One player went to prison. One was acquitted by a jury. One walked away scot-free. Yet they all admitted taking money from mobsters to fix college basketball games.
Nearly 40 years after the Boston College point-shaving scandal shocked the sports world and introduced America to Henry Hill, the wiseguy immortalized in the movie “Goodfellas,” many questions remain unanswered.
Using never-before-heard audio recordings, we’ll untangle what really happened in Boston in the winter of 1978-79.
Was there a fix? You decide.
Confused? There are a lot of characters to keep track of in Fixed. Here’s a brief bio of the main ones:
- Rocco and Tony Perla: Brothers and friends of Rick Kuhn. It was in their basement that Paul Mazzei, recently released from Lewisburg Prison, met Rick Kuhn.
- Paul Mazzei: Pittsburgh drug dealer and dog groomer. While in Lewisburg Prison, he met Henry Hill, associate of New York’s Lucchese crime family, who was serving time for extortion.
- Rick Kuhn: Back-up Center for BC basketball team and native of Swissvale, PA.
New York Mobsters
- Henry Hill and Jimmy “The Gent” Burke: Associates of New York’s Lucchese crime family famous for the Luftansa Heist at JFK Airport in 1978. Hill and Burke could never be “made men” in the Mafia, because they both lacked 100% Italian heritage. They have, however, been immortalized in Nick Pileggi’s iconic book, Wiseguy, and the as iconic film by Martin Scorcese, Goodfellas.
- Paul Vario and his son, Peter: Paul was the head of the Lucchese crime family.
- Jim Sweeney: Prep school graduate, star athlete, and scholar, Sweeney was BC’s starting point guard in the 78-79 season. After a stellar career at BC, it was revealed that he took money from Henry Hill in exchange for agreeing to shave points.
- Ernie Cobb: BC’s leading scorer in 78-79. His dreams of an NBA career were derailed by the point-shaving scandal.
- Rick Kuhn: The recruiter–he convinces Jim Sweeney to meet with Henry Hill, Tony Perla, and Paul Mazzei at the Logan Airport Hilton.
Players NOT implicated in the fix:
- Chris Foy and Tom Meggers: Teammates on the 78-79 BC team who were never implicated in the scandal. Foy was still playing for BC in 1981 when news of the scandal broke.
Friends and Coaches:
- Mike Mayock: Jim Sweeney’s roommate and confidant. He is currently an NFL analyst for the NFL Network.
- Tom Davis: BC Coach
- Kevin Mackey: BC Assistant Coach
Lewisburg Federal Penitentary
- Henry Hill
- Paul Mazzei
About the Author
David Porter is an award-winning journalist who has written on a wide range of topics for newspapers, wire services and magazines over the past 24 years, most recently for The Associated Press.
His first book, “Fixed: How Goodfellas Bought Boston College Basketball” (Taylor Publishing, 2001), an account of a Mafia-influenced point-shaving scandal in the late 1970s, received a starred review in Publishers Weekly, which called it “well-researched” and “action-packed.” It was also described as “eye-opening” (Sacramento Bee), “compelling drama” (Chicago Sun-Times) and “powerful” (Sports Illustrated). The book is currently being developed by Sunset Pictures.
Mr. Porter has appeared as a guest on numerous radio and television shows, including FOX’s “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren,” MSNBC Live, ESPN’s “Outside The Lines,” National Public Radio’s “Only A Game,” “Talk Of The Nation” and “Radio Times” and Comcast Cablevision’s “Daily News Live.” He lives in New York City.