Carl Shetler is a survivor and now he serves on the University of Louisiana Board of Supervisors after having helped place one of the universities he now helps govern on NCAA probation a quarter-century ago.
For three years, in 1971-1974, Shetler served as an assistant coach and main recruiter for the McNeese State University (MSU) basketball team during his tenure.
You’d think he would know better than to openly flaunt NCAA rules but it was learned that others took ACT tests for two prospective basketball players.
Edmond Lawrence, who first said he would sign with the University of Southwestern Louisiana (USL—now the University of Louisiana Lafayette), changed his mind after he was promised money if he would sign with McNeese.
Shetler and then head basketball coach Bill Reigel were fired in 1974 but in 1986 Shetler, who by then owned an automobile dealership, was among a group of Lake Charles businessmen who provided illegal jobs, money and cars to McNeese basketball players.
The other businessmen, as identified in a June 15, 1992 letter from McNeese Athletic Director Robert Hayes to SLC Commissioner Bill Belknap, included Henry Carter, owner of a local Popeye’s Chicken franchise; Johnny Abraham, owner of a Lakes Charles grocery story; local attorney William Baggett, former construction company owner Bobby Nicholson and Bob Keyes, whom Hayes said he did not know.
Joe Dumars, who would go on to star with the Detroit Pistons, was one of those who received money from the boosters.
Another player, Mike Marshall who transferred from the University of Kansas to McNeese, said he was paid “thousands of dollars” by Cowboy boosters when he played for McNeese.
The NCAA and Southland Conference (SLC) Commissioner Dick Oliver placed McNeese on two years’ probation in 1987 and the SLC forced McNeese to disassociate itself from Shetler and the other businessmen.
McNeese was also forced to forfeit rights to all revenue generated by SLC members during the 1986-87 and 1987-88 academic years in men’s basketball and its number of scholarships was reduced to 11 for both years.
The NCAA further instructed the university:
• For each of the “disassociated boosters,” please indicate what steps were taken by the institution to advise them of the conference penalty. Please include with your response the dates such action occurred and all relevant written material including, but not limited to copies of correspondence to the disassociated boosters, internal memorandum and news releases;
• For each of the “disassociated boosters,” please indicate what ongoing efforts were made by the institution to ensure that the university’s relationship with these individuals remained severed. Please include all copies of all relevant written materials;
• For each of the “disassociated boosters,” please indicate each and every contribution, whether monetary or otherwise, made by them to the McNeese athletics department, an athletics booster organization of McNeese, or any other non-profit association affiliated with McNeese. In connection with this request, please provide a list for the years 1986-97, 1987-88, 1988-89, 1989-90 and 1990-91 of all individuals making contributions, whether monetary or otherwise, the McNeese athletics departments, an athletics booster organization of McNeese, or any other non-profit association affiliated with McNeese;
• For each of the “disassociated boosters,” please indicate whether they have employed McNeese student-athletes. In connection with this response, please provide a list of all those employed and (the) dates of employment;
• For each of the “disassociated boosters,” please indicate whether they have been involved in the promotion of McNeese athletics in any way including, but not limited to, membership in booster organizations, associations with coaching staff members, attendance at booster functions, advertising in McNeese publications, signage at McNeese facilities or the sponsorship of radio/television programming involving McNeese or any staff member of McNeese.
But even that crackdown didn’t last. Shetler, through former athletic director Sonny Watkins and MSU President Robert Hebert, was soon calling the shots again.
His presence was so obvious that MSU soon began to mean Mr. Shetler’s University, one reporter wrote at the time. Coaches and athletic directors came and went—all while Shetler called the shots from his auto dealership on LA. 14. Another joke emerged as Northeast Louisiana University and USL were changing their names to the University of Louisiana Monroe (ULM) and University of Louisiana Lafayette (ULL), the same reporter wrote: McNeese, the line went, would become the University of Louisiana at Highway 14.
Shetler even prevailed upon Hebert to hire Kirby Bruchhaus as head football coach. Bruchhaus resigned after only one season when it was revealed that he regularly bet on professional and college football games, a major NCAA violation.
So how is it that Shetler, who has displayed little concern for rules, came to be appointed not once, but twice, to the University of Louisiana System Board?
He was first appointed by former Gov. Edwin Edwards in June of 1992, less than two weeks after Hayes’ letter to the SLC that identified the businessmen who paid McNeese players. His appointment took effect on Jan. 1, 1993. Shetler even served as board chairman and chairman of the athletic committee where he was in charge of overseeing the very rules he so openly violated.
Parenthetically, in case you think the names Edwards and Shetler ring a bell, they do. Shetler’s son, Ricky Shetler was a casino consultant and close friend of Edwards’ son, Stephen Edwards and when the cheese got binding in his 1998 federal grail, the younger Shetler turned on his friend, cutting a deal with prosecutors to testify against Stephen in exchange for a lighter sentence.
Carl Shetler was again appointed to the board in July of 2008, this time by Jindal.
That raises the obvious question: did anyone in Jindal’s camp make even a token effort to vet this appointment?
The same question could be asked of Edwards.
The difference, of course, is Edwards never hid behind a façade of wholesomeness and all things good. He was a rogue and didn’t care who knew it. It was that candor that endeared him to voters.
Jindal, on the other hand, tries to project an aura of respectability and goodness, a “gold standard” of ethics, if you will.
So where was the application of that “gold standard” in this case?
For that answer, as always, follow the money.
Shetler, besides lavishing money on athletes at McNeese, is not above tossing a little cabbage in the direction of Jindal.
Shetler, Rosier Shetler (same address), Shetler Rental Service, Shetler Rental Properties and McDrig’s, Inc. (same post office box as Shetler Rental Properties) all combined to pour some $48,000 into Jindal’s gubernatorial campaigns of 2003, 2007 and 2011.