According to Bill Brubaker of the Miami News, top pro prospects among the nation's college football players have learned a new game, and it isn't played on Saturday afternoons in the fall. Take the case of Kentucky All-America Defensive End Art Still. Still admitted to Brubaker that before the 1977 college season began he agreed to be represented by New York agent Matt Snell, the former Jet fullback. Reason? He wanted some spending money, and Snell was willing to lend it to him, even though Still was violating NCAA rules.
Since then Still has dumped Snell, indicated he would sign with Los Angeles agent Mike Trope, borrowed money from Trope, dumped him and signed with another agent, Harold Daniels, from whom he says he has also borrowed money, although Daniels denies it.
"This is a commonplace occurrence," says Trope. "It just never surfaces in print."
For his part, Still shrugs it off. "Everybody will make mistakes and do something illegal," he says. "I was one of those people who made mistakes. I just found a better deal. Daniels and Mike Merkow [Daniels' associate] charge only 3%. My mom told me to keep my eyes open because there's always something better." Still says he will repay the loan from Snell.
But that doesn't satisfy Snell. "I've got news for him," Snell told Brubaker. "The pro teams don't want problems, and right now Art Still represents a problem. Let's say Miami drafts him, and all of his agents show up. Who do they deal with? I have the first contract the kid ever signed, so my contract will be enforced. I know one thing. Art Still is not going to make a fool out of me."
NOT OVER THE...
Probably no one except Frank Merriwell can match the sports career of Jesse Hill, now 71 and about to retire as commissioner of the Pacific Coast Athletic Association. A five-sport athlete in high school, Hill went on to Southern Cal, where he set an IC4A broad-jump record, played fullback for Howard Jones before the biggest crowd of all time (123,000 in Chicago's Soldier Field in a 13-12 loss to Notre Dame in 1929) and was the top hitter on the baseball team. Upon graduating cum laude, he signed with the Hollywood Stars and hit the first pitch thrown to him for a home run. Sold to the Yankees, he played center field next to Babe Ruth during spring training in 1932, hit .305 for the Senators in 1936 and .272 for the Senators and Connie Mack's Athletics in 1937.
After eye troubles cut short his major league career, he coached football and track at Long Beach City College, served in the Navy and then won two NCAA titles as the Southern Cal track coach. Drafted as the football coach, he shifted Frank Gifford from defense to tailback and became the first Pac-8 coach to beat the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl, with a 7-0 win over Wisconsin in 1953. From 1957 to 1972, Hill served as USC athletic director, and upon leaving that job at 65 became the first full-time commissioner of the PCAA.
"Now that I'll have plenty of time on my hands," says Hill, "I think I'll start playing golf again."
UP IN SMOKE
Virginia Slims has been synonymous with women's tennis since 1970, when Gladys Heldman, then publisher of World Tennis magazine, introduced the two to each other. Since then, the January-March tour has prospered, but now it appears that the two have come to a parting of the ways.
Exactly why is unknown. Both Jerry Diamond, the WTA's executive director, and Ellen Merlo, brand manager of Virginia Slims, say there is disagreement over the tour format. Slims wants it to remain the same, with a substantial increase in prize money—that is, 11 $120,000 tournaments with a field of 32, and an eight-player championship event at the end of the season. WTA wants a new look, including at least two $200,000 events for only 16 players. Negotiations between the two groups went on for five months before breaking down.
"It's a time of great opportunity," says Billie Jean King, an advocate of the new format. "We have to move forward. That's why we wanted to inject some new sparkle. The women will have to deliver a good product, as we always have, and I imagine we'll have more than $2 million in prize money next winter."
Mark and Gail Drury, both 21 and married for a little more than a year, recently made history of a sort when they became the first husband and wife to ride against each other in a race at Pimlico. Neither won, but Gail, on Barkley Square, which went off at 24 to 1, finished seventh, eight lengths ahead of her husband, who finished 12th and last aboard Kiria Eleni, a 173 to 1 shot.
Would either claim foul against the other in the event of interference? "Darn right," said Mark. "If Gail wants to do a man's job, she has to take the risks of a man."
Man's job, Mark? Man, you may be in trouble.
An amateur sports law has been a long, expensive, contentious time in coming. This week, when Senate Bill S. 2727 reaches the Senate floor, with a do-pass recommendation from the Commerce Committee, it will have in its lineage years of hearings, volumes of records of NCAA-AAU battles (Arbitrator Theodore Kheel once said amateur sports feuds were more difficult to settle than the toughest labor disputes), dozens of prior bills and a presidential commission's recommendations.
In essence, S. 2727 would broaden the U.S. Olympic Committee's charter to enable it to serve as a central coordinating body for all the sports in the Olympic and Pan-American Games. This legislation would empower the American Arbitration Association to settle questions of athletes' rights and hassles between groups seeking recognition as national governing bodies in specific sports. The bill also contains a list of reforms that national governing bodies such as the AAU must make to retain membership in the USOC and includes a one-shot federal appropriation of $30 million. Of this, $18 million is to go to the sports governing bodies for development programs and $12 million to the USOC for Olympic training centers and a desperately needed sports-medicine program.
Passage is probable. The lobbying powers of the high school associations and the NCAA, which can be formidable—rest assured that your Congressmen return the calls of university presidents and athletic directors—will not be unleashed against S. 2727 so long as a number of promises are kept.
As the bill took shape in committee, the NCAA opposed it. One NCAA attorney repeatedly told Senator Ted Stevens (R., Alaska) that he would suggest improvements but even if they were incorporated, the NCAA would still fight the bill. "Our members will countenance no more federal intervