the Court issued a Scheduling Order which amended the timeline in the class action lawsuit called In re National Collegiate Athletic Association Student-Athlete Concussion Injury Litigation, Case No. 1:13-cv-09116 (N.D. Ill.). It is pending in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. 

This Scheduling Order can be viewed at the Settlement Website, and extends the deadline to request exclusion from or object to the Settlement to August 4, 2017, and rescheduled the Fairness Hearing for September 22, 2017, at 10 a.m. at the Everett M. Dirksen United States Courthouse for the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, 219 South Dearborn Street, Chicago, Illinois.

If you have any questions,





In re: NCAA Student-Athlete Concussion Injury Litigation, c/o Gilardi & Co. LLC, PO Box 43414, Providence, RI 02940-3414


Saw this last week about a young lady with a remarkable recovery.  This is the same group that Bob Lilly and others have treated with.


 From Bill Atessis  


There is a less expensive procedure called celltex that is administered in this country.  I cannot substantiate the results of the treatment,  but I know some very important people are using this procedure.    Their site is, and the site has a testimonial component you can visit. Other sites to visit include


Bill Atessis.

Dear Horns,  (From Bill Atessis)

I am in the beginning phase of investigating a treatment by Celltex Therapeutics for one of my closest friends. This company has treated several prominent NFL players for Dementia and Alzheimer's.   I have spoken with several former Dallas Cowboys who have been treated and all are pleased with the results.  

That said- please know that I am still in the due diligence phase of research and my comments are informational only and should not be construed as an endorsement of Celltex .

Jackie Sherrill (former A&M Coach back in the 80's) has been working with Celltex Therapeutics and NFL players to get this treatment covered by the lawsuit funds.  I'm not exactly sure of the pricing but the NFL players I talked to say it is around $15 - $20 thousand.   I will try and meet with Jackie to get more information and a better idea of costs.

This treatment is not covered by insurance nor is it FDA approved.  The stem cell extraction is done in Houston however the injection is done at their clinic in Cancun Mexico.

If you have any questions that you would like me to ask as I pursue my due diligence, please forward to me thru

I hope all is going well with you and family.  I am really encouraged about our new coach, and I believe we are going to see UT back in the top tier of college football where we should be.

Hook 'em,

Bill  Atessis


From Deb Ploetz


Greg Ploetz and many more of our teammates have paid the ultimate price from football related concussions.  The organization below is seeking funding to continue research on how to lessen the impact of this contact injury on players who have CTE.

Article Written by Terry Frei for the Denver Post about CTE and Greg Ploetz death

Many..... still are shaken by the September 2013 death of , the charismatic Wishbone wizard and the father of former Rockies pitcher Huston Street. Street died of a heart attack. Also, James Saxton, the Texas running back who finished third in the 1961 Heisman Trophy voting (behind Syracuse’s Ernie Davis and Ohio State’s Bob Ferguson), passed away at age 74 last week after a long battle with dementia. At least one other prominent player in the Texas program from 1969-72 also is fighting dementia.

In communicating with Dale during this process, and telling him how much I respected how the LSG has responded to help Ploetz and other former Longhorns and their families, I mentioned that my father was the head coach at Oregon during that period, and I’ve been reminded again and again over the years about how the bonds between teammates — and between coaches and players — last. The latest was when three of my siblings and I were present as our father posthumously was honored at the Oregon spring game on May 3, tying it the military appreciation theme of the afternoon because he had been a decorated P-38 fighter pilot during World War II … and never allowed that to be included in his coaching biography. (He was an Army Air Forces contemporary of Ploetz’s father, Frederick Ploetz, the P-40 fighter pilot, also in the Pacific Theater.)

I feel comfortable with sharing what Dale wrote me about the teammates’ bonds issue:

“Bonding only occurs when the respect of a teammate is earned. We all respect each other. We struggled through the mental anguish of trying to be a starter for the Longhorns. We shared victories, losses, work-outs, fellowship, sorrow, pain, and joy together and now that most of us are entering the 4th quarter of our lives, we huddle again as a team to help each other. The teammate bond is not broken and the respect for each other remains years after our glory days at UT have ended.”

Greg Ploetz, Former Texas Football Player, Dies At Age 66

Questions are now being raised about the association of CTE to football head trauma. There are now scientific arguments that question CTE as the primary cause for head injury. Please see link below.

