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Jury Clears Ex-Tulane Star Williams of Point-Shaving Charges

A six-member jury in New Orleans unanimously declared John (Hot Rod) Williams innocent Monday on all five counts of a sports bribery scheme that caused Tulane University to abandon its men’s basketball program.

“Now, I feel like I can go on and do the things I want to do in life,” said Williams, whose professional basketball career has been on hold for a year. “My life was in their hands.”

He was arrested March 26, 1985. In an impromptu press conference held as Williams was being led, handcuffed, into his offices, District Attorney Harry Connick outlined numerous NCAA violations accompanying the point-shaving allegations. Tulane dropped its men’s basketball program the next month.

The Cleveland Cavaliers used a second-round pick for the rights to Williams in the 1985 draft, but because of the point-shaving charges the National Basketball Assn. would not permit the team to sign Williams.

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Although the NBA maintains that Cleveland still has the rights to Williams, there were indications that his agent might use the year without a contract as a bargaining wedge and insist that the 6-11 forward is a free agent. Williams would not discuss that.

The Cavaliers, despite Williams’ hedging, said that the big forward has already signed a contract with them.

“The Cavs have signed a contract with John and look forward to him being an important part of the team in the years ahead,” the team said in a release. “We have at all times been confident that John would be vindicated when the matter finally came to trial.”

Williams, 24, faced a total of 17 years in prison and $35,000 in fines, if convicted on all counts.

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