NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - Sherman White, a 1950s college basketball star at Long Island University who served jail time for point shaving, has died. He was 82.
White died of congestive heart failure on Aug. 4 at his home in Piscataway, N.J., his widow, Ellen, said Friday.
The 6-foot-8 White was one of the nation’s best college players for LIU in the late 1940s, and led the nation in scoring in 1951.
“He was way ahead of his time,” said former longtime St. John’s coach Lou Carnesecca, a member of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. “He was the first guy his size to play facing the basket. He was truly a great player and one of the best players of his time.”
White appeared destined for a successful NBA career, but he was arrested in 1951 for taking money to fix the outcomes of games.
Investigators found that between 1947 and 1950, 86 college games had been fixed and 32 players, including White and two teammates, were implicated. The scandal was centered in New York, where Madison Square Garden had college doubleheaders twice a week.
White served about eight months in jail and was barred from the NBA.
He played in basketball’s minor leagues for a while, and went on to work for a liquor distributor in northern New Jersey and mentored youngsters in Newark and in his hometown of Englewood.
His association with the point-shaving scandal “was the bane of his existence,” Ellen White said Friday. “It gnawed at him for all of his life, and that’s why he tried so hard to work with so many young men.”
White felt the ballplayers shouldered too much of the blame for the scandals.
“They’re still blaming the ballplayers entirely,” he told The New York Times in 1998. “Not that the ballplayers aren’t responsible for their actions, because they are. I’m not saying I didn’t do something wrong because I know I did something wrong.
“But there are a lot things that cause these scandals, not just the ballplayers. And if they don’t look out, they’re going to have another scandal.”
AP Basketball Writer Jim O’Connell in Springfield, Mass., contributed to this story.