Swan, 55, helped program through tumultuous time

Updated: August 21, 2003, 5:12 PM ET
Associated Press

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- William Swan, a banking chief executive who helped St. Bonaventure weather an eligibility scandal as the school's board chairman, died of an apparent suicide. He was 55.

Swan, who was found by his wife at their home Wednesday night, had been "despondent over issues that had occurred as a result of his positions" at the university, state police said. The coroner was conducting an autopsy.

Police wouldn't say how he died. But emergency workers responded to a report of a hanging at Swan's suburban Clarence home, according to fire control reports.

"He wore St. Bonaventure on his sleeve," Atlantic 10 Conference commissioner Linda Bruno said about Swan. "He was completely attached to St. Bonaventure. You could tell how genuine it was."

The Atlantic 10 Conference stripped St. Bonaventure of six victories and barred it from postseason play in March after forward Jamil Terrell was ruled ineligible for violating NCAA junior college transfer guidelines. The scandal further cut the basketball season short because players boycotted the Bonnies' final two games.

During an emergency session of the school's board, Swan and the trustees sought and received the resignation of university president Robert Wickenheiser.

Wickenheiser had taken full responsibility for approving Terrell's transfer.

The board also placed on administrative leave athletic director Gothard Lane and coach Jan van Breda Kolff. Lane resigned a month later, and van Breda Kolff was dismissed.

A day later, addressing about 800 students, Swan said there would be no cover-up in the school's investigation. "We will not sacrifice our values for anything, not even athletic glory," he said.

Swan was a 1969 graduate of St. Bonaventure and had been a board member since 1990, serving as vice chairman for two years before he was appointed chairman in August 2000.

In the July/August issue of Trusteeship magazine, Swan wrote about the basketball scandal.

"I have asked myself countless times: Did I make the right decisions? Considering the information I had, and balancing it with my general sense of the responsibilities of trustees, I can report that I am at peace with my decisions," he wrote.


Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press