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Officials at the Niagara Falls Convention Center had a ringer of sorts on their hands last Friday night when they held their free-throw shooting competition at halftime of the Niagara-St. John's basketball game.

Two fans who had a lucky number in their program were picked to take part in the promotion, sponsored by the Niagara Gazette. Contestants get $100 if they make their first free throw, $300 for the second and $900 if they make three straight.

One of the two calmly sank three free throws to win the $900. He was Bill Gorman, a 6-foot-6 senior center on the Buffalo State basketball team.

Of course, there was nothing wrong with Gorman participating. He bought a program that had the lucky number. However, it was originally feared he would lose his eligibility if he accepted the $900.

"As long as it was a random drawing it's OK," coach Dick Bihr said. "At Division III, it's legal for a player to use his athletic ability to win a prize. If he was at Division I or Division II he would have had to make the decision to either keep the money or not play."

Tuition at Buffalo State is $725 a semester.

Gorman, who is seeing significant time at center for the Bengals this year, was held out of last Saturday's Buffalo State game at Oswego as a precaution until Bihr checked with the NCAA on Monday.

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