The Squared Circle

The Squared Circle by JAMES W. BENNETT Read Free Book Online

Book: The Squared Circle by JAMES W. BENNETT Read Free Book Online
Authors: JAMES W. BENNETT
is.”
    â€œYou might think different if you were there. I wonder who else they’re going to interview.”
    â€œYou mean here at SIU?”
    â€œYeah.”
    â€œNobody,” said Warner. “Only you. They only screen the top fifty freshmen in the country. If you’re looking for recruiting violations, that’s the most likely place to find them.”
    â€œBut what about Luther? He was a junior college all-American.”
    â€œHe was, but that’s just it. Luther’s a junior college transfer, not a freshman. If he went through Checkpoint , he probably went through it two years ago.”
    â€œWell, did he?” asked Sonny.
    â€œI don’t know,” Warner answered. “Maybe not. The NCAA doesn’t usually take too much interest in guys who go to junior college. Look at it this way, Sonny; it’s an honor to be chosen.”
    â€œLet’s believe that.” But he wondered why this information had to come from a newspaper reporter. Why not from the basketball staff, or the athletic director’s office, or the compliance officer?
    It was their turn to order. “Buy you a slice of pizza?” offered Warner.
    â€œSure. Why not?”
    Warner was smiling again, but this time in an indulgent way. “Why not is because it would probably be a violation. If I buy you something to eat, that’s a gift. I’m not an SIU alum, but anybody who spends as much time as I do on this campus would be seen by the NCAA as a representative of SIU athletic interests. Ergo , I would be providing you with an illegal gift.”
    â€œOkay, okay. Gardner goes over all this stuff, but it’s too complicated.”
    â€œComplicated it is. It’s a game you have to play like you’re walking through a minefield.”
    Sonny looked him in the eye, which meant he had to look down. “It’s not the game I care about,” he said. “The only game I care about is the one played on the court.”
    â€œI believe that,” admitted Warner.
    When they found a table and started eating, Warner said, “I don’t want to alarm you, Sonny, but I’m going to put a bug in your ear. Checkpoint may be simply routine, but what’s coming is not.”
    â€œWhat’s that supposed to mean?”
    â€œIt means an NCAA investigation. Does the basketball staff discuss this stuff with you people?”
    â€œNo, we never talk about anything like that, just the rules. Today was the first time I ever answered questions from the NCAA.”
    Warner finished chewing, swallowed, and drank some of his Coke before he continued. “I probably shouldn’t mention any of this, but it seems like somebody should. There’s going to be an investigation, and I mean full-scale.”
    â€œYou mean of our program?”
    â€œThat’s exactly what I mean. The NCAA is going to conduct a full investigation, which won’t be routine at all.”
    â€œHow do you know?”
    Warner shrugged and smiled. “I got hold of some information. Trust me on this.”
    â€œI trust you. When will they have this investigation?”
    â€œThere’s no way to tell. The NCAA is overloaded, and they’re incredibly slow even when they’re not.”
    Sonny could feel a knot forming in his stomach. I haven’t even played a game yet . “Are they going to have it this year?”
    â€œThey’d probably like to, if they can get their act together, but who knows? Time will tell.”
    Sonny didn’t say anything for a while. He ate his pizza instead, and tried to remember details of his recruiting trips or specific conversations with coaches. He remembered when Uncle Seth finally set up a separate phone line with an answering machine.
    Warner said, “I really wasn’t sure if I should mention this to you or not. I wouldn’t want to do anything to upset you. You’re a good kid, Sonny; I’ve always liked

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