The collegiate bowling world learned Thursday night that Webber International, one of the most accomplished programs in the country, will vacate the 2017 men’s Intercollegiate Team Championship title because one of its players was found to have been ineligible to participate in collegiate competition per USBC rule 207. That rule stipulates that no bowler who ever has been a member of any professional bowling organization can participate in USBC collegiate competition unless the bowler has applied for and been granted a waiver by USBC. But in order to be eligible even to apply for the waiver the bowler has to have competed in no more than five pro events.
That’s where things got a little hairy for Webber International’s Giorgio Clinaz, who had bowled three World Series of Bowling events as well as one Summer Swing and a handful of PBA regional tournaments prior to joining the Webber International men’s squad starting with the 2015-16 season. Both he and coach Del Warren, whom the USBC has suspended indefinitely, are entirely contrite about this and not in any way taking issue with the decision. Warren made a statement about this the following night on Facebook and that statement can be found on BJI’s Facebook page and on our website.
As you will hear in this conversation with Giorgio Clinaz, he blames no one but himself for this development and makes clear that his ignorance of USBC rules is not at all an excuse for violating them. But Clinaz went beyond the low-hanging fruit of this story with me and was very forthright in his responses to my questions regarding who sounded the alarm about this rule violation and the timing with which the complaint was made at this rather late juncture in the present college bowling season. I asked him also about Jeff Richgels’s argument that this story highlights what he perceives to be hypocrisy in the way the term “amateur” is defined in college bowling, and you might be surprised to learn why Clinaz himself does not see it that way.
But there also is a human element to this story that no one is talking about — Clinaz is from Venezuela, and without his bowling scholarship he says his visa may be terminated and he may have to return to Venezuela, which he describes as a place where streets are violent, people are hungry and inflation to the tune of 2,000% is making it nearly impossible to survive. That alone suggests that exposing himself to suspension is something he never would have done deliberately, but listen for yourself and come to your own conclusion. Here is my full conversation with Giorgio Clinaz, the player at the heart of the Webber International story that broke Thursday night: