Former LSU tailback and Heisman Trophy winner Billy Cannon was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame yesterday, some 26 years after he was originally selected for enshrinement. The delay happened because months after voted into the Hall of Fame in 1983, he was arrested and pleaded guilty to federal counterfeiting charges. He eventually spent more than two years in jail and had his selection rescinded.
But while the College Football Hall of Fame decided that time heals all wounds, Bradley University apparently isn’t as forgiving. The SPRINGFIELD STATE JOURNAL-REGISTER says the school’s president is refusing to retire the jersey of former basketball star Gene “Squeaky” Melchiorre because of his involvement in a points shaving scandal 60 years ago.
Melchiorre was a two-time All-American, and lead the Braves to a No. 1 ranking and second-place finishes in the NCAA and NIT tournaments in 1950. But he also admitted to being part of a massive points shaving scandal that ensnared 32 players from seven different schools, admitting to working with teammates to hold down the scores in four games. He received a suspended sentence, but was banned by the NBA after being selected first in the 1951 draft.
Since then, Melchiorre has moved on with his life, eventually starting his own trucking firm. But a loyal group of supporters have tried to get his No. 23 jersey retired, despite the fact that the decision by Joanne Glasser on Friday means that five different school presidents have denied their request. Among the people who want Melchiorre’s jersey retired is former Peoria Mayor Jim Maloof, who decided to pitch a fit after hearing Glasser’s decision during a meeting.
“I told her this was a question of right or wrong, and she’s wrong,” Maloof said. “I didn’t go to Bradley, but I was made an honorary alumni. I have been a strong supporter for 65 years, maybe 70, from finding them housing for new students to helping them build a dorm to helping resurrect the Chiefs Club. In my 12 years as mayor, one thing I never forgot was to talk about Bradley and what it means to this community.
“But as of this moment, I am disassociating myself from Bradley, except for one thing: Bradley basketball. I’m taking Bradley out of my will. I don’t want to be part of anything on that campus.”
Also: GET OFF HIS LAWN!!!
I’m sure that Bradley basketball will find a way to survive without the support of a crochety 90-year-old geezer. Current coach Jim Les certainly can: that’s why he showed up at the meeting voluntarily to support Glasser’s decision.
“I have strong feelings about the young men I have to mentor and stand before on a daily basis,” Les said. “There can’t be anything worse happen to a program than to have gambling influence the outcome of a game. This honor is about what you did when you wore the jersey. If you took part in that (point-shaving) action when you wore the jersey, that’s not what we are trying to exemplify.”
Les said he told Glasser if she decided to retire Melchiorre’s jersey: “You’ll need to talk to my players about that, because of the message it sends.”