On Monday, ESPN Films revealed the films that will make up its fall 2014 lineup for the popular '30 for 30' series. The series returns for a six-week run beginning on Tuesday, October 7 at 9 p.m. Eastern with "Playing for the Mob," which delves into how mobster Henry Hill once helped orchestrate the fixing of Boston College basketball games.
The film is narrated by actor Ray Liotta, who played Hill in the movie "Goodfellas," and directed by Joe Lavine and Cayman Grant.
Many long-time fans are now familiar with the Boston College basketball point shaving scandal, where the Mafia, led by wiseguy Henry Hill, recruited and bribed several members of the 1978-79 basketball team to fix games. The point-shaving scheme, conceived by Rocco and Anthony Perla, recruited BC's Rick Kuhn, a high school friend of Rocco, to fix games where BC was heavily favored. Kuhn agreed to participate and brought in his teammates Jim Sweeney and Ernie Cobb into the scheme.
After a game against Providence broke badly for the gamblers, the Perla brothers recruited additional members of the Eagles basketball team to throw games, threatening physical violence to players that didn't hold up their end of the bargain.
This went on for several games, finishing up with a game against Holy Cross where the Crusaders were favored to win by 7 points. Holy Cross would only win by 2 points, 98-96, after Ernie Cobb scored eight points in the final minute to bring the Eagles close. The scheme's creators lost tens of thousands of dollars on the Holy Cross game, but still came out ahead to the tune of more than $100,000.
The whole point shaving conspiracy was uncovered in 1980, when Hill was indicted by New York state authorities on drug trafficking charges. Hill turned informant in exchange for avoiding prison time. A grand jury indicted several Mafia members, the scheme's co-creators Rocco and Tony Perla and Kuhn based on Hill's testimony.
You can check out the preview of ESPN '30 for 30's' "Playing For The Mob" here.
I know opposing fans love, love, love to bring up this dark period of Boston College basketball history, but my advice is to embrace it and enjoy the documentary for what it is -- a historical account of what can go wrong when organized crime meets college athletics.
I mean, get your school into a movie like Goodfellas, then come talk to us.