Alumni Magazine

FAL-WIN 2016

The alumni magazine for Franklin Pierce University.

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20 PIERCE / FALL 2016 That's because the criminal justice alumnus plays be- hind the scenes, as director of security for the National Basketball Association's Oklahoma City Thunder. That's a long way for a kid from Pittsburgh who arrived to play hoops for the Franklin Pierce Ravens men's basketball team. "I had made a list of all the things I wanted to do when I got older, and they were, in this order: 1. Play in the NBA, 2. Become an FBI agent, 3. Join the Marines, 4. Become a chef," says the 59-year-old Chatman. "So I got to do one of them at least." Which one did he achieve? More on that in a bit. But first, what's it like interacting with professional basket- ball players? "Everyone on the team, from the stars to the bench players, are very caring people. They don't come off like big shots even with all the money they're making," he says. "Like Kevin Durant [who recently left to sign with the Golden State Warriors], what you see with him is what you get. He's just a good guy. They all are." It's no small task for Chatman and his team of five to coordinate all the security details an NBA team needs. Upon arriving for an away game, they work with city and state police, local FBI agents, and the home team's security personnel. Then there's keeping an eye on the players during the noon shoot-around, during any after- noon meet-and-greets at local malls (and coordinating with the mall's security team), when they arrive at the arena, and when they return to the bus after the game has ended. It's a similar story for home games, although it's a bit easier because he knows the layout far better. "I've found that 99 percent of fans just want an auto- graph or take a picture with them, although I'm always looking for that one guy who has a backpack or has something that doesn't look exactly right," he says. "But it's not as stressful as working for the FBI." MURDERER FOR HIRE It was goal Number 2, working as an FBI agent, that Chatman achieved. He spent 22 years with the agency, working deep undercover infiltrating drug dealers, breaking up gambling rings, and identifying public cor- ruption plots. He saw the worst in a lot of people, but a few incidents really stand out. Like the guy who wanted to hire Chatman to kill his girlfriend. Chatman was working out of the New Orleans bureau in 1988, pos- ing as a hit man. The businessman said he wanted the woman killed because she had fleeced him of $10,000 and then split up. On a recording of the meeting, the man tells Chatman to make it look like an accident. And then came something that made Chatman's blood run cold. "He said she had a daughter, and he didn't want her hurt. But if she got in the way, it was okay to kill her too. That was the worst part." While not one for being in the public eye, the case prompted Chatman to be interviewed on WDSU-TV in New Orleans after it concluded. The interview included excerpts from the meeting. "I wanted to make sure that people understand how people in law enforcement put their lives on the line every day, and they'll never even know what they've done to make things safe," he says. Another time, while gathering evidence about a Co- lombian drug cartel smuggling ring, one of the group's leaders decided he wanted to test Chatman's loyalty. "He walked up to me and put a gun to my head," Chat- man recalls. "I managed to talk myself out of it, and there were FBI agents in the next room so it probably wouldn't have gotten out of hand. Still, I think about that often, how I could have easily been killed." In the late 1980s while working in the agency's Boston bureau, Chatman ran into fellow agent John Connolly, who handled the notorious James "Whitey" Bulger Below: The 1978 Franklin Pierce basketball roster, and the team photo (Michael Chatman is in the back row, center.)

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