Camby Clouded by Controversy

November 15, 1997
He says he feels no guilt. None. Marcus Camby shredded the NCAA code of conduct, then took the money, and left the University of Massachusetts holding the bag. But he says his conscience is clear.

"I don't feel guilty about anything," the second-year Raptor said prior to last night's 103-99 loss to theCeltics at the New Garden, in which he fouled out 2:42 from the end with 11 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 blocks. "Last year I probably would have said I felt guilty, but a lot of stuff was said that wasn't true." 

We know this to be true:

During his junior season at UMass, when Camby was leading the Minutemen to a 35-2 record and a trip to the Final Four, agents Wesley Spears and John Lounsbury both showered him with gifts and cash in an effort to entice him to retain their services when he turned professional.

Camby admitted that he accepted cash and gifts from Spears and $ 2,000 from Lounsbury. He later secretly repaid Lounsbury $ 28,000 so the agent wouldn't be killed by loan sharks.

In addition, two of Camby's friends, Boris Wray and Tamia Murray, allegedly accepted jewelry, clothing, rental cars, and a trip to a UMass NCAA tournament game in Atlanta.

Camby admitted that while at UMass, he had sex with two female prostitutes supplied by Spears. He also indicted teammate Charlton Clarke (still at UMass) as a participant in the sex scam.

In the spring of 1996, Camby stiffed both Spears and Lounsbury, signing with ProServ Inc., then inked a three-year, $ 8.4 million contract with the Raptors.

As a result of Camby's infractions, the NCAA in June '97 stripped UMass of its Final Four appearance and ordered the school to return $ 151,000 in tournament money. Three days after the sanctions came down, Camby was arrested in Connecticut and eventually agreed to perform community service to avoid a marijuana possession charge. He was also involved (but not arrested) in a Hartford nightclub melee in which 17 people were arrested, one of whom claimed to be Camby's bodyguard.

But there's no guilt.

"Every time I come to Boston, I don't want those questions to be asked," he said. "I can't wait for the day I can come to Boston and not be asked about those things. That's in the past."

It may not be in the past for the Minutemen, who struggled last season and will need more time to recover from the residual damage of Camby's capers.

"I suppose it could be a setback recruitingwise," acknowledged Camby. "Charlton Clarke and Tyrone Weeks are the only guys still there that I played with. I don't know how they're going to do. Tyrone is like a brother to me. I talk to him every other day."

He said he paid UMass the $ 151,000 it had to return to the NCAA.

"I'm done with everything. I apologized enough. I'm not from Boston. I'm from Hartford, Conn. I don't care if people boo and say negative things about me in the papers. I'm getting on with my life. This held me down a little last year, but I don't want to carry negative energy which I don't need now.

"I had a great time in my three years at UMass. I wouldn't change anything. They say now that we didn't go to the Final Four, but we have our Final Four rings and we lived it and people saw us on television. We were there."

He should be remorseful, but that's probably asking too much of a young man who could not wait an extra six months to get his cash. Camby's greed and selfishness hurt his teammates and the school that was good to him. Now they're all back in Amherst picking up the pieces while he earns millions in pro ball. Some New England fans showed their dissatisfaction by booing him last night. Good. Camby's earned the boos.

But there's another weasel in all this, and he'll be at the New Garden next Friday with the New Jersey Nets. John Calipari deserves a huge share of the blame for Camby's misbehavior at UMass. Coach Cal knew the kid was bound to succumb to temptation. But Cal didn't monitor his star player. Or maybe he did and he decided to look the other way. In either event, Calipari got out of Dodge before the sun went down, just as we knew he would.

Save some of the boos for Coach Cal next Friday night.

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