Hank Gathers received money from boosters as early as his freshman year at USC, according to his brother, Derrick Gathers, in deposition testimony filed Monday in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
Derrick Gathers also said his brother received about $50,000 while at Loyola Marymount from school booster Albert Gersten.
“He (Hank) started at SC,” Derrick said. “You know, he was getting money there from boosters. That’s what goes on in the NCAA.”
Gathers’ mother, Lucille, also said in her deposition testimony that Bo Kimble and Per Stumer, both former Loyola players, received money from Gersten.
The depositions were taken in connection with a $32.5-million wrongful death suit filed by the Gathers family against Loyola and 13 other defendants. Gathers collapsed March 4 while playing in a West Coast Conference tournament game, and died within two hours. An autopsy determined the cause of death as cardiomyopathy, a heart disorder.
The Times reported Dec. 27 that Derrick and Lucille Gathers claimed that Gersten gave Gathers money while he was on scholarship at Loyola.
Gersten, a Beverly Hills real estate developer who also owns fast-food franchises and is the largest of about 20 boosters who financed Gersten Pavilion, has denied the accusations.
Loyola officials have also denied knowledge of payments to any member of its team.
Kimble, on advice from his attorneys, said he will not comment on the allegations because of the pending litigation of the Gathers case.
Although Derrick Gathers used the plural “boosters” in reference to USC, he only identified Peter Priamos, a Torrance attorney, as giving his brother money. Priamos, Gathers and Kimble were the subject of a 1988 investigation by the Pacific 10 Conference for alleged violations at USC during the 1985-86 school season, for which the school was given a public reprimand.
The NCAA has a four-year statute of limitations to initiate an investigation.
The Pac-10 reported that two former USC players received free airplane tickets, meals and long-distance telephone calls from a Trojan booster, without the knowledge of Stan Morrison, then-Trojan coach. Neither the players nor the booster was identified by the Pac-10, but Kimble admitted that the plane tickets were for him and Gathers to return home for Christmas.
Priamos said Monday that he was the booster in question and that his involvement was investigated by the NCAA, which closed the matter. He admitted to paying for three trips to Philadelphia, two for Gathers and one for Kimble, but said that he was paid back by Father Dave Hagan, a Philadelphia priest who was close to Gathers and Kimble. He also said he let the players use his telephone for long distance calls, and that he bought them meals.
But Derrick Gathers’ testimony alluded to a wider scope than the four violations found dealing with Priamos.
In explaining Priamos’ relationship to Hank Gathers at USC, Derrick describes a booster as an “alumni of the school who sort of takes care of the players, gives them money and stuff, whatever they need.”
Priamos says he did not give Gathers money when he was at USC, but that his twin sons, Chris and Greg Priamos, did, and that Gathers paid them back. Priamos said he was told by Morrison that he could buy meals for Kimble and Gathers occasionally, but that his “interpretation of occasional was different,” he said.
Mike McGee, USC athletic director, said Monday that USC initiated the report to the Pac-10 of possible violations, and that the investigation was concluded.
“We also had a report that there may be someone other than Priamos involved,” McGee said from Nashville, Tenn., where he is attending the NCAA Convention. “But the conference came down and talked with the person and determined there wasn’t a connection. If there is further information then we will report it.”
Priamos also acknowledged giving Gathers and Kimble money when the two attended Loyola.
“When Hank and Bo went to Loyola, I gave them money and took care of them, but I wasn’t a Loyola booster,” Priamos said. “And I took care of Bo his senior year at Loyola, nobody else did, and I think it’s unfair what has been said lately regarding Bo.”
Priamos was referring to testimony by Lucille Gathers that she saw Kimble receive money from Gersten.
Priamos said he was the only booster who helped the two players at USC, and he is the only one who helped Kimble at Loyola his senior year.
“Everybody knew I helped Bo,” Priamos said. “They (Hank and Bo) were like sons to me.”
The testimony by Lucille and Derrick Gathers that Gathers received money from Gersten is pertinent to their lawsuit. In order for Lucille Gathers to sue for wrongful death, the strongest of six causes listed in the suit, she has to prove she was financially dependant on her son at the time of his death.
Lucille Gathers said that Gathers gave her $2,000 in cash and gifts from money he received from Gersten. Derrick Gathers said that his brothers got money from Gersten “after every game and when he needed it. . . . I mean, if he’d have a good game, then you know (he’d get money).
At first, Derrick Gathers could not estimate the amount of money that his brother was given by Gersten. However, upon prodding, he said it was around $50,000.
Derrick Gathers, who at the time was on a basketball scholarship at Cal State Northridge, said he also received money from Gersten, which he estimated to be less than $5,000.
In 1989, a Northridge team physician diagnosed Derrick Gathers as having a heart murmur. However, he could continue playing.
After Gathers death, from a heart disorder, Derrick Gathers was examined again and placed on heart medication. His condition, however, is dissimilar and believed to be unrelated to Gathers.
Lucille Gathers was hospitalized and eventually her condition was diagnosed as having an enlarged heart. Gathers’ 7-year-old son, Aaron Crump, was also tested for a possible heartbeat irregularity, and placed under observation. His condition is also unrelated to his fathers.
In her deposition, Lucille Gathers contends that she continuously tried to get information about her son’s condition from Hank’s doctors after he fainted during a game Dec. 9 at Santa Barbara, but she was unsuccessful. She says she was afraid for her son to play, but that her son trusted the doctors who gave him clearance.
Derrick Gathers said that Stefan Johnson, a friend of Gathers and a former NBA player, attended a meeting with Gathers and Dr. Clarence Shields, a member of the Kerlan-Jobe clinic that provided team doctors to Loyola. At the meeting, Johnson said that Gathers was informed by Dr. Shields that “in the worse case scenario, he (Hank) could die.”
Derrick Gathers said Johnson told him this in early 1990.
Lucille Gathers said that when she talked with Dr. Vernon Hattori, the cardiologist who treated Gathers, he told her he was going to do some other tests but it would not be until after the basketball season was over.
” . . . He said that it was so close near (the end) of the season, that I guess they wanted Hank to play,” Lucille Gathers said.