Since the Jerry Joseph/ Guerdwich Montimere incident at a high school in Odessa, Texas, the NCAA rules committee has quietly been opening its books on past identity inquiries that were shelved due to lack of sufficient evidence. One of those cases being reopened concerns violations allegedly perpetrated by the Iowa State men’s basketball team. The long list of allegations find their roots in a popular TV sitcom and ABC’s TGIF mainstay from 1989-1997.
"It all started when Iowa State recruited Stevie Johnson," said T. Ferguson, rules committee chairman and former ABC television executive in the 90s. "I was in Ames visiting my grandmother and decided to duck in on the Iowa State and Kansas game at Hilton Coliseum. Imagine my surprise when I see him out there shooting around? I stood courtside, finally his gaze met mine. He knew and I knew. That was Waldo Geraldo Faldo."
According to Ferguson, Faldo—a beloved regular on the sitcom Family Matters—had gone missing after the season wrapped in 1996. As concern mounted at ABC, a national manhunt was underway for Faldo. The search grew stale and soon Faldo was forgotten, until that fateful day in the spring of 1997.
"I mean, it was awful. Eddie and Waldo went off to college and the next thing you know, he’s gone. The Winslow’s never heard from him again. Eddie was inconsolable. It’s really sad if you think about it," Ferguson said.
Ferguson tried to talk to Faldo, or "Johnson" as he was calling himself, but was promptly whisked away by Hilton security. Numerous phone calls went unanswered. Soon, with his own money bankrolling the endeavor, Ferguson launched an investigation. He hoped that if he blew the lid off the cover up, Faldo would come home. His investigation was mostly ignored by the NCAA, that is until 1999 when Brandon Hawkins first stepped foot on the Iowa State campus.
"I couldn’t fucking believe it," Ferguson recalled. "It was like the world was laughing at me. Here’s this guy, ‘Wayne’ they called him. Are people just idiots? Look at him? That’s Carl Winslow if I ever seen him!"
Ferguson rushed the floor and promptly put Morgan in a camel clutch, screaming "Say you’re Carl! Say you’re Carl! Come on big guy!" Ferguson was soon beaten down by Los Angeles police and found himself in jail. Upon release, he made his way to the Long Beach State practice facility. Morgan was gone.
"Iowa State was laughing at me," Ferguson said. "They hired up Carl that night and shipped him to Ames. I couldn’t understand it. Why are these people so ashamed of Family Matters? It was a good damn show! You don’t need to run to Iowa to hide from it. Embrace it. Cash your royalty checks. Make a guest appearance on Hollywood Squares. The obsession continued for me. I had to know why. Why Family Matters? Why ISU?"
Morgan served as assistant under Larry Eustachy until a scandal broke out in 2003 that showed Eustachy drinking and partying with co-eds. Morgan was soon promoted to head coach. Ferguson quit his job, washed his hands repeatedly, and moved back to the heartland.
Lurking in the shadows of Hilton Coliseum for three long seasons, Ferguson quietly began collecting information. He was hired on to the Hilton custodian crew. Every night he’d clean the basketball offices. He compiled files upon files on Morgan, including numerous empty Twinkie wrappers (Winslow’s favorite snack), correspondence from "Johnson" in Iceland, letters from Balki Bartokomous stamped in Mypos, and the smoking gun that would blow the case wide open – a policeman’s uniform tucked away in Morgan’s closet.
"I had the chunky bastard," Ferguson said, smiling ear to ear. "Finally, I was going to have my day."
Ferguson presented his evidence to the NCAA, and they again put him on the payroll. Armed with his files, they presented the case to Greg Geoffroy and Jamie Pollard, ISU’s president and athletic director respectively. They could no longer deny it, and agreed to go public the following week.
When, Ferguson woke up the next morning. The headline across the Ames Tribune front page read "Wayne Morgan Fired."
"They fucked us. They fired him before we could get the truth out there. My superiors didn’t want to come forward with the information now. They said Geoffroy threatened to sue because I ‘illegally’ obtained my evidence. What a douche bag," Ferguson said. "The best part is, Iowa State fans didn’t even question ‘Why?’ he was being fired. Are you fucking serious? The man was coming off three winning seasons, two of them in the post season, and you think it’s perfectly normal for him to get fired for no reason? Are they taking stupid pills or something? Not to mention the fact, I mean, look at him! That’s Carl Fucking Winslow!"
It’s been a long four years since Ferguson last opened the case on ISU and Family Matters. In the mean time, he found himself little victories along the way working with the NCAA rules committee. In 2007, he declared Lucca Staiger ineligible for his freshman season at ISU.
"That felt good," Ferguson said with a shit-eating grin. "But not near as good as it felt to watch them get their ass handed to them game after game under Greg McDermott. They say living well is the best revenge. I say having to hire, and stay with, a shitty coach for four years because you are covering up a Family Matters recruiting pipeline is the best revenge."
And Ferguson thought it was all behind him. That is, until he saw Fred Hoiberg’s first recruiting class included Calvin Godfrey, a power forward from Minnesota.
"I’ve had my eye on that kid for a while now," Ferguson said. "I knew he’d end up at ISU. When you see him, tell Eddie I say ‘Hi.’"