by Kent Sterling
Sometimes the best way to learn what’s right is to get it wrong. I wrote yesterday about the disgrace of the 1988 incident where Kentucky assistant coach Dwane Casey was accused of sending an Emery envelope with 20 – $50 bills to Claud Mills, the father of recruit Chris Mills. I assumed it was true, and I have never found any article or declaration to say otherwise.
That was until I got an email from current Dallas Mavericks assistant Dwane Casey, who was decent and polite throughout our email exchange where he corrected me. Casey wrote that he settled a defamation suit against Emery Air Freight shortly after the mess that permanently changed both the perception and reality of Kentucky basketball. It definitely changed the perception of potential employers and fans regarding Casey.
The NCAA rescinded it’s show cause order immediately after the settlement of the lawsuit, and Casey’s career has flourished as an NBA coach. The show cause has no effect on the NBA, but the fact that the NCAA moved to eliminate the one punishment that attached to Casey after the scandal is just as undamning as it is hard to find on the internet.
Oh, there is a lot of stuff on the scandal itself including until a few hours ago another of my posts – this one from December 10th, 2010 – that described Casey’s actions as making “Bruce Pearl and Kelvin Sampson look like brain surgeons”, but not so much about how the lawsuit was settled and how Casey has been busting his ass for almost 23 years to change the perception that people have of his actions in 1988 and the sullied reputation that resulted. Snarkiness has always been a weakness, and sometimes it’s warranted, but not here.
I mock Kentucky’s history of corruption from time to time because I hate corruption, and it’s easy to look at college basketball and football and guess at the level of deceit that goes with that territory. To indict all without rigorous investigation is more than just factually incorrect – it’s morally deficient.
If you have ever gone to a library and wandered through the newspaper archives, you have an idea of what the internet is multiplied by one-billion. One time while escaping Sociology cramming at the Indiana University Library, I wondered up to the floor where all the back issues of major metropolitan newspapers are. I thumbed through 1965 editions of the Chicago Tribune until I found a picture of me with Miss Beverly from “Romper Room” that was taken at the Woolworth’s in Lake Forest, Illinois. That explains the D in Sociology. Anyway, the internet allows us to find all kinds of information and perspective in a matter of seconds, and if the people who put it there don’t pay close attention, what becomes accepted as true will not always be true.
I made the mistake of trusting what I read, and then adding to it. When I wrote the post that was published December 10th, I researched as I always do to get the facts right – like the company who delivered the envelope, the dates, names, and results. What I never found was the fact that Casey wasn’t in Lexington the day the package was mailed, that the coach who opened the envelope found no cash in it, or that the NCAA lifted the show cause.
The internet is in ink, and when used without proper regard it can stain people. We need to be able to trust what we read. Casey was kind enough to give me some special attention today so I could get it right.
He was a lot easier on me than I might have been with someone else who did the same.