Champions Tour clears Thorpe to play

Jim Thorpe was sentenced to a year in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of failure to pay income tax.

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When Jim Thorpe gets out of prison – perhaps as soon as this month – he’ll have his old job waiting for him.

Thorpe, imprisoned since April 1 for failing to pay income taxes, can return immediately to the Champions Tour, president Mike Stevens told Golfweek.

“He can start playing the minute he’s able,” Stevens said. “Thorpie has always been a great personality – great with fans and pro-am partners and sponsors. I’m sure he’ll be equally as good when he comes back. We’ll welcome him back with open arms.”

That could be soon, according to the pastor of the church that Thorpe attends in Lake Mary, Fla.

“He’ll get out a little early; that’s the plan, anyway,” Keith Wilkins, senior pastor at Crossings Community Church, said Jan. 5. “It could be this month.”

Wilkins said he learned the news from Thorpe’s wife, Carol, and agent, Mike Lewis. Phone and e-mail messages left with Lewis were not returned.

Thorpe, 61, a 13-time winner on the Champions Tour, was sentenced to one year in federal prison after pleading guilty to two misdemeanor counts of failing to pay more than $2 million in back taxes, interest and penalties. He also was sentenced to two years of supervised release and 200 hours of community service. As part of his plea, Thorpe agreed to repay the money.

Thorpe has served time at the minimum-security Federal Prison Camp located on Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala.

He had been under suspension by the Tour since February, after he was sentenced. Thorpe plans to resume his career on the over-50 Tour upon being released, Wilkins said.

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