SAE VERDICT IN

by Michica N. Guillory

Daily Cougar Staff

A district criminal court jury found a former president of the UH chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon guilty Wednesday of aggravated assault.

Steve Jack Ferro, a senior, bit off the tip of a Carrin Huber's pinky finger at a fraternity party August 24, 1991.

Ferro's sentencing, which came after two days of testimony, includes two years probation and a $2,000 fine.

Because the sentence was probated, Ferro will not have to serve a one year jail term as long as he successfully completes his probation.

"We will (also) be asking for compensation of the medical bills," said assistant District Attorney Denise Nassar.

However, the bills haven't been tabulated yet. "We will have to wait until next week," she said.

Ferro's attorney Joe Bailey could not be contacted.

The highly publicized incident began with a brawl between the victim's 19-year-old boyfriend, Kevin Schramm, and Ferro after the couple was reportedly asked to leave the party.

Prior reports on the incident said that Ferro forced Huber's finger into his mouth and severed it. However, several witnesses testified and Bailey said the victim's finger was unintentionally bitten off.

Bailey also stated earlier that Huber's purpose in intervening was to give her boyfriend an advantage by pulling Ferro's hair and choking him.

That night represented a fateful turn of events for the fraternity. It prompted the university to disband the UH-SAE chapter for four years in December of 1991.

 

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FORMER COACH ASSISTS NCAA INVESTIGATION

by Dai Huynh

Daily Cougar Staff

Former football assistant coach Steve Staggs' reassignment to assist in the probe of NCAA violations and improprieties in the UH football program "was the right thing to do," Athletics Director Bill Carr said.

Football head coach John Jenkins had asked Staggs to resign from his position, but Staggs refused, Carr said. "As director of athletics, I had a person who was an assistant football coach that was no longer functioning as one," he said.

Based on the advice and counsel of the university, "We simply moved him out of the football office," Carr said.

"What we did was attempt to put him in a position where he can (provide information), without any digress or concern about his position with the department," he said.

Several UH football players and Staggs came forward with allegations against Jenkins. They include: improper mandatory summer workouts, practicing more than the NCAA 20-hour limit, inserting sexually explicit material into films during training sessions and paying for a recruit's summer classes.

As for Staggs' employment status after the investigation, Carr said, "I don't know. We have to take this one step at a time.

"We told him that 'until this thing is resolved, don't worry about anything else, just tell us what you have to say.' "

In response, Staggs said he understands and agrees with Carr's comment about his future with the university.

"First thing (Carr's) got to do is to look into these allegations and see if there's any merit to them," Staggs said. "He has given the proper response. He's got to get the facts first. There are two sides to this story."

Carr said Staggs' new job entails telling the university what he knows.

"He has no responsibility to evaluate other people's comments, to solicit other people's comments. He's not an investigator. He's a source of information," Carr added.

Staggs continues to receive his $38,000 salary in his new job.

"Whether or not Mr. Staggs' allegations are collaborated is a matter we have to look at and see what happens," Carr said.

To date, UH President James Pickering has not set a deadline for the investigation.

"Mr. Carr will one day walk in and say 'I'm finished,' but clearly, the sooner the better. I think the most important thing is that it's done to his satisfaction in terms of thoroughness," Pickering said.

Carr said, "We don't want this to go on forever. He (Pickering) wants us to bring it to closure, and we want to do that. "However, to be chronologically bound is something I can't comment on definitively," Carr said, "because I may be at a point where I think we're almost finished and then I learn additional information, and it extends the whole process. We're moving as thoroughly and expeditiously as we can."

A source within the administration said Pickering is scheduled to meet with Carr this week to discuss current investigation findings and their implications.

 

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ON CAMPUS

The 18th Annual Sigma Chi Fight Night swings into action tonight at 7 p.m. in Jeppesen Gym.

Organizers project the 10 bouts, which include three one-minute rounds each, will raise about $1,000 for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Other monies will be donated to benefit Special Olympics and the Children's Miracle Network.

It's been a year since the Amateur Boxing Federation determined the event would not be sanctioned, and although legal problems threatened to postpone the event indefinitely, many of the differences between Sigma Chi and ABF have been ironed out.

"It's more fun than it is a real death defying sport. A lot of times they (the boxers) are friends," said Sigma Chi senior Russell Hruska.

Tickets for the event cost $6 and can be purchased at the door.

 

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MEMORIES

by Kelechi Osuji

News Reporter

The UH community will come together today to remember faculty, staff, students and friends who have died in the past year.

The campus-wide annual memorial service will be held at noon in the AD Bruce Religion Center Chapel.

The service is being sponsored by the Campus Ministries Association.

Mary Comeaux, chair of the memorial service committee, said, "Some of these deaths have touched us personally as ministers and also have touched people we are connected to. We thought people in the university community might want to gather in support of the families."

The center will be filled with people who have lost love ones and friends who have come to share, support and pray with them to remember those loved ones.

The service will begin with an opening prayer and will include scripture readings and brief sentiments.

Comeaux said the deaths are not just a loss to the family, but a loss to the whole community.

She said the names of the deceased came from the different departments on campus and will be read aloud along with a brief statement of their affiliation with the university.

The religion center began holding memorial services in 1986. Since then it has held a memorial service for the Challenger crew and also holds individual memorial services as requested.

 

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PICKERING: IT'S NOT TOO LATE TO FEND OFF CUTS

Compiled from staff reports

As The Daily Cougar reported Wednesday, UH is slated to lose more than $14 million next year if funding bills currently in the Legislature are passed. That's a budget reduction of more than 12 percent -- the largest cutback of all 37 state institutions.

