Fr, John Lo Schiavo
The Reverend John Lo Schiavo, who died two days ago, was a brave and honest man who stood up for his beliefs in 1982 when he shut down the basketball program for numerous violations of NCAA rule.
The Dons had a very successful program going, winning the first 29 games one season and being a big-time player for many seasons. But the violations of NCAA rules kept coming, and star player Quintin Dailey confessed to sexually abusing a nursing student in her dorm.
Fr. Lo Schiavo had traveled to NCAA headquarters when the USF program had first been flagged for numerous violations and had promised it wouldnít happen again. But, it did, and he wasnít going to make another trip.
So, he shut down the program indefinitely.
I did not know Fr. Lo Schiavo at that point, and it might have seemed that I would oppose the move. I was not Catholic, so I had no reason to worry about the schoolís reputation, and I had been close to the coaches, Bob Gaillard and Dan Belluomini.
But, I also believed that a school run by a church had a special obligation to run a clean program.
So, I wrote a column supporting Fr. Lo Schiavoís action.
Others in the sports media disagreed. Ralph Barbieri, a graduate of USF, was livid, denouncing the shutdown at length in his KNBR program.
Fr. Lo Schiavo appreciated my support and we greeted each other warmly whenever we saw each other. One such occasion was at golf tournaments in the area. Fr. Lo Schiavo was an avid golfer and I enjoyed following golfers, much more than actually playing myself.
The last time I saw him was at an awards ceremony honoring top USF athletes. My wife and I were there because Richard Dwyer was among those honored; Iím one of Richardís one thousand friends.
Fr. Lo Schiavo looked healthy and, thanks to his tireless efforts, so was USF. He had encouraged money-raising efforts that had made the school solvent, while educational standards were raised.
Itís quite likely that, without his efforts, USF would have shut its doors. Instead, itís thrived and even added extra class rooms on Lone Mountain, where he had his office.
Those who followed him on his journeys through San Francisco talked about all the people he had greeted as friends, giving advice when asked.
When he died at 90, he left a legacy of helping people. And Iím sure he had a smile on his face.
What do YOU think? Let me know!
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