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Posts Tagged ‘Mary Carillo’

PostHeaderIcon Bob Hewitt’s Long Overdue Removal from the Hall of Fame

As tennis’ International Hall of Fame was preparing to announce its’ induction class for 2012, information was coming to light about a previously-inducted Hall of Famer and abuse allegations that seemed too hard to ignore. But that’s exactly what officials at the Hall of Fame appeared to do, infuriating many in the tennis community.

The subject of this firestorm was Bob Hewitt; a standout doubles player in his day who won all of the Grand Slam doubles titles for both Men’s and Mixed doubles. In later years, he went on to become a junior coach. This is where the story goes horribly wrong. Instead of coaching his young charges, he preyed on them sexually. Some of the victims, all young girls, were as young as 12. By all accounts the abuse was widespread and systemic.

A criminal probe was launched in early 2011. By the fall of 2011, word had spread of the allegations, and several witnesses had come forward against Hewitt. Mary Carillo even did a “Real Sports” story on the Hewitt allegations. But that’s as far as it got in terms of the tennis world.

Hall of Fame officials initially declined action because there was no criminal complaint on the matter. Finally, Tony Trabert, then president of the ITHOF, promised to conduct an investigation on the matter. But he never followed through. By the time the 2012 crop of inductees was being named, the matter had reached the boiling point because of the ITHOF’s inaction.

Mark Stenning, Hall CEO, publicly admitted in May that no investigation had been conducted. When an investigation was finally complete, it resulted in Hewitt’s suspension from the Hall of Fame on November 15, 2012. His plaque has been removed, as well as all other to him on Hall of Fame materials. Hewitt is “suspended” because they felt that expulsion was only appropriate if he were found guilty in a criminal proceeding. But for all practical purposes, Hewitt has ceased to be a Hall of Famer.

Stenning said afterward, “In hindsight, we certainly could have handled this more swiftly.

You think?

Better late than never, I guess. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for “due process”, but it took the Hall of Fame well over a year to take action on this matter, in spite of the pleas of many respected members. To their credit (because I do believe they should be given some credit) they spared no expense to investigate the matter once it became clear that Trabert had dropped the ball.

I’m not sure their late-game heroics can make up for their earlier inactivity, at least not for the victims. It’s easy to say you’re sorry after the fact when there are consequences. But it would have been much better if someone at the Hall of Fame had done the right thing from the outset, especially since the Hall of Fame is supposed to embody the best of tennis. And there was nothing “best” about this.


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