The International Tennis Hall of Fame took a stand on Bob Hewitt last week and gained a healthy dose of integrity in the process. One can only hope that in suspending Hewitt and stating that "his legacy ceases to exist," the Hall hit the ignition switch for further sanctions -- for they are long overdue.
Hewitt's sordid behavior came to light in August 2011 when The Boston Globe, in the wake of a six-month investigation, reported that Hewitt sexually abused underage girls he coached in the Boston area and his native South Africa from the 1970s to the early '90s. Six women publicly identified themselves as Hewitt's alleged victims, and the explosive report triggered an HBO Real Sports segment that sent Mary Carillo on a fact-finding mission to South Africa.
As the evidence piled up against Hewitt, it became abundantly clear that the South African Tennis Federation planned no punitive action unless criminal charges were filed. The Hall of Fame hired Michael J. Connolly, a former federal prosecutor and a partner in the Boston-based law firm of Hinckley, Allen & Snyder, to conduct a separate investigation, one that spanned dozens of interviews over several months and concluded in September. The Hall's response was a unanimous decision to suspend Hewitt, removing his plaque and all other references to him at the Providence, R.I., headquarters and on its website.