The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Franzese lectures athletes

SMU athletes spent part of their Tuesday night listening to a former mob boss warn them about the pitfalls of gambling.

“The last thing I thought I would ever do is tour the country speaking to athletes,” Michael Franzese told the gathering in the Hughes Trigg Theater. “But the choices I made led me to do this.”

Franzese spent seven years in prison after pleading guilty to racketeering charges. Towards the end of his sentence two Federal Bureau of Investigation agents approached him about telling his story to athletes nationwide. He agreed to participate and he was part of a video entitled “Ain’t no Gangsters in Paradise” that was produced by the National Basketball Association. The film warned athletes of what trouble they could get involved in if they gambled. The video was so effective that Franzese began to receive offers to speak to professional and collegiate athletes.

Over the past decade he has become a fixture at rookie camps in the NBA, Major League Baseball, the National Football League. He mentioned advice that he gave to Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James. “I told him he has to be careful now, because now that he’s King James, no one is going to tell him no. He needs to have the self control.”

Franzese spends a majority of his time on college campuses, giving talks to student athletes.

“As a person who ran large gaming operations, I can tell you that I had bulls-eyes on all you. College kids are the easiest to take advantage of. You were my targets.”

Franzese often mentioned studies conducted by universities that told of the growing number of student athletes gambling.

“Twenty five percent of the people in this room are gambling. I don’t want to know who you are, but that’s a proven fact. I hope that you realize what you are doing could take away everything you have worked for.”

He also cited an NCAA study conducted in 2003, where 59 percent of male athletes and 58 percent of female athletes in Division I did not know the NCAA rules regarding gambling. “That’s a problem. Know the rules – if you play with fire you are going to get burned.”

Franzese spent a large part of his program relating stories and background from his own life, “so all of you know who you are dealing with when you choose to gamble.”

His father was the under boss of the Colombo crime family in New York. One of seven kids, Franzese said his father encouraged him to become a doctor rather than become involved in the Colombo’s. Eventually his father was convicted for masterminding a series of nationwide bank robberies and sentenced to 50 years in federal prison.

Despite his father’s pleas, Franzese joined the Colombo’s and quickly moved up the hierarchy.

“What excited me about (the Colombo’s) was the camaraderie, the brotherhood.”

During his time in the Colombo’s, Franzese was arrested 17 times and indicted five, including a 1985 indictment by Rudy Giuliani.

He wrote a book about his life in a crime family entitled ‘Blood Covenant.’ Franzese has also been a guest on Jim Rome’s FOX Sports radio show, and will make another appearance this Thursday.

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