Originally created 05/12/02

Third check surfaces in Tennessee scandal



MOBILE, Ala. - A third check worth $1,500 was given to the sports writer who has said he forwarded $4,500 to then-University of Tennessee star quarterback Tee Martin, an insurance company official said.

The Mobile Register sports writer, Wayne Rowe, resigned Friday as a result of the scandal. Rowe has said that he did not profit in any way. But Martin, a native of Mobile, knew Rowe's children and played video games with them.

Gene Stuckey, a manager of AARCO Insurance Agency Inc. of Mobile, said Friday former company president and Tennessee booster Dianne Sanford signed the third check worth $1,500 to Rowe.

Rowe, 46, said he didn't know what happened to the $1,500, although he has said he cashed two checks worth $4,500 made out to him by Sanford. He said he wired the money to Martin in February 1999. Rowe said he believed the checks were needed for an urgent car repair.

"I'm not clear on that," Rowe said. "I don't know what happened with that money. ... I don't know. I'm not even clear about the money. I've been under a lot of stress. I'm just tired of all of it. I'm done with it. I'm moving on."

The Southeastern Conference and Internal Revenue Service are investigating. Officials there have refused to comment because it's an ongoing investigation.

Martin, who as a junior led Tennessee to the national championship in 1998, now is a backup quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers and is playing this summer in Germany for the Rhein Fire of NFL Europe.

He has denied ever receiving any money, and he said he doesn't understand why Rowe would say he had given him any.

Payment to an active college athlete from someone deemed to be a representative of that university's athletics interests constitutes an NCAA violation and can result in sanctions against the program.

Sanford quit AARCO in September 1999 and is now being sued for civil embezzlement by the company, accused of diverting thousands of dollars in commissions.

Her ex-husband, Paul Sanford, died Monday, several days after police reports indicate he attempted suicide. She has been unavailable for comment while grieving, said her attorney, Tom Doyle.