For me and my brother, City College was one of God's greatest gifts. I enrolled in the college in February, 1948 and was graduated in June, 1951. It was a time of campus tumult, enormous intellectual growth, and a basketball scandal like no other in college history—all against the backdrop of a Cold War with the Soviet Union and a hot war in Korea.
One day, I knew, journalism as a career would call, and I'd happily respond. My brother, as always, had paved the way. He was by now a reporter for the New York Times, and he and a number of his friends had become my role models. When I knocked at the door of The Campus, the more traditional of the two newspapers at City College, I didn't know that I would be given the opportunity of a student's lifetime. I would soon be covering a story that made college basketball history in the spring of 1950: The City College team won both national tournaments, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the National Invitational Tournament (NIT), a feat so exceptional no team had ever done it before, or since.
The glory, unfortunately, was short-lived. Less than a year later, seven of its players were arrested for shaving points as part of an illegal Mafia-run betting scheme. From their pinnacle of fame, they had fallen into a pit of shame, disgracing themselves and the college. It would take decades for City College to recover a modest measure of its former glory. City College was not alone. Other colleges with more luster shared its shame, discouraging many students from applying for admission and many donors from contributing to their future. For the rest of my life, this basketball scandal would taint my memory of what was otherwise a rich and rewarding college experience, and it also taught me important lessons in journalism helpful many decades later in my coverage of wars and political upheavals around the world.