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ESPN finishes documentary series with piece on Southern Methodist

"Pony Excess," a two-hour film on the SMU football program of the 1980s, will air at 8 p.m. Saturday
by Mel Bracht Modified: December 9, 2010 at 4:55 pm •  Published: December 9, 2010

“It's changed significantly,” James said. “We didn't know what rules were out there, truly. Nowadays there are compliance officers at all these schools. You have rules posted in the locker room about what you can and cannot do.”

The film looks back at the recruiting battle for Dickerson and how he became the focus of NCAA investigators after he showed up at Sealy High School driving a new Pontiac Trans-Am.

“As soon as the car showed up, they showed up at my house,” Dickerson said of the NCAA investigators. “They came to my house every day for one month straight.”

Dickerson denied that illegal inducements were the reason he came to SMU.

“Anything I did receive from SMU, if any, it didn't come close to some things I was offered from other schools,” he said. “It wasn't even in the same area code. I chose that school because basically my grandmother wanted me to go there.”

The film looks at how the competitive Dallas media market placed the SMU program under a microscope. In a powerful piece of TV journalism, WFAA sports director Dale Hansen interviewed SMU linebacker David Stanley in which he revealed that he had received payments of $750 a month from recruiting coordinator Henry Lee Parker. That revelation led to the NCAA investigation that resulted in SMU receiving “the death penalty” on Feb. 26, 1987, shutting down the program for one year.

by Mel Bracht
Copy Editor, Sports Media
Mel Bracht is a copy editor on the presentation desk and also covers sports media. A 1978 graduate of Indiana University, Bracht has been a print journalist for 34 years. He started his career as sports editor of the Rensselaer (Ind.) Republican...
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