BI News BriefsJanuary 21, 1999 |
by Black Issues
Georgetown Basketball Coach John Thompson Resigns
WASHINGTON — Georgetown University Coach John Thompson ended a 27-year career on Jan. 8, saying he could no longer juggle the demands of his personal life and those of running a nationally renowned basketball program.
“Basketball is 24-hour job, a seven-day-a-week job,” Thompson says. “I do not have the ability at this time to address those things in my personal life and to do my job.”
Thompson strongly disputed rumors that he would be moving on to the NBA to coach the Los Angeles Clippers. The stunning resignation comes about midway through a college basketball season that has seen the Hoyas struggle to an 0-4 record in the Big East Conference and a 7-6 overall record.
Thompson declined to be specific about his future, but repeated several times that he had been neglecting his personal life. He says he wasn’t retiring from basketball and won’t rule out a return to coaching at some point. He also says he expects to remain at the university.
Thompson is known for his opinions as much as he is for his on-court success. In January 1989, Thompson gained attention for his views on athletics and education when he walked off the floor before a home game against Boston College in protest of NCAA legislation, known as Proposition 42, that tightened criteria under which students could receive athletic scholarships. He also did not coach the next game, on the road against Providence.
Georgetown University officials immediately named Craig Esherick, an assistant under Thompson for the last 16 years, as the new coach and said he would be signed to a long-term contract.
Judge Dismissed Libel Suit Brought By Wellesley’s Professor of Africana Studies
BOSTON — A judge threw out a libel suit late filed against a student journalist by a Wellesley College African studies professor who stirred controversy by claiming Jewish influence on the media led to negative publicity for him.
In a ruling made public on New Year’s Eve, Superior Court Judge Judith Fabricant dismissed the case brought by Wellesley professor Anthony Martin over a 1993 article by Avik Roy. Martin — who had been the center of a school controversy when he accused Wellesley of participating in a “Jewish attack on Black progress” — sued Roy in 1993 after Roy’s story appeared in the student-run magazine Counterpoint.
The story focused on an encounter between Martin and a Wellesley student who accused the professor of verbally assaulting her, using foul language. In his story, which relied on unidentified sources, Roy alleged that the college tried to keep the complaint quiet and tried to stop the college’s newspaper from printing interviews with Martin and the student.
But only one paragraph was deemed libelous by Martin: one that suggested the professor was given tenure at Wellesley after he sued the school for race discrimination. In fact, Martin had received tenure before he sued the college over a merit increase.
Fabricant ruled that, although the paragraph contained the error, the story was “substantially true.” She also ruled that Martin didn’t suffer any harm to his reputation.
Martin, a professor of Africana studies, became the center of a heated controversy on the campus in 1992 when he assigned his students a Nation of Islam-published book called The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews that argued Jewish people were deeply involved in the slave trade. Dozens of Wellesley students and alumnae protested the use of the book which they called anti-Semitic.
Martin responded in December 1993 by publishing his own pamphlets and eventually a book called The Jewish Onslaught: Despatches from the Wellesley Battlefront, which said Jewish influence on the media led to negative publicity for him. Roy himself is not Jewish.
“For 25 years I have taught the Christian involvement in the slave trade and nobody made a fuss,” said Martin in an interview with Black Issues in 1993. “As soon as questions of the Jewish involvement arise, it’s anti-Semitism and all kinds of madness. The basic question is whether there was Jewish involvement, and if there was, why are they so uptight about this information getting out?”
COLLEGE PARK, Md. — A report was delivered to the governor this month that recommends the state give the University of Maryland-College Park an extra $22 million over the next two years.
The governor’s task force also will urge the Maryland Higher Education Commission and the University System of Maryland to create a statewide funding strategy for higher education. The panel’s report also recommends that students in the University of Maryland System be guaranteed at least $5,000 in funds each.
The task force’s recommendations would have to be accepted by Gov. Parris Glendening and the General Assembly. If they were accepted, they could lead to guaranteed funding for Maryland’s higher education institutions, which are now discretionary items in the state budget.
The funding guarantees will “give university presidents a built-in, reliable component to their budgets … so they can project what programs they can take care of,” says Montgomery County Delegate Nancy K. Kopp, the task force co-chairperson.
The report says that the guarantees will help College Park realize its intended status as flagship and set mandatory minimum funding levels for the system’s colleges and universities, which saw state funding stagnate during the recession of the early 1990s.
When the University System of Maryland was created in 1988, lawmakers called for an increase of $20 million a year for College Park from 1990 to 1995 to put it on par with top public universities. But the funds never materialized, hurting College Park’s quest to live up to its designated status as flagship of the system, faculty and administrators say.
The panel also will recommend giving the state’s public university presidents more freedom to create new programs. The University System of Maryland includes Bowie State University and the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore, both historically Black institutions.
EUGENE, Ore. — A Black University of Oregon music professor is outraged that officers looking for a robbery suspect stopped him and questioned him — for the second time in two years.
John Gainer, 44, says he was “floored” that the same kind of incident happened again.
Gainer filed a lawsuit against Eugene police after he was mistaken for a thief during a stop in April 1997. The latest episode happened last month, when a mall security guard decided that he resembled a robbery suspect and called police.
In both incidents, police boarded a Lane Transit District bus that Gainer was riding and asked him to step off for questioning.
