THE RIGHT TIME FOR COURAGE
There is little doubt, from the evidence cited on pages 22 to 25, that Indiana University is guilty as charged of something or other in connection with the recruiting of athletes, but the question remains: Just what is it guilty of? The simplest answer seems to be—of getting caught.
Virtually every sports-minded college these days seeks by hook or by crook to attract the most promising talent in the schoolboy athletic world to its campus. The main differences lie in whether the accent is more firmly on the hook or on the crook. Indiana's offense against the accepted standard was that its approach was blatant where that of the others is subtle, that it was bold and brassy where others are furtive and feline, that it was—in a manner of speaking—straightforward and outspoken where the fashion is to be devious and doubletalking.
We are not suggesting that Indiana, apparently operating in flagrant violation of the NCAA rules, should be forgiven its sins. We are suggesting that it should not be punished merely because of the flagrancy with which they were committed. There is, we believe, something basically wrong with an attitude that puts a premium on hypocrisy; that says high-pressure recruiting is all right so long as it is not made obvious.
"Even without any illegal offers," writes George Young, chairman of the NCAA infractions committee, in a recent magazine article, "high-pressure recruiting can distort a boy's sense of values. At worst, you have institutions of higher learning encouraging a boy to become a party to fraud and deception." The spider web of rules by which the NCAA seeks to control this tendency, and their inconsistent enforcement from one conference to another, abets rather than allays this evil.
Four years ago the late Herman Hickman, in collaboration with the editors of this magazine, formulated a set of nine basic rules for aiding athletes (SI, Aug. 13, 1956). The idea was not to provide some magically foolproof formula but simply to standardize and clarify what was desirable—and feasible—for all parties concerned.
These Nine Points for Survival, as we called them, are reflected in many provisions of the present Big Ten code, and they still provide a perfectly good point of departure for an equitable grant-in-aid program that would be uniform in all colleges from coast to coast and from conference to conference.
We are not saying that they are the only rules that would work, but we are saying that if the NCAA wants to prove its sincere desire to stem the abuses of overzealous recruiting, it should have the courage to adopt some such simplified form and devote its greater energy to real enforcement. To make an example of one university because it does in the open what everyone else is permitted to do in the shadows is to make a Prohibition-era farce of the whole aid-to-athletes question.
NO TIME FOR HORSES?
Not every horse race can boast such drawing cards as Venetian Way, Bally Ache or even the poor unfrocked favorite Tompion, but they all can and do offer the attraction—and a fine attraction it is—of spirited Thoroughbreds competing against one another. This—pari-mutuels not withstanding—we had always thought was the main idea of horse racing.
More and more, however, like the elephants that turned up on the program at Gulfstream recently, extracurricular diversions at the tracks have tended to put the ponies in second place. To stem this tide before it drowns horseplayers in a flood of promotional nonsense, we cite the case of the managers of New Jersey's Garden State Park. They planned a Memorial Day program to accompany the running of the Jersey Derby that included, among other things, a historical pageant on racing, a concert by a fife and drum corps descended from Civil War bandsmen, and the re-enactment of a full-scale Civil War battle by the Living History Group of Big Pool, Md.
At the last moment Garden State discovered that with all of these high jinks there would be no time for the horse race and hastily revised its plans to read: extra added attractions one day, horse race the next.