Sources Say Suspension Of Schott Is Imminent The Reds' Owner Apparently Will Be Barred For A Year And Fined $250,000. The Official Word Could Come Tomorrow.

Posted: February 02, 1993

Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott, accused of making racial and ethnic slurs, is expected to draw a hefty fine and one-year suspension from baseball, according to several baseball officials.

Schott's punishment could come as early as tomorrow, when the ruling executive council is scheduled to meet in Chicago. Milwaukee Brewers owner Bud Selig, who serves as head of that council, said last week that he expected Schott's fate to be decided at the meeting.

Selig said no decision had been made on Schott's punishment. But several baseball executives, who asked not to be named, said the council, in a meeting last weekend in Grapevine, Texas, had agreed to suspend Schott for one year and fine her the maximum of $250,000.

"It's a done deal," said a high-ranking club executive. "All the owners have been told. It's time we took care of this embarrassment and put it behind us."

The Dayton Daily News and the Los Angeles Times have reported that all 28

clubs have been notified that Schott will be suspended at the meeting.

Phillies general partner Bill Giles, however, said yesterday that he had received no news on Schott's case and had no knowledge of an impending suspension.

"If there's an agreement among the owners," Giles said, "I think I would have heard about it."

Atlanta Braves president Stan Kasten said he had just read the executive committee's report on Schott "and, obviously, we're waiting to see what the final resolution of this matter will be. We're glad it's finally being brought to a head so we can go back to batting averages and ERAs."

Schott, the Reds' majority owner since 1984, has been accused on several fronts of making slurs against blacks, Jews and Asians. She has denied most of the allegations but admitted that others were correct and apologized for them.

Yesterday, she told reporters that she had not heard of an agreement to suspend her. Further, she disputed the council's legal ability to penalize her.

"These people have no right," she said. "They know nothing. It's nothing. It was started by one cheap employee. After 25 years in the business and helping lots of people . . ."

Schott's behavior came to light when former Reds controller Tim Sabo filed a lawsuit claiming that she had fired him because he opposed her allegedly discriminatory hiring practices. In her deposition in the case, Schott admitted to having made inflammatory statements about blacks and Jews; confirmed that she kept a swastika armband in her home, and said she could not recall whether she had praised Adolf Hitler and referred to Martin Luther King Day as "Nigger Day."

Since the allegations came to light in November, Schott has tried to make amends. She has increased the number of minorities in the Reds' front office

from one of 44 to five of 46 - including new manager Tony Perez. She has donated $250,000 to the Cincinnati Academy of Physical Education for scholarships for needy female students. And she has warmly embraced civil rights leader Jesse Jackson, even as he was calling for her suspension.

At a meeting with the council two weeks ago, Schott said she wanted to ''acknowledge my mistakes and to apologize for my insensitivity."

Meanwhile, her attorney, Robert Bennett, has warned that any suspension of Schott would be fought with a lawsuit. The Major League Agreement - the owners' constitution - forbids such suits, but that ban never has been tested in court.

Bennett has implied that one of his legal strategies might be to show that other owners have been equally guilty of prejudice over the years, both in their hiring practices and private statements.

Also, Bennett would be likely to argue on Schott's behalf that no standards of conduct in this area ever have been drawn up by the commissioner's office or the National or American Leagues. Simply put, Schott never was told that she could be punished for offensive speech.

During a suspension, Schott would not be allowed to make baseball or business decisions affecting the Reds.

Schott stands to be the first owner to be hit with disciplinary action since July 1990, when George Steinbrenner of the New York Yankees agreed to resign rather than be suspended by commissioner Fay Vincent. Steinbrenner was accused of consorting with a known gambler.

Vincent later agreed to let Steinbrenner return. Steinbrenner will resume running the team next month.

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