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Teammate says Shackleford took money to shave points

By TERRY DONAHUE

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Former North Carolina State basketball player Charles Shackleford accepted money from a gambler to shave points in as many as four games, it was reported Wednesday.

Three people, including one of his Wolfpack teammates, told ABC News that Shackleford, a star center on the 1987-88 squad and three teammates conspired to fix a game between N.C. State and Wake Forest. The player alleged points were shaved in as many as three other games during the 1987-88 season. Shackleford currently plays for the New Jersey Nets.

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'You're gonna throw the ball away and make sure they get a layup out of it, you do whatever nesessary as that particular moment,' the teammate, his identity disguised, said Wednesday.

Gamblers can make big money by betting that an underdog team will beat the point spread set by bookmakers. In the game between N.C. State and Wake Forest, N.C. State was favored by 16 points but won by only four.

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Wolfpack Coach Jim Valvano said he never suspected his players of point-shaving.

'Obviously, I'm angry and bitterly disappointed (about the alleged scandal),' Valvano said after the Wolfpack suffered a 96-95 loss to Maryland Wednesday. 'I also feel helpless in terms of being a spectator, because I have no knowledge or idea of what happened or transpired.

'It's obviously a very difficult time for the program. As far as trying to prevent that (point-shaving), we have the FBI come in and speak to our kids every year to discuss outside influences. We let the kids know what's right and what's wrong.'

ABC reported 32-year-old Robert Kramer masterminded the conspiracy. The three sources said Kramer paid four players as much as $1,000 each per game, using Shackleford to distribute the cash.

Kramer admitted giving about $6,000 in cash to Shackleford during the 1987-88 season, but he insists it was to help him resist an unscrupulous agent, who was pressuring Shackleford to leave school and turn professional.

'He did not engage in point-shaving,' said Gerrard Hanlon, Kramer's lawyer. 'He did not conspire with anyone to engage in point-shaving.'

Several sources told the station, including a former roommate, that Kramer has a history of heavy sports betting. Kramer's home phone records, obtained by ABC News, revealed more than 330 calls to his bookmaker and sports update lines in a one-month period.

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Under NCAA rules, Shackleford would be ineligible to play if he accepted money while playing for N.C. State. The NCAA could order the school to repay revenues earned from postseason tournaments in 1987-88 because of the payments.

The N.C. State basketball program is currently on probation for improprieties following a probe by the NCAA last year.

'It was just basically for the money because you didn't have the money to eat when the cafeteria was closed,' the teammate said. 'It was justice in a sense, that here we are, kids playing for a big-time college team, and they are brining in thousands of dollars a year by playing on TV.'

Shackleford has admitted he accepted almost $65,000 from Kramer and another man with North Carolina connections during the 1987-88 season.

Several North Carolina newspapers said the State Bureau of Investigation is considering a 'full-fledged' investigation into the point-shaving allegations.

'About three months ago, we had information that a player at State had been paid a large sum of money,' SBI Director Robert Morgan said. 'We felt that was enough to warrant a preliminary inquiry into whether a criminal offense was committed.'

Citing unnamed sources in the SBI, the Greensboro News & Record reported Wednesday that Benny Bolton figures prominently in the probe of the NCAA Division II University of Tampa's 67-62 upset of the Wolfpack on Dec. 27, 1986, in Florida.

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SBI sources told the News & Record that the player in question is Bolton, who played for the Wolfpack from 1984-87, and was captain of the team his senior year.

Bolton went into the Tampa contest averaging 16.9 points a game. But he scored only six against the Spartans, taking four field goal attempts in 21 minutes.

Shackleford claimed he had taken the cash because he needed money. Salvatore DiFazio, Shackleford's agent, said the player has since repaid the two men the money plus interest.

Larry Gillman, a former East Carolina University head basketball coach, was named by The News and Record as the second party who gave Shackleford money. Gillman's February 1979 resignation was surrounded by controversy. He has declined to talk with reporters at his Richfield, Conn., home.

The allegations were revealed last week when a reporter for ABC News questioned Valvano about several allegations, including one of point-shaving. N.C. State officials turned over the information to the SBI and the NCAA, which may begin an investigation of its own.

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