NCAA CONVENTION II
The ineffectiveness of the National Collegiate Athletic Association in dealing with inflation and women's sports (SCORECARD, Jan. 20) overshadowed several positive accomplishments of the recent convention. The most noteworthy concerned the fate of coaches who sin and run and of schools and bowl committees that commit themselves prematurely.
Dr. Stephen Horn, president of Long Beach State and leader of a vocal group of college officials who seem determined to play a more active role in athletics, spearheaded a campaign that resulted in a rule aimed at straying coaches. From now on, with the concurrence of the NCAA, an institution can bar a former coach from employment at another school for up to two years if he was responsible for placing his old school on probation.
Bowl commitments of any sort will be prohibited until the third Saturday in November. A college violating that date can be barred for two years from bowl games, and a transgressing bowl must surrender 50% of its share of the game's gross receipts.
Walter Byers, executive director of the NCAA, thought the convention's chief accomplishments came in the areas of recruiting and enforcement. The organization's investigative staff was increased from five to 13, including eight full-time field agents. Regulations were adopted requiring athletes and coaches to make annual declarations of rules compliance—false declarations will lead to stiffer penalties—and forbidding contacts with high school athletes before the end of their junior years. But legislation to restrict a high school athlete to four paid campus visits and to limit to three the number of visits a recruiter may make to see a prospect was turned down. So was a move insisting on satisfactory scholastic progress by athletes, NCAA members holding that this would be an invasion of the academic province, as though the 1.6 rule for admittance to college was not.
The effectiveness of all this will depend upon the will of the NCAA to administer the new rules firmly. "Concurrence" on the banning of coaches can become a convenient out rather than a means to help bring them to account for their actions. And the refusal of the convention to go further in relieving recruiting pressure on high school students does little to help even an enlarged staff of investigators, who must police 691 colleges and some 121,259 athletes in seven major sports. The most promising news out of the convention was the increased participation of college administrators. It is time they took a more responsible interest in athletic policy.
STILL A GOOD STORY
Blame the computer again. A recheck by the Daily Racing Form revealed that Jockey Chris McCarron's world record should be 546 winners in a year, not 547. The error occurred before Chris passed Sandy Hawley's mark of 515, so scratch that heart-tugging story of having to catch brother Gregg in the stretch to get the record, and our sympathies to father Herbert, who missed the record-breaking race. One last note, though. When Chris finally did nose ahead of Hawley on Dec. 17, his horse's name was Apr√®s Vous—or After You.
Among the casualties of the fierce blizzard that struck the Midwest two weeks back were a women's basketball tournament in Omaha and a lecture scheduled by the Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul. The national teams of the Republic of China, Mexico and Canada showed up for first-round play all right. It was John F. Kennedy College, the tournament sponsor, that couldn't make the scene. It was snowed in at Wahoo, 35 miles away. The school might have benefited from the Minnesota lecture had that been given. The topic: "How to Survive in Winter."
MELDING FOR MARRIAGE
"Good night, dear," say the 10 smiling wives, and the boys from Yankton, S. Dak. are off to their twice-monthly pinochle game. When they get home in the wee hours, the wives are still smiling. "How much did you lose?" a wife might ask sweetly. When hubby tells her $10, she is apt to utter "whee!" and drop back into a contented sleep. This could be a turning point in domestic relations.
It all began when a judge, an auctioneer, two lawyers, two accountants and four Yankton businessmen got this great idea. They'd play for a dollar a game, a dollar a set and fine themselves for arriving late or for not showing up at all. No excuses accepted. At evening's end winners make nothing, losers cheerfully toss their cash into a pot that is banked in a savings account. When enough cash is raised, they plan a trip for the wives, like the one this year to the Nebraska-Florida Sugar Bowl game, which the women had been panting to see.
Admittedly, the plan needs work before it is ready for national distribution. For instance, to finance the trip for 20 to New Orleans it took five years. But what's a little time when you've got a good thing going?
Deane Beman, commissioner of the pro golf tour, got the year off on a less than triumphant note two weeks ago, threatening reprisal if this country's leading players insist on running off every summer to play the British Open. Unless agreements can be reached, he said, "short of recommending that we do not embrace the British Open, we are searching for the best possible solution that will be fair to our U.S. sponsors."
Doubtless, Beman was responding to pressure. Sponsors of the Milwaukee, Quad Cities (Iowa) and Pleasant Valley (Mass.) tournaments are rightfully upset that big-name players such as Jack Nicklaus and Johnny Miller leave early for Britain and come back late, missing all three U.S. events. Beman hinted that he might make either the tournament before the Open—Milwaukee—or the one after—Pleasant Valley—a designated event, thereby commanding the presence of all leading U.S. players, including Nicklaus and Miller.