Police Capt. Roy Brown interviewed both officers — one White, the other Black — and says they quickly determined that Gainer
wasn’t the suspect. Brown says the officers did not act inappropriately. However, he says the officers could have offered Gainer a ride after he missed his bus.
Brown, who also is Black, says he and acting police Chief Jim Hill have both offered apologies.
Gainer’s original lawsuit against the department was dismissed last spring by Lane County Circuit Judge Jack Mattison, who ruled that police have the right to stop a person and make a reasonable inquiry, based on reasonable suspicion.
ALBANY, N.Y. — A state appeals court has reinstated an indictment against two Albany police officers accused of beating a Black local college basketball player.
The Appellate Division of the state Supreme Court late last month reinstated the assault charges against officers William Bonanni, 31, and Sean McKenna, 29. The panel ruled that Albany County Court Judge Larry Rosen erred last August when he found that the pair could not be charged because they had been granted immunity when they testified before a grand jury.
The pair are accused of beating former College of Saint Rose basketball star Jermaine Henderson, 23, while he was handcuffed in a police parking garage in October 1997 after getting involved in an altercation at a bar earlier in the night.
The police officers, who were off duty at the time, maintain that Henderson attacked them. A misdemeanor assault indictment against Henderson was dismissed in August.
Special District Attorney John Dorfman said in a statement that he welcomed the decision and would quickly move to prosecute the case in Albany County Court. His statement also said he would continue to pursue the perjury indictment case against the officers that had been initiated after the assault charges were thrown out.
On Dec. 16, a grand jury returned perjury indictments against Bonanni and McKenna for allegedly lying in testimony they gave to the original grand jury that investigated the case.
Henderson’s father, Gerald Henderson, played in the NBA from 1979 to 1989 with the Boston Celtics and the New York Knicks.
Islamic Group Wants Professor Disciplined
WASHINGTON — An Islamic group is pressing for disciplinary action against a Southern Connecticut State University professor accused of distributing an anti-Islamic pamphlet.
The university planned a public forum to be held in early 1999 on Islam, and possibly other religions, following the controversy over whether professor Shawky Karas gave a student material that defames Islam.
The forum will probably be held no later than March, he says.
But the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations says that is not enough. The council, which acts as a watchdog for incidents of anti-Muslim discrimination around the country, still wants the school to punish Karas, by firing him or at least placing a letter of reprimand in his file.
The controversy erupted after a student, Maryam Fritsch-Mason, complained to the council that Karas, a professor in the Department of Counseling and School Psychology, had given her a copy of the pamphlet during an office meeting to discuss testing and evaluation. The pamphlet warns that a growing Muslim population in the United States could become a strong voting bloc, forcing legal changes that would curtail freedoms.
Minority Retention Rates Up at Indiana University
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Indiana University is doing a better job of keeping Black and Hispanic students.
The number of Black students returning to Indiana University (IU) after their freshman year has increased for the second straight year, putting the 1998 rate above that of the general student population. The rate of returning Hispanic students also increased to the highest rate since 1986.
As for graduation numbers, the only category where IU turned up on last year’s Black Issues list of Top 100 Degree Producers was for total minority baccalaureate degrees in Journalism and Mass Communications — ranked 42nd with a total of 14 graduates (See Black Issues, Aug. 6, 1998).
According to IU’s official undergraduate retention report, 87.3 percent of Black students from the 1997 freshman class returned for their sophomore year this fall. That’s an increase from last year’s figure of 81.7 percent, which was considerably better than the 1995 retention rate of 68.1 percent.
The overall retention rate on the Bloomington campus for the 1997 freshman class was 86.1 percent.
Top IU administrators were pleased to see the Black retention rate rise for the second year in a row.
“This is not a blip, it’s a trend,” says IU’s president, Dr. Myles Brand. “To exceed the general population is exceptionally rare. It reflects the superb work by our various support programs.”
In addition to the African American retention rate increase, the percentage was up for Hispanic students. Hispanics returned from their first to second year at a rate of 83.5 percent this fall, the high mark since 1986. Last year the rate was 80.8 percent.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The number of members of Florida A&M University’s Marching 100 to be disciplined this academic year for hazing has risen to 15, according to the Tallahassee Democrat. That adds three to the number cited for discipline in November (see Black Issues, Dec. 10, 1998).
“We’re in the business of educating, and sometimes rehabilitation works,” Marching 100 director Julian White told the newspaper. “In the past, we had attempted to help students found guilty of hazing [by giving] them another chance. Obviously, it didn’t work.”
To date, 15 students have been permanently removed from the band and temporarily suspended from Florida A&M (FAMU) because of hazing incidents last semester. The suspensions are harsher than in the past and, according to university spokesman Eddie Jackson, several disciplined students are appealing the decision.
Previously, band members disciplined for hazing were allowed back in the Marching 100 by the ensuing football season. But last fall, university officials promised to get tougher after a band member was paddled by current and former Marching 100 members severely enough to be hospitalized. The incident occurred less than a month after several parents had written a letter to administrators complaining of beatings and abuse.
“We don’t permit hazing in fraternities or in the Marching 100,” the university’s president, Dr. Frederick Humphries, warned. “They need to stop it, or it will be a serious problem.”
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