Bonnies chairman Swan dead, suicide possible

Updated: August 21, 2003, 7:44 PM ET

BUFFALO - William Swan, a local banker who was chairman of the board of trustees during St. Bonaventure's recent basketball scandal, died Wednesday. He was 55.

While the school confirmed his death, WGRZ-TV in Buffalo reported Thursday that police are investigating it as an apparent suicide.

Citing police information, WGRZ said that Swan's wife discovered him in the basement of their Clarence, New York home on Wednesday shortly before 7 p.m. EDT. The station also reported Swan had been "despondent" over issues at First Niagara Bank and the school.

St. Bonaventure was forced to forfeit six games and banned from the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament after it was revealed that junior forward-center Jamil Terrell did not meet NCAA eligibility requirements.

The school declared Terrell ineligible on February 26 after determining he did not meet guidelines relating to junior college transfers.

In response to the conference ruling, players decided not to play the final two regular-season contests against Massachusetts and Dayton.

The sequence of events led to the firing of coach Jan van Breda Kolff and the resignations of school president Robert Wickenheiser, athletic director Gothard Lane and assistant coach Kort Wickenheiser.

It also may have led to the suicide of Swan, a 1969 graduate of St. Bonaventure and a member of the board of trustees since 1990 who was called a "respected leader, beloved friend and true Bonaventure man" on the school's Web site Thursday.

"No one loved this school more than he," the dedication continued. "We offer our deepest sympathy to his wife, Ann, and their families."

In the July-August issue of Trusteeship magazine, Swan wrote about the basketball scandal in an article entitled "The Real March Madness."

"I have asked myself countless times: Did I make the right decisions?" he wrote. "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."

Swan was chairman, president and CEO of First Niagara Bank, located north of Buffalo in Lockport. In memory of Swan, the bank referred to him as "Our leader. Our colleague. Our friend."

This story is from's automated news wire. Wire index