The solution, if Beman is serious about it, could lead to outright warfare with the pros, who, bless their mercenary souls, approach the British Open with mixed feelings of adventure and veneration. Their chances of arriving home with more than a few bob in their pockets have been slim, but for once it is enough that they have been a part of the tradition of this oldest of international tournaments.
Golf would be better served if there was a mid-tour break that allowed those who are qualified a leisurely trip aboard with practice time to adjust to Britain's special conditions, and then some breathing space after the Open to tour a cathedral or two. Milwaukee and Pleasant Valley can be pushed back or forward a week, tournaments for the three-week hiatus can be devised. What little sacrifice is involved will be more than offset by the continuation of the British Open as one of the four major golf events of the year, with a history that can be savored when tournaments of lesser acquaintance have been long forgot.
A LEG TO STAND ON
You may remember Spanish Riddle, the 4-year-old thoroughbred whose right foreleg was amputated 15 months ago (SCORECARD, Dec. 17, 1973). We are happy to report he is alive and well and standing at stud in Virginia, and the first of his progeny is due to be foaled this week. Dr. Edward Keefer, the orthopedic surgeon who performed the unusual operation, bought a farm near Spanish Riddle's new home and hopes to be present for the happy occasion.
It hasn't been entirely smooth sailing since the amputation, but with everyone cooperating—especially the horse, which docilely let doctors and trainers handle his sore leg and willingly essayed various artificial hoofs—the operation has been a success. Spanish Riddle now wears a high-laced boot, but moves with ease and serviced 26 mares last year. He has become so much of a favorite at Virginia Stallion Station, where the foal is to be born, that a statue of a horse in the office sports a boot on its right foreleg.
The only active major-leaguer with all five vowels in his first name is who? Aurelio Rodriguez, Detroit infielder. Next question.
COURTING THE WOMEN
Tom Thacker, the clever defensive guard who led the University of Cincinnati to two NCAA basketball titles in the early '60s and then played seven seasons in the pros, has returned to his alma mater to coach the sport. His players are not called Bearcats, though. They are the Bearkittens, Cincinnati's women's varsity.
There may be a trend afoot. Former UCLA All-America Kenny Washington recently directed the Bruin women to the All-Cal Tournament title, and several pros, Celtic Don Nelson most prominent among them, run summer basketball camps which include girls. Thacker finds women more coachable than men. "I have some innovative ideas about basketball that I think they grasp faster than men," he said before his team's first game, against Miami of Ohio. "Women have been playing stereotype basketball. I'm trying to get my girls out of some old habits, like slow, sagging, lazy zones. I'm trying to indoctrinate them into the fast break, pressing zones, zone traps, switching and all the complicated things men do. When I speak of their easy grasp, I mean they don't have preconceived ideas about basketball. They haven't had the early orientation boys have and they haven't developed to the point where they can't change their games."
Thacker's theories will have greater impact, however, when the Bearkittens are permitted to finish what they start. Their opener, played as a preliminary to the men's game with SMU, was aborted with 4:50 to go and Cincy leading 53-50 to allow the men to begin their warmups. The game was recorded as a 0-0 tie.
Miami Coach Elaine Hieber complained that a man had been sent to do a woman's job. "I don't mean to attack Tom Thacker," she said, attacking Tom Thacker, "but if Cincinnati had a woman coach, she would have been fighting against stopping the game as hard as I was."
SINE OF THE TIMES
Students with pocket calculators will please take them out; the rest of you are excused. Our problem for today is to determine the beneficiary in the following eight-digit situation: if you take the 14 million U.S. motorists who are using the highways at any given moment, plus the 215,000 drivers lining up at filling stations, plus 400 unhappy strip mine operators, and set them all in the middle of Saudi Arabia with 69 sheiks dancing around them in oil-rich glee—and you keep the whole mob there for five days (that's right, students, multiply by five)—who is the clear winner? Turn your calculators around and read the answer upside down. Class dismissed.
Almost before the inquisitive stranger can get the words out—"Are you a...? —George Johnson, the 6'11" center of the Golden State Warriors, is replying politely, "No, I'm a gynecologist." At other times he is a pediatrician or a podiatrist or an anesthesiologist. Johnson claims he actually enjoys being approached now. "People show great respect for my ability to pass med school despite my height."
It is a good ploy, but no tall man ever came up with a better answer than Johnny Kerr, who used to play for Syracuse and is now business manager of the Chicago Bulls. "No, ma'am," he once told a nice little lady. "I am a jockey for a dinosaur."
THEY SAID IT
•Johnny Miller, winning his second 1975 tournament after collecting a record $353,021 last year: "The dollars aren't important—once you have them."
•Muhammad Ali, asked if Chuck Wepner, his upcoming foe, was a white hope: "That's the only hope he's got."
•Anne Hayes, wife of Ohio State's Woody, on her speaking schedule: "I always say I am going to talk about sex and marriage, but being a football coach's wife, I don't know about either."