UP AGAINST THE LAW
The NCAA, a stickler about having the letter of the law obeyed, especially its own, has been running up against the law itself lately. A boosters group at the University of California filed suit against the national collegiate organization for putting California on probation. It argued that the ruling was invalid, arbitrary, capricious, contrary and discriminatory, and that it has seriously hurt the group's efforts to raise funds for the university. The probation came after sprinter Isaac Curtis helped California win the 1970 NCAA track championship. Curtis had failed to take tests required under the NCAA's 1.6 rule, which has to do with the evaluation of a scholarship athlete's scholastic potential. The NCAA therefore deemed him ineligible and subtracted his points from California's total, which cost Cal the championship it had won on the track. The school refused to go along with the ineligibility ruling (Curtis' grades have been acceptable, and he is playing football this fall), even though this means it is barred from championship competition and postseason games, and its wins and losses are expunged from Pacific Eight Conference standings.
Meanwhile, in Tulsa a few weeks ago a court ordered the NCAA not to punish either Texas or Oklahoma if their football game was telecast over regular channels in that city. But NCAA officials warned both schools that they could be held accountable if they allowed such a telecast. Oklahoma President Paul Sharp decided the university would not sanction a telecast of the game. A contempt charge was then filed against NCAA officials for threatening to interfere with the court order. A few days later NCAA attorneys apologized to the court, saying the organization had intended to comply with the order and that the apparent failure to do so was the result of a mix-up in communications. The contempt citation was held over for a year to give the NCAA time to review its rules in order to make them flexible enough to handle exceptional situations, like TV in Tulsa when Oklahoma plays Texas.
NO STILL LIFE
Ken Harrelson, the baseball player who is trying to become a pro golfer, failed in his first attempt to earn a PGA tournament player's card. Part of his trouble, he says, is controlling his temper: "On one hole I had a 110-yard pitch shot, and I hit it 60 yards. I got so mad I almost blacked out. I keep thinking I've got a baseball bat in my hands. I'm trying to kill the ball, hit it over the fence. I've got to fight it every round." Yet Harrelson admits that he likes the idea of a golf ball sitting there politely and not moving until you tell it to. Remembering his baseball days, he says, "It's hell when you stand there 60 feet away from a guy who's trying to decide whether or not to drill one 100 mph right between your teeth."
Football players are by tradition conservative and apolitical, but about 50 members of Michigan's undefeated team have signed a petition asking that the halftime show at Michigan's game this Saturday with Indiana be devoted to antiwar themes. Campus antiwar groups circulated the petition, and star Running Back Billy Taylor said, "I don't know anybody who saw it who didn't sign it." Quarterback Tom Slade commented, "I'm more conservative than 90% of the students. I'm pro-Nixon. But I signed with the intention that I'm against the war."
Several of the players announced that they would flash peace signs or clenched fists as they left the field for the half-time intermission. Coach Bo Schembechler said, "Let's consider it an individual matter. All I can say is the players don't decide what goes on at halftime."
When the petition came to the attention of University President Robben Fleming, he referred it to Athletic Director Don Canham. Canham declared, "I'm not surprised. Who the hell is in favor of the war anymore?" But he added that the athletic department did not determine the content of the half-time show. That was up to the band, which voted to stay with the nonwar theme it had been rehearsing. This prompted an antiwar student to say, "Unless the band turns over three or four minutes of its 12 minutes of music time, there'll be two halftime shows going on at the same time."
And so it goes. One thing is certain. There won't be too much trouble getting the crowd to pay attention to this halftime entertainment.
Ace Auto Parks of San Diego has developed a system of speeding cars out of stadium complexes. Using a platoon of traffic directors coordinated from a control tower by walkie-talkie radio, they have managed to hustle 16,000 cars away from the 52,000-seat San Diego Stadium in 45 minutes, or about half the time it normally takes to empty a parking lot of that size.
Since their success in San Diego, the Ace people have been retained by Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto and by the new Texas Stadium in Dallas. One of the fascinating discoveries the organization has made since it began emptying people out of tight places is the variegated plumage of the American stadium bird. The most difficult patrons to deal with, says Ace, are professional football fans, who are described as mean and aggressive, always looking for an opening, always trying to beat the system. The professional baseball fan, on the other hand, is courteous and patient, but tends to be slow in reacting and moving out of the way.
College football devotees, for some reason, pay their parking fees in small change—often in pennies. And drivers at the Billy Graham Crusade that opened the Texas Stadium in September...well, they were very straight arrow. So much so, in fact, that they invariably maintained a single lane of traffic while leaving the parking lot. Even when there were five lanes available.
In case you are looking around for an educational toy for the kids, you might try something called Kenner S.S.P. Smash-Up Derby. The ads say it has all the thrills of a real demolition derby, with snap-on, fly-off parts. The cover of the box has a peachy drawing of a head-on collision, too. Be the first on your block
Tennis achieved the millennium four years ago when the artificial barriers separating professionals and "amateurs" (the word is in quotes because amateurs regularly made a bundle) were torn down and open tennis was launched. But now the International Lawn Tennis Federation, the force behind the classic tournaments at Wimbledon and Forest Hills and the governing body for all players but those known as contract pros, is feuding again with World Championship Tennis, Lamar Hunt's select troupe of top professionals.
Because of jurisdictional disputes, the ILTF and WCT have split. True open tennis embracing all the leading players is due to die an untimely death on Jan. I, when contracts expire. Attempts to negotiate a settlement seem doomed. Last week each side rejected an appeal for a compromise from Rothmans, the British cigarette firm that has been a major sponsor of tournament tennis. "With a modicum of give and take on both sides," says a perturbed Rothmans man, "the differences would have been resolved."
Allan Heyman of London, the ILTF president, was "too busy" in September to go to the U.S. Open Championship at Forest Hills, where Hunt hoped to meet him for a summit conference. Instead Heyman suggested lunch in London, adding, "Any move now must come from WCT and not from us." Hunt was not inclined to move. And neither reacted to Rothmans' appeal.
Foolish. Without the 32 contract pros whom Hunt controls, Wimbledon, Forest Hills and the other ILTF events will become bland affairs, a mockery of the classic tennis tradition they are supposed to epitomize. Without Wimbledon and Forest Hills, pro tennis will never attain the stature it deserves.
SEEDS OF DEFEAT
As Purdue whacked Minnesota 27-13 a couple of weeks ago on lush, green grass that must be the pride of Purdue's agronomists, a disgruntled visitor from Minnesota was heard to complain, "Our boys just can't play on this unartificial turf."
There is a move afoot to get the National Hockey League to apply the practice of sudden-death overtime to regular-season games. Sudden-death endings are stimulating and good drama, whereas tic games are often pallid affairs, particularly during the closing minutes when the opposing teams will settle for the tie rather than risk all-out offensive moves that might backfire. Objections to overtime play usually boil down to worry about travel schedules, a problem baseball manages to solve all year, and the players' distaste for longer games. But, the argument goes, if a tie means you have to go into overtime, there will be fewer ties after three periods because the players will be going all out to score and win in regulation time. Which means more exciting hockey for the onlookers all evening long.
THEY SAID IT
•Jake La Motta, controversial ex-prizefighter, after being named "Noblest Roman of them all": "I guess it's because I haven't been arrested in a long time."
•John Kerr of the Virginia Squires, ex-coach of the Phoenix Suns: "One thing I've never been able to figure out is: Connie Hawkins was barred from the NBA for associating with gamblers, but when I was at Phoenix we won him in a coin toss."