As an NCAA investigator today began inquiries into illegal payments made to Texas Christian University football players, suspended all-America running back Kenneth Davis said he suspects not all of the violations have been revealed.
Davis was one of six players suspended last Thursday night when it was discovered they had received cash from an illegal recruiting fund set up in 1980 under former coach F.A. Dry and that some had continued to receive payments through alumnus Dick Lowe. A seventh player, reserve tight end Ron Zell Brewer, Tuesday admitted to receiving payments, apparently from another source, and also was suspended.
Davis was the only one of the players to be interviewed by the NCAA today. Davis said he was planning to leave campus but would return Saturday.
"I still feel some illegal recruiting has yet to come out," Davis said in an interview with The Washington Post. "They caught us six. It's circumstantial evidence, but I think there may be some left."
Lowe, who has resigned from the school's board of trustees, said that between 50 and 60 boosters contributed to the fund, which he said was established with the approval of Dry. He also confirmed that at one time as many as 29 players received payment under Dry, currently an assistant at Baylor. Dry has denied any knowledge of the fund.
Today, Davis surveyed his shattered college career from his seat on top of a washer-dryer at a washeteria several blocks from the TCU campus. He tried valiantly to ignore two elderly men in the corner loudly discussing the recruiting scandal, and described himself as a victim of an imperfect system, betrayed by the school that he came to love.
"I took the money because I needed it," said Davis, who turned down Nebraska, among others, to attend TCU. "In a certain sense I never gave it a thought. It never crossed my mind if it was wrong, or if I deserved it. I needed it. That was it."
Davis has been identified as the player who stepped forward Thursday night to admit taking payments, but he refused to comment on that. Davis would not specify the amount he received monthly from Lowe, but said it was far less than the $1,100 reported.
Of the seven players dismissed, Davis is the best known. The son of a cotton farmer in Temple, Tex., from a family of 12 children, he led the country in average per carry last year with 7.6 yards and was instrumental in leading the Horned Frogs to their first bowl appearance in 20 years, in the Bluebonnet.
A fifth-year senior, he decided to forgo the NFL draft to return for an attempt at the Heisman and to help restore a little of TCU's faded glory.
"I could have left," he said. "I could have left and none of this would have happened. But in a way I would die for this school. A lot of schools in the country and in the Southwest Conference didn't respect TCU, and I wanted to help them earn that great respect."
Davis was admittedly bitter about Wacker's immediate decision to suspend him from the team. The coach, who Lowe said had no knowledge of the ongoing slush fund, has been a noted crusader against NCAA violations since he came here in 1982 and issued several warnings to his team, but Davis said he was shocked at Wacker's decision.
"As a team and as players we were hurt," he said. "The coaches took a part of our life away from us and it didn't even faze them. I was very surprised. He (Wacker) was hysterical about it, but it didn't stop him. He took it and ran with it."
Davis blamed his predicament partly on alumni who offered him money, and partly on NCAA regulations that do not allow student athletes to earn money beyond their scholarships.
"When you're a scholarship player they own your butt, period," he said. "A student needs income. They say they give you a full ride, but they get the bowl money, and the TV money. I don't understand it . . . The alumni entice you. It's about the same at all the schools. They offered it. They make us look like the rats, gnawing away. But they put the cheese out there for us.
"I say the NCAA needs to change the rules, and fast -- so no more kids have dreams and watch a coach shatter them with a sledgehammer."
One thing that has angered Davis and the other dismissed players was what the running back claimed was reluctance on the part of Athletic Director Frank Windegger and Wacker to guarantee them full athletic scholarships. Windegger said earlier in the week that their scholarships would be maintained through the end of the semester and replaced by financial aid.
"I don't care about financial aid," Davis said. "They shot up my world, all of my dreams. A scholarship is what they promised me, through thick and thin. Granted, it's a little thin right now. But they owe me that."
Windegger said today the players had received a letter stating that all would retain full scholarships.
Another player, offensive guard Tommy Shehan, told the Dallas Times-Herald Tuesday that he accepted a job from an unnamed alumnus one day a week during two seasons prior to 1982. Shehan was apparently unaware that he, too, might be declared ineligible when he made the admission and today met with Wacker. His status was uncertain.