A box score from Dec. 17, 1978, shows that Boston College beat the Harvard men’s basketball team, 86-83, at the Boston Garden. But the game meant much more than the score for one player.
Glenn Fine ’79 started the day in Baltimore, where he met with the Rhodes Scholarship committee. In the afternoon, he boarded a private plane donated by a Harvard alumnus to fly back to Boston. Upon landing, he received a police escort to the Boston Garden and then played the full 40 minutes as the Crimson took on undefeated Boston College.
Nine of Harvard’s 12 players did not have any varsity experience before the season, but they still managed to take the Eagles down to the wire, thanks in large part to Fine’s play. The co-captain tallied 10 points, seven assists, and four steals in the opening half, and the Crimson went into intermission trailing just 48-45.
Harvard hung with Boston College throughout the second frame, cutting the lead to one with five seconds to play, but a pair of free throws sealed an 86-83 win for the Eagles (the game was later found to be a part of the Boston College point-shaving scandal implemented by Henry Hill of Goodfellas fame).
At the end of a long day, Fine finished with 19 points, 14 assists, eight steals, and, most importantly, one Rhodes Scholarship. In the locker room after the game, the Pennsylvania native received a call on a pay phone from the committee telling him that he had been awarded the prize—much like senior wideout Zar Zavala learned via text after The Game two weeks ago.
“I’m kind of shell-shocked,” he told the Boston Globe at the time. “It’s the opportunity of a lifetime. I’m kind of numb.”
After studying at Oxford, Fine went on to pursue a career in law, eventually rising to the position of Inspector General at the Department of Justice. Serving three presidents over the last 10 years, Fine announced Monday that he will step down from the position on Jan. 28, 2011 to pursue other professional opportunities.
One of the longest-serving inspector generals in history, Fine’s influence on American politics in many ways began on that December night in 1978. The box score says Boston College 86, Harvard 83, but it does not reflect that Fine was the true winner.