  Terry “Teapot” Collins 1967

I am not sure if the early Teapots  were  "short and stout" ,but I do know that by 1966 stature was the primary qualifier for wearing the  lid.  It was a harmless varsity hazing tradition  that required the freshman designated teapot to sing the teapot song before dinner each night at the dining hall at Moore Hill.  It was a tradition that brought a lot of smiles to many faces except maybe the designated teapot .  

TLSN tax exempt mission is to offer temporary financial assistance to former qualifying Longhorn student athletes , trainers, managers, coaches, and their immediate families. Last year TLSN raised $15,000 to help a former Longhorn volleyball player whose son had Leukemia. Recently Syd Keasler, Scott Palmer, and Billy Dale visited Terry Collins at his home to complete a due diligence process required by both TLSN and UT compliance.

Terry“Teapot” Collins Chronology

Chronology of Events

  • Even though in April of 2018 Cancer had not been diagnosed, Terry no longer has enough energy to perform his job and is laid off.

  • July 5th, 2018 Deb Collins sends me an email about her husband.   Deb says " Billy Dale Terry goes in for his first radiation treatment, July 5th 6 weeks of it 5 days a week. Please keep Praying.............. DEB " Doctors will pull all of his teeth.  

  • December 2018 - Terry’s Neck cancer is in remission, and Terry can no longer feels the growth in his neck.

  • January 2019- Terry’s health and energy level return. He is now trying to dig his family out of a financial hole. Terry emails me and ask if TLSN can help.

  • 01-15-2019 Scott Palmer, Syd Keasler, and Billy Dale meet with Terry in his home. He shares his story and his financials so we can determine how best to help him.

  • 01-16-2019- Billy Dale completes the UT compliance forms requesting authorization to distribute funds to help Terry.

  • 01-18-2019- UT compliance approves TLSN request to distribute funds to Terry Collins. Please see below.

    Good morning Billy,

     I attached the approved financial support request form for Mr. Collins.  As you know, to comply with NCAA bylaws, we will need all receipts to document expenses incurred and the total amount received once TLSN has fulfilled its commitment to Mr. Collins.

     If you need any other information from our office in order to begin providing financial support please let me know.  We are thinking of Mr. Collins and very much hope that he will make a full recovery in 2019.



     Aubrey D. Brick | Assistant Coordinator, Risk Management and Compliance Services | The University of Texas

    Office 512-471-5420 | Fax 512-232-4361 | NEZ 7.814 |

    Mailing Address: PO Box 7399, Austin, TX 78713 | Overnight/Delivery Address: 403 DeLoss Dodds Way, RMRZ B.206, Austin, TX 78712

    Twitter: @TexasCompliance | Texas Compliance on


     Winning with Integrity ™

    You can donate online by clicking the donate button below, or by check made out to TLSN and mailed to CFO Jim Kay at P.O. Box 983

    Burnet, TX 78611-0983

    Pending events for Terry

01/30/2019 - Terry is scheduled for a Cat scan.



Carl Johnson  accomplishments  remind all Longhorns that In sports and far beyond, his contributions  to Longhorn heritage have shaped the present and empowered the future.

Article by Track All American and Co-Captain Byrd Baggett, UT Class of 1972

I met Carl Johnson in 1968 in Austin. As the only African-American athlete on our University of Texas track team, Carl had skin a different color than mine. He lived alone in the athletics dorm. But we had other things in common: we were both freshmen, scared and homesick, and we both persevered to achieve success during our four years — we were four-year lettermen and All American selections, elected co-captains, and graduated with two conference championships. But from our four years together, the memory that will forever be in my soul is from 1971.


We had traveled to Lawrence to participate in the Kansas Relays, and on the day of competition, we had stopped at a local diner. We ordered a full meal from the menu; I probably ordered a cheeseburger and fries. As we were leaving for the track for that day’s competition, I noticed that Carl had not eaten lunch, and I was worried that this might affect his performance. I had no extra money myself, but the University always gave us money for meals, and I was perplexed as to why Carl had not eaten.

Not wanting to embarrass Carl, I walked over and asked quietly, “Carl, why didn’t you eat?” He replied in a very meek voice, “Oh, Byrd, I don’t eat. I send the money home to my mom so she and my brothers and sisters can eat.”

