Entering Matadors' Minds

News item: Cal State Northridge is investigating academic fraud allegations brought against women's volleyball standout Nancy Ma, a junior from China who speaks limited English.

Accusations and rebuttals have been flying since last week when Nicki Midwin, a former Matador player, said she did schoolwork for Ma and watched someone help Ma complete a test in a psychology class.

Another former teammate, Ellie Flato, said she also did schoolwork for Ma. Midwin said Coach Lian Lu and assistant Kathleen O'Laughlin knew. The coaches deny the charges.

Here's what some of the protagonists said and what they were really thinking, according to our psychic friends:

"I'm anxious to get [the investigation] finished up, but I don't want to leave a stone unturned."

--Judy Brame, associate athletic director.

Meant to say: "I'd rather have kidney stones than do this."

"Brame still has some people to contact, but she has learned so far that there is nothing to substantiate this claim."

--Ryan Finney, assistant athletic director.

Meant to say: "Brame looked under Oliver Stone, Sharon Stone and the Rolling Stones, and found nothing."

"They helped each other; [Ma and Midwin] are very good friends. I don't know anything about it. We know the rules [are] very clear. Our coaches would never do that."

--Lu, who is also from China.

Meant to say: "Ma said there'd be days like this."

"[The allegation] is totally false . . . I've never done anything like that and I never will."


Meant to say: "Tell me again why I want to be in this business?"

"If you have staff members knowledgeable of a violation going on, it increases the severity of the problem and increases the penalty."

--Mark Jones, a director of rules enforcement at the NCAA.

Meant to say: "If this is true, they ought to call Kevorkian for the program."

"During road trips, everyone pretty much [brought] their own work, and I'd usually be doing my own thing."

--Rene Goth, former Northridge player.

Meant to say: "I'm not about to end up in Whistle Blowers Anonymous."

"There was sufficient evidence [Ma] could succeed at this university."

--Ronald Kopita, vice president of student affairs.

Meant to say: "Even though she flunked the English proficiency test, we let her in because she can really pound the ball.

"To say she doesn't speak English at all is nonsense. How else would the university accept her?"

--Man named Yao, who said he's a friend of Ma's.

Meant to say: "They'll take anyone at Northridge."

"We are distressed by this report, particularly because there are procedures in place for both the university and the NCAA to deal with such matters."

--Blenda J. Wilson, school president.

Meant to say: "Had they hired me to run Wayne State last August, I wouldn't be in this mess."

"At this point, both coaches are still coaching and Nancy is still a player on the team."


Meant to say: "Somebody pass the aspirin."

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