According to a memo from UH President James Pickering on Monday, "Many of our representatives (on the Appropriations Conference Committee) are actively working to ensure that the university's budget is not cut more than others. We are hearing that there has been a strong outpouring of support from our alumni and from our campus community to the members of the Legislature."

While Pickering concedes that the message is making an impact, he warns that it's too early to relax.

Pickering's concerns are being echoed in the business community as well. According to a Sunday opinion piece in the Houston Chronicle, Jack Blanton, the chairman of the board of Houston Endowment, and Mark Shapiro, president of Texas Commerce Bank, said, "UH is facing financial reductions of potentially devastating proportions."

Pickering, however, has outlined ways for students, faculty and staff to support UH's lobbying efforts.

"If you want to play a role, you could write a letter to a member of the Harris County delegation or to the governor, the lieutenant governor or the speaker, and thank that person for helping Houston and UH -- offer to help him or her in any way you can to support what is being done to help the university.

"You could pass information on to friends and colleagues about the need to maintain the university's programs.

"Remember: If you plan to contact any member of the state Legislature, you must do it as a private citizen -- not using any state resources, letterhead, postage, computing time, etc.

<I>Appropriations Conference Committee<P>

-Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock

-Speaker of the House Pete Laney

<I>Senate Appointments:<P>

John Montford -- Lubbock

Carl Parker -- Port Arthur

Teel Bivins -- Amarillo

Judith Zaffirini - Laredo

Rodney Ellis -- HOUSTON

<I>House Appointments:<P>

Robert Junell -- San Angelo

Nancy McDonald -- El Paso

Pete Gallego -- Alpine

Karyne Conley -- San Antonio

Talmadge Heflin -- HOUSTON

 

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HOME GROWN

by Heather Ellis

Daily Cougar Staff

A group of teenage boys in beat-up Converse tennis shoes spent many a winter night in wide-eyed wonder watching the Cougars play basketball on the hardwood floor of Hofheinz Pavilion.

Among that group there was one boy, an athlete himself, who would always remember the flashes of red speeding up and down the court and the sound of the cheering crowd.

Now Alvin Brooks, the man, is the head coach of the basketball team he admired in his youth.

Brooks is a hometown product, born and raised in the Fifth Ward and a graduate of Wheatley High School.

"When I was a student at Wheatley, we perceived the University of Houston as a great institution with strong athletics and academics," Brooks said.

Brooks' connection with the city of Houston and the Fifth Ward has heightened his commitment to the community he grew up in.

"Since I have been named to the coaching position, there have been a lot of phone calls and letters for me. I feel like there has been great support. I would like to parlay that to bridge the gap between the school and the community," Brooks said.

When Brooks was named to the coaching position, replacing Pat Foster, he set a list of goals to fulfill. He wants to change the approach to the student-athletes, giving them room to be strong academically, as well as athletically.

"We have an open-door policy here, and while it is still professional, we want to stress and improve the graduation rate and be here for the student-athletes," he said.

Brooks isn't limiting his influence to the classroom alone. He wants to shake up the style of play on the court, too.

"We relied on matchup zone last season," Brooks said. "In the future, we will play more man-to-man and set up zone traps on full court. Offensively, we average 82 points a game, so we will concentrate on our defense."

Brooks is also working on completing his staff.

"I want people on my staff who care about the student-athlete beyond athletics," Brooks said. "One of the guys that I have talked to is Otis Birdsong. He could bring a lot to our staff."

Assistant Athletic Director Bill McGillis, who was instrumental in naming Brooks to the position, said Brooks is the right choice.

"Alvin Brooks is the best person to fit the criteria that we had set," McGillis said. "His relationship with the community is important."

Well aware of the image problem that exists in and around the Southwest Conference, Brooks said there are steps that can be taken to improve the situation.

"We beat Louisville on national television this past season, and Texas Tech beat Tulane last year," Brooks said. "If we can play high-ranked teams on our turf, we have a better chance.

"Hatch (SWC commissioner Steve Hatchell) has the right approach of marketing the league. Kids want to be on television, even if it is at ten o' clock at night. We have a marketable product here that we can get on television," he said.

Brooks knows a good thing when he sees it, having been involved in basketball since high school. He played at Lamar, where he established school records for the most assists in a game. He then moved on to an assistant coaching position under Pat Foster at Lamar University.

Brooks followed Foster to UH after that, and the rest is history.

Brooks' migration to the basketball court was slightly diverted by a stint with a bat and a glove.

The baseball diamond, not the basketball court, proved to be Brooks' initial playing grounds.

"Baseball was my first love. I played second base and would probably still be playing today. I just grew up in the wrong neighborhood."

Thanks to Brooks' aunt, Janice, his athletic inclinations were directed to the basketball hoop instead.

"My aunt gave me an old pair of her Converse tennis shoes that I grew into. I have been playing basketball ever since," he said.

The youngest of three children, Brooks has two older sisters and a family full of strong teaching examples.

From his early days as an avid Cougar fan to his present job as the coach, he continues to apply his own philosophy to life.

"I always want to be better today than I was yesterday, and better tomorrow than I was today."

 

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ON CAMPUS

The Spaghetti Warehouse and the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association

(HSMA) of the Hilton College at UH are holding the First Annual Spaghetti Eating Contest today.

HSMA and the Spaghetti Warehouse will donate some of the proceeds to the Star of Hope Shelter. The remainder will benefit the Hilton College Scholarship Fund and UH.

The contest runs from 11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. at Lynn Eusan Park behind the Hilton College. You can drop entry forms off at the front desk of the Hilton Hotel.

You can also look forward to a day filled with great food, prizes, two bands, and a few surprises. For those who don't want to compete, but would like to join in the festivities, there will be food booths selling spaghetti, lasagna, coke, and beer.

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