We were all aware of Carl’s situation, but we couldn’t really relate, as we never had to deal with the life challenges that he faced. For shirts, Carl cut the corners out of the mesh laundry bags we were issued for our uniforms and wear them over his T-shirts. That’s how poor he was.

Of course, in that day especially, poverty and racism went hand-in-glove. On one trip to Houston we stopped in La Grange to have lunch. Upon entering the restaurant, the owner approached our head coach, who at the time was Jack Patterson. (Patterson left to become the athletics director at Baylor and was replaced by Cleburne Price.) The proprietor told Coach that the white athletes could eat in the restaurant but the [n.....] would have to eat with the cooks in the kitchen. I’ll never forget how upset Coach Patterson became when he responded to the owner of the restaurant that we would eat together as a team or would leave. As we all listened to this exchange, the owner relented and let Carl eat in the restaurant with the rest of us. This was a real bonding experience and gave us a brief insight as to what Carl had to deal with on a daily basis. You can also see why Jack Patterson was a great coach: he believed in treating everyone with dignity and respect.

Glen Sefcik, the team manager my four years, lived close to Carl’s home town of San Angelo, and since Carl had neither a car nor money for trips home, Glen would take Carl home on the holidays. For this, Glen was called a “[n.....] lover.”

We didn’t care about skin color — we were athletes on a mission to win. And while I don’t remember any racial conflicts on the team, I don’t think many of us were very close to Carl. He was a very private person who kept to himself or associated with the few African Americans on campus. I don’t believe we could really understand how lonely Carl was during his four years at UT.

That night in Lawrence, four members of the UT track team unexpectedly made the finals of the sprint medley relay. Carl opened with a blistering 220 and handed the baton off to me to run the second 220. After running one of the fastest splits of my career, I handed off to Ed Wright, who ran a spectacular 440 leg. Ed made the final transition to Dave Morton as he anchored the relay with a world class 880. The result: the fastest time in the world — 3:16.7.

We were a team, and, even though we didn’t always get along, we cared for each other and expected excellence.

In 1973, less than a year after achieving his dream of graduating from The University of Texas, Carl lost his life in a freak car accident.

Even though his early death was tragic, his life was triumphant, and, in an odd way, complete. He had achieved at least two major life goals, and how many of us can say that? Carl had 1. been elected team captain by his peers and 2. graduated from college. It’s doubly triumphant since he achieved his goals against such odds. It’s not the number of years you live, but what you accomplish in those years. And the engine that kept him running was hope. It’s been said that a person can live 40 days without food, four days without water, but only four seconds without hope. I truly believe that what gave Carl hope for a brighter future was his scholarship.


Too many people quit before the blessing. Carl didn’t quit, and his story of perseverance will live in my heart forever.

Byrd Baggett, UT Class of 1972


PAUL HARRIS: Carl Ray Johnson's spirit lives on in San Angelo

CHS runner Johnson made an impact on and off the track

Posted: July 01, 2013 0

A couple of months ago, a man named Bobby Lacy walked into the Standard-Times and asked if I could help him find some information from our office library on his old friend, Carl Ray Johnson.

He was wanting to know — for the purposes of a friendly bet — how Johnson had finished at the state track meet in 1968.

I recognized Johnson’s name because San Angelo has a recreation center named after him, but that’s all I knew about the man.

I was intrigued to find out a little more about this former Central High School athlete, who was talented enough to qualify for the state meet and have a gym named in his honor.

Once I began researching him, I uncovered more than I ever expected.

As a sophomore, Johnson took second place at the state meet in the 220-yard dash. After being slowed by injuries as a junior, he was third at state in the 440 as a senior (answering Lacy’s question).

Johnson even twice qualified for the U.S. Jaycees National Track Championships.

Yet his greatest achievements were still to come. He was an All-American runner at the University of Texas, where he became the first black athlete to earn a track scholarship at the school.

He was elected as a captain of the Longhorns track team his senior season in 1972.

Who knows what else he might have accomplished if not for a car accident north of Austin that took his life on July 2, 1973. He was 23 years old.

Today is the 40th anniversary of Johnson’s death.

His legacy still lives on at the Carl Ray Johnson Recreation Center in the 1100 block of Farr St. The gym was named in his honor on June 1, 1982.

It was fitting for the center to bestow his name, not just because of Johnson’s athletic talents, but because of his passion for helping better his community.

Johnson majored in sociology at UT and worked with youth in impoverished neighborhoods in Austin.

“That’s where it’s at,” said Johnson in a 1972 story in the Austin American-Statesman. “The older people have already made up their minds about race relations, and there’s not much chance of changing them. But I hope to show the kids, they can be black in a white man’s world and still get along.”

Last year, Johnson’s life was celebrated at a Texas Exes luncheon in San Angelo, and Central High School created a scholarship, the Carl Johnson Spirit Award, in his memory.

Forty years later, Johnson is still impacting lives.

“The month before he died, he was working with youth in East Austin,” said Johnson’s former UT teammate, Byrd Baggett, at last year’s luncheon. “I think Carl would’ve been working in San Angelo in social work, mentoring, challenging youth to not quit. I think that’s his greatest legacy.”

Lacy also spoke at the luncheon, reciting a poem he had written about Johnson.

“After all that’s said about his athletic prowess, please understand he was a better person than he ever was an athlete,” Lacy told me last week. “He was a great student as well. It was a true loss for us. He left us before the world got to see how great he was.”

Lacy said that while Johnson was best known for his accomplishments in track, he was also an outstanding basketball player.

“We used to play pickup ball at Carver (Elementary), and he changed the game of 21,” Lacy said. “He’d hit a basket and could go the rest of the way with 19 free throws. So we moved the free-throw line back to the top of the circle, and that didn’t hurt him. So we started it where you could only hit three in a row and then take it out, because of Carl.”

The 6-foot-2, 180-pound Johnson led the Central Bobcats’ basketball team to a 22-7 record his senior season with 579 points.

His grade-school heroics are the stuff of legend in San Angelo. Johnson won eight events and took second in another one year at the Little Olympics.

I found numerous clippings about Johnson in our library, and I read all of them. I consider it a privilege now to know so much about one of the great athletes and people to ever call San Angelo home.

Of all the things I read about him, I most admired his spirit for wanting to make the world a better place — and working hard to make it happen.

“They keep telling me things are getting better,” Johnson said. “Well, sure they’re getting better, but when you want something real bad you don’t want to wait 20 years for it.”

If you were like me and the Carl Ray Johnson Recreation Center was just a name to you, hopefully the next time you hear about it or drive past it, you’ll think about the man.

 Marquette Sports Law Review Volume 11 Issue 1 Fall Article 5

A Brief History of the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Role in Regulating Intercollegiate Athletics Rodney K. Smith

“Over the past 150 years, the desire to win at virtually any cost, combined with the increases in public interest in intercollegiate athletics, in a consumer sense, have led inexorably to a highly commercialized world of intercollegiate athletics. These factors have created new incentives for universities and conferences to find new ways to obtain an advantage over their competitors. This desire to gain an unfair competitive advantage has necessarily led to an expansion in rules and regulations.”

Follow the money trail to understand The NCAA, Alumni , and the Universities impact on recruiting

Proliferation of rules and the development of increasingly sophisticated regulatory systems were necessary to enforce those rules, together with the importance that attaches to enforcement decisions, both economically and in terms of an institution's reputation ….., places great strain on the capacity of the NCAA to govern intercollegiate athletics. This strain is unlikely to dissipate in the future because the pressures that have created the strain do not appear to be susceptible, in a practical sense, to amelioration. Indeed, the one certainty in the future of the NCAA is the likelihood that big-time intercollegiate athletics will be engaged in the same point-counterpoint that has characterized its history; increased commercialization and public pressure leading to more sophisticated rules and regulatory systems. As rules and regulatory systems continue along the road of increased sophistication, the NCAA will more closely resemble its industry counterparts. It will develop an enforcement system that is more legalistic in its nature, as regulatory proliferation leads to increasing demands for fairness. In such a milieu, chief executive officers will have to take their responsibilities for intercollegiate athletics even more seriously. It can be hoped, as well, that their involvement, and the increased involvement on the part of faculty and staff, through the certification process and otherwise, will lead to a more responsible system in terms of the maintenance of academic values. If the NCAA and those who lead at the institutional and conference levels are unable to maintain academic values in the face of economics and related pressures, the government may be less than a proverbial step away."

Recruiting is now somewhat sophisticated , but the fact is recruiting is a game of chance and mistakes will be made. Abe Lemmon once said “doctors bury their mistakes, but mine are still on scholarship”. Recruiters have to make decisions based on the high school athletes past performance including agility, performance, and quickness. However , It is the intangibles where most recruiting mistakes are made. High school stars sometime just burn-out on the sport before reaching college. Others can’t adjust to college life. Some leave the program because they are a great player but there is a better player starting. Mike Presley competed against Marty Akins but never got the starting job so he left the Longhorn program his senior year. Priest Holmes graduated from Texas but he was Ricky Williams back-up. Holmes missed the 1995 season with a knee injury, allowing for the emergence of future Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams as the starter. Relegated to third string behind Williams and Shon Mitchell.

Author Kern Tips says  “ from a casual courtship, and common law marriage to ardent, well-chaperoned romance, and indissoluble bow.   This mating call in football jargon is called recruiting and unfortunately “ the laws of man have had to hustle to rein the laws of nature”

In the beginning of college sports the athlete chose the University. In later years as the value of athletes rose in the esteemed eyes of the Universities, alumni emerged as recruiters.  Alumni offered “inducements” for the athlete to attend their university. The incentive was not illegal. Even with inducements,  the symbolic engagement ring was easy to return to the University if the student athlete changed his mine.  .

In 1914 after the SWC was established, there was finally an adult in the house who chose to stem these tendency of bribery.  The SWC first rule was that no one who had degree could participate in sports.  The second rule required the athlete to attend the University for one year before becoming eligible to play football.

Chronology of recruiting rules to stop rampant bribery of athletes.

1925 - The SWC passed the “tramp athlete” rule which stated athletes who transferred from one University to another did not qualify to play the same sport in another school.

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1929 -tThe Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Education issued a significant report that warned that “Commercialism in college athletics must be diminished and college sport must rise to a point where it is esteemed primarily and sincerely for the opportunities it affords to mature youths”. That is to say education first and sports second.

1935- The SWC adopted the Junior College transfer rule that allowed athletes to gain immediate eligibility at the chosen school.

Up until 1930 “the sources of financial aid for the student athlete came from the alumni . More times than not the coaches and Universities administration did little recruiting.

1931- The SWC rules committee authorized a limitation of aid to the student athletes. In addition, Universities for the first time could provide jobs for the athlete to pay tuition,, fees, room, board , and books.

1932- The coaches started to take over the responsibility of recruiting.

“After World War II, with the dramatic increase in access to higher education on the part of all segments of society, largely through government support for returning military personnel to attend college, public interest expanded even more dramatically than it had in the past. Increased interest, not surprisingly, led to even greater commercialization of intercollegiate athletics. With the advent of television, the presence of radios in the vast majority of homes in the United States, and the broadcasting of major sporting events, these pressures further intensified. More colleges and universities started athletic programs, while others expanded existing programs, in an effort to respond to increasing interest in intercollegiate athletics. These factors, coupled with a series of gambling scandals and recruiting excesses, caused the NCAA to promulgate additional rules, resulting in an expansion of its governance authority.”

1945- the NCAA pushes for more control over financial aid and recruiting. Many of the Longhorn athletes returning to campus after the war were focused on football more than academics Author R.E. Blount who played for the Horns from 1946-1948 said most were majoring in P.E. or Arts and Science and were taking a psychology classes to fulfill degree requirements.

1947- active Longhorn football scholarship player R.E. Blount is elected to the House of Representatives. The SWC received some complaints and chose to review Blount’s eligibility status. In 1946 Blount a starter for the Longhorns was a “principal” speaker on the high school speaking circuit. The SWC rule books says that only coaches could be a principal speaker in these type of events , so Bible makes Blount a member of the coaching staff even though he was also on scholarship player. The next year the Attorney General was asked for an opinion on Blount status as a dual state employee receiving a salary as a member of the Texas House and a scholarship to attend UT. That was against the law, and Blount officially lost his scholarship, but Coach Bible allowed Peppy Blount to continue to live in the athletic dorm and maintained his dining room privileges at no charge. The G.I. bill paid for Blounts tuition and books. The case was settled and Blount finished his college career with no scholarship but most of the benefits.

Scalping Tickets

Players were given 2 complimentary tickets and the option to purchase 4 more- all on the 50 yard line. Most players optioned for the six tickets with the intent to sell the tickets to corporations and wealthy alumni. Unfortunately scalping tickets banned by the SWC in the late 40’s. Which caused some serious concerns on compliance issues. Clemson’s Athletic Director reasoned that if it was ok for the student body to scalp their tickets , it should be alright if athletes did the same. Coach Bear Bryant said when he was at college scalping tickets paid for “ toothpaste and shaving cream” and various other necessities. For many of the players from poor families, this extra money helped then with incidentals and even dating. From my own experience playing in the the late 60’s, I know the players in this era were l scalping tickets so the 1940 SWC ruling against scalping must not have ever been enforced.

1950-The first television sporting event in the 1950s was a college football game, and at this time the televising of college football games remained under the NCAA's control .

1951 the NCAA  agreed to allow universities to pay for an athletes education in the form   of a scholarship which included paying tuition, fees, board, room, books ,and laundry. “ Thus, in 1951, the NCAA began to exercise more earnestly the authority which it had been given by its members.". Two other factors are worth noting in the 1950s: (1) Walter Byers became Executive Director of the NCAA, and contributed to strengthening the NCAA, and its enforcement division, over the coming years to televise intercollegiate football; and (2) the NCAA negotiated its first contract valued in excess of one million dollars, opening the door to increasingly lucrative television contracts in the future. The NCAA was entering a new era, in which its enforcement authority had been increased, a strong individual had been hired as executive director, and revenues from television were beginning to provide it with the wherewithal to strengthen its capacity in enforcing the rules that were being promulgated. Through the 1950s and 1960s, the NCAA's enforcement capacity increased annually.”

1952  The legal “Letter of intent” between the athlete and a University  dealt a  legal death nail for athletes who changed their mind before attending their first class at the chosen university.  The athlete who changed his mind suffered harsh consequences including loss of eligibility for two years and no scholarship for the other two years. 

1953 the date for signing was changed to February 15th as author Kern Tips says in “relieve the recruiting pressures on the innocent who were being bombard by those skilled salesmen (recruiters) ” hawking “a sheepskin-via pigskin”. Recruiting an athlete becomes a research laden process for the recruiter requiring full dossiers on each athlete. 

Joey Aboussie was an All American in high school and the recruiting “bidding” for his service under the table was high, but he still chose Texas with no bribes offered . Joey says most of the bribing came from the alumni not the coaches. Joey like many other recruits said he was not prepared for the pressure put on him to sign from recruiters.

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Ernie Koy was heavily recruited by universities across the nation. Recruiter came to his house  and volunteered to help him slop the hogs at sundown on his father’s place hoping that this work would convince Ernie of their sincerity to “help” him .  Ernie says “ I never met a nicer bunch of gentlemen “. Ernie signed his letter of agreement with Texas and learned very quickly that the honeymoon was over.  The recruiter’s who wanted to tuck him in at night and loved his parents changed dramatically on Ernie’s first day of practice.  No more sweet talk for Ernie from the coaches. It was a time to earn and learn.  

In 1960  Duke tells a story in his book about the harshness of rejecting the courtship of a recruiter.  Duke decided to cancel his Baylor trip to attend Coach Royal’s spring game .  When he told the Baylor coach he was cancelling his his visit the Baylor Coach was upset and said “Well then, why did you schedule it?” He then said to  Duke “He might  want to be careful with my flippant attitude.” It was after this incident that Duke said “ the fun and glamour had fast gone out of my recruiting experience.”  

Billy Dale agrees with Duke about recruiting.  It sounds like fun as a boy , but the athletes are forced into adult decisions at 17 years of age. I have always respected authority and coaches were the center of the authoritarian universe for me.  Informing a coach from A & M s that I decided to attend Texas was my first brush with the antagonistic side of recruiting, and I did not like it. The day after I announced my decision to the local press, the A & M coach called me at 7:00 A.M. on a school day with anger in his voice. Respecting authority ,I listened to his attempt to change my mind, but realized quickly that the soft sell approach had morphed into a hard sell approach.  It was insulting when the coach said I would never play at UT. I did not know how to respond to him so my dad pacing by the phone realized I was in trouble and yanked the phone from me and said to the Aggie coach, “ the boy has made his mind up, and he is going to be a Longhorn.” Dad then hung up the phone without waiting for a response from the Coach , and I never heard from A & M again.



By 1971, as its enforcement capacity had grown yearly in response to new excesses arising from increased interest and commercialization, the NCAA was beginning to be criticized for alleged unfairness in the exercise of its enhanced enforcement authority. Responding to these criticisms, the NCAA formed a committee to study the enforcement process, and ultimately, in 1973, adopted recommendations developed by that committee designed to divide the prosecutorial and investigative roles of the Committee on Infractions."° In the early 1970s, as well, the membership of the NCAA decided to create divisions, whereby schools would be placed in divisions that would better reflect their competitive capacity.

1978- the United States House of Representatives Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation held hearings to investigate the alleged unfairness of the NCAA's enforcement processes. Once again, the NCAA responded by adopting changes in its rules designed to address many of the criticisms made during the course of the hearings. While concerns were somewhat abated, the NCAA's enforcement processes continued to be the source of substantial criticism through the 1970s and 1980s.

1980’s- This is difficult economic times for higher education , university presidents increasingly found themselves caught between the pressures applied by influential members of boards of trustees and alumni, who often demanded winning athletic programs, and faculty and educators, who feared the rising commercialization of athletics and its impact on academic values. Many presidents were determined to take an active, collective role in the governance of the NCAA, so they formed the influential Presidents Commission in response to these pressures.

1984- The University President’s Commission began to assert its authority, and by 1985, it took dramatic action by exercising their authority to call a special convention to be held in June of 1985. This quick assertion of power led one sports writer to conclude that "There is no doubt who is running college sports. It's the college presidents."' " The presidents initially were involved in a number of efforts to change the rules, particularly in the interest of cost containment. These efforts were not all successful. Over time, however, the presidents were gaining a better understanding of the workings of the NCAA, and they were beginning to take far more interest in the actual governance of intercollegiate athletics.

1991- Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court Warren E. Burger, issued a report suggesting new procedures for the investigation process for infractions. Including “Initial Notice”, “Summary Disposition”, use of tape recorders , use of former judges as hearing officers, more disclosure to the public , use of transcripts , establishing a limited appellate process, and establishing a conflict of interest policy. The purpose of the review was to make sure that the process is handled in the most effective way, that fair procedures are guaranteed, that penalties are appropriate and consistent; to determine ways to reduce the time needed to conclude the investigation and the infractions process, and to determine if there can be innovative changes that will make the process more positive and understandable to those involved and to the general public.

1994 - The University president’s involvement with the NCAA grew to the extent that they had changed the very governance structure of the NCAA, with the addition of an Executive Committee and a Board of Directors for the various divisions, both of which are made up of presidents or chief executive officers.


“ As the role of television and the revenue it brings to intercollegiate athletics has grown in magnitude, the desire for an increasing share of those dollars has become intense. In time, however, a group of powerful intercollegiate football programs were determined to challenge the NCAA's handling of the televising of games involving their schools. In NCAA v. Board of Regents, the United States Supreme Court held that the NCAA had violated antitrust laws. This provided an opening for those schools, and the bowls that would ultimately court them, to directly reap the revenues from the televising of their football games. This shift has effectively created a new division in football called the College Football Association, which is made up of the football powerhouses in Division 1. Because these schools have been able to funnel more television revenues in their direction, which has led to increases in other forms of revenue, they have gained access to resources that have unbalanced the playing field in football and other sports. “


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Where there is money involved in college sports there will always be some corruption so the NCAA, with all of its flaws, is still needed to investigate and enforce sanctions. The battlefield for the fruits of winning (money) begins with signing great recruits . SMU knew this, and in 70’s chose deceit over compliance to recruit great athletes and fill their coffers. Fortunately, for the integrity of college sports, they were caught. The NCAA rightfully punished SMU with the death penalty , and the program decades later has not fully recovered from the sanctions.

If you do not think that this could happen in the 2000’s then look no further the the recent Louisville scandal to understand that NCAA rules will always be broken and winning in college sports at all cost will never be controlled when human nature and money are involved.

From USA TODAY Sports 2017 An FBI investigation alleges that a coach from a public research university in Kentucky that matches the description of Louisville paid $100,000 to a basketball recruit’s family. The school later acknowledged that the school’s men’s basketball recruiting was part of the investigation. Pitino responded to the allegations earlier in the week and said that they came “as a complete shock to me.”