by Maxwell Smart
Strolling nonchalantly down a Kansas City street, I step casually into a
telephone booth, deposit a quarter, and dial a seven digit number. Instantly,
I am transported by high speed elevator to a subterranean corridor. I follow
the hallway to the end, and then turn around to watch half a dozen iron doors
slide shut behind me.
"Ouch!" I exclaim, holding my nose after the last door closes on it.
"Velcome to ze headquarters of ze NCAA, special agent 86," greets the bald man
behind an oak desk in a faintly German accent.
"Nice digs Chief," I reply, noting the gilded fixtures around the room. "A
whole lot classier than the Hyatt Regency that the tournament selection
committee stays in across town."
"Ve have to be very careful about our public image," notes the Chief. "There
are some who might question our commitment to amateurism if they discovered
our true headquarters."
"Of course," I nod in agreement. "So whatís my next mission Chief?"
The Chief presses a button and the Cone of Silence descends down over our
heads. The Chief carefully explains my mission to me, and then raises the
transparent cone back to the ceiling.
"Got it 86?" asks the Chief.
"No," I shake my head. "All I heard was silence."
"OK let me explain to you again," snaps the annoyed Chief. "Ve have become
avare of an organization which so fundamentally threatens our vay of life so
that it must be stopped at all costs."
"Our old enemies at CHAOS must be at it again," I reply.
"No," corrects the chief. "Iím referring of course to the Boilermakers of
Purdue. They are no longer content to merely dominate the Big Ten. They have
set their sights on world domination, and they will stop at nothing to lure
the best young basketball talents to their lair in West Lafayette. You must
stop them before it is too late. But I must warn you, their mastermind Gene
Keady has great looking hair and is clever beyond imagination. And his
henchman Frank Kendrick is ruthless. From this moment on you will be living in
"And loving it," I add with a smile.
Two weeks later, I pull my standard NCAA-issue Lexus to a halt in front of a
small row house in a working class neighborhood, swerving to avoid the late
model sport utility vehicle parked by the curb.
"Whew!" I tell myself, holding up my thumb and index finger. "Missed it by
I knock on the door of the house and am greeted by an exceedingly tall young
"You must be the investigator from the NCAA," says the young man, inviting me
"You should be careful how you park your sport utility vehicle," I tell the
"Oh thatís not mine," he replies. "It was leased to my sister by the fellow
"Well," I say, taking a seat. "Youíre certainly a tough to get hold of. Iíve
been trying for over a week now."
"Thatís because my family and I have been in the Caribbean," answers the young
prospect. "That man from Kansas has been sending us there every year since I
was in junior high."
"A clever attempt to change the subject," I note, "But Iím here to talk about
Purdue today. How much have they offered you to join their evil plan for world
"Nothing," answers the young man.
"We happen to know that you paid a little visit to the Purdue campus
recently," I remind him. "Are you sure you didnít transact a little business?"
The young man blushes and nods. Now we are getting somewhere. Walking over to
the desk, he lifts up a Federal Express package. A stack of hundred dollar
bills falls from the package onto the floor.
"I keep asking the folks at Kentucky to seal their FEDEX packages better,"
says the young man, picking up a piece of paper from beneath the FEDEX
package. "Here it is. My little sisterís been selling Girl Scout cookies. Mr.
Keady signed up for two boxes of thin mints."
"T-H-I-N M-I-N-T-S," I scribble carefully into my notebook.
"And were you impressed by the extravagant lifestyle of the Purdue players?" I
ask. "Fast cars? Fancy clothes? Gold chains?"
"No, but one guy has a great secondhand loveseat in his living room.," replies
the young prospect.
"S-O-F-A," I dutifully record.
"And were there strippers?" I inquire, remembering stories about West
Lafayetteís notorious nightlife.
"No, that was the Michigan trip," answers the young man.
"Donít try to change the subject," I snap. "Surely you brought a little
something else back with you."
"OK," admits the young man. "Youíve got me."
He goes to his room and returns with a plastic bag with the word ĎFOLLETSí
written on it.
"So they gave you this sweatshirt?" I ask, examining the contents of the bag.
"No," said the young recruit. "I paid for it myself. I asked Mr. Kendrick and
he gave me directions to the bookstore."
"So Kendrick F-A-C-I-L-I-T-A-T-E-D this purchase," I write in my notebook.
"Well, I guess so," confesses the young man.
"And whatís this?" I demand from the young man, holding up a cardboard flier.
"The clerk slipped that in the bag," the prospect answers.
"You mean the booster slipped that into the bag," I correct.
"He was just a student clerk at the bookstore," explains the young man.
"If heís a student, then heís a future alumni," I say, explaining the NCAA
regulations. "And if heís been to a basketball game, then heís a booster."
"Yeah," nods the young man. "He put that into the bag."
"Letís see what this flier says," I say, recording as I read the aloud the
cash inducement: "Student applicants may be eligible to receive up to $4000
cash or credit from their Citibank VISA card."
"Did Mr. Kendrick ever tell you that you would have to pay this loan back?" I
"Well no," stammered the recruit.
"I think I have all I need here," I say, closing my notebook.
"You know," said the recruit as he showed me to the door. "Iím not even going
to Purdue. Cincinnati was the only school that could fix my transcripts so I
can play. And besides, I told Mr. Kendrick that my mom didnít have any way to
get to the Purdue games."
"And what did Mr. Kendrick say to that?" I wondered, opening my notebook for
one last entry.
"He said maybe mom could ask a friend to take her to the games," said the
ĎF-R-I-E-N-D,í I write.
Two days later I present my finished report to the Chief of Enforcement at
NCAA headquarters below the streets of Kansas City.
"I think youíll find everything you need, all wrapped up in a neat little
package," I tell the Chief. "I even included the phone number of Gene Keadyís
"Excellent Verk, Mr. Smart," congratulates the Chief.
Once outside of headquarters, I remove my shoe and dial Agent 99 on my shoe
"99," I report. "Iíve located the new headquarters of CHAOS. Itís in Kansas
City and theyíre masquerading as an amateur sports organization."
"What tipped you off that the head of the enforcement division wasnít the real
Chief, Max?" asks 99. "Was it the bad German accent?"
"No 99," I respond. "Gene Keady may be a basketball genius, but only a twisted
mind would want to enlist the services of his barber. If only they had used
their power for niceness instead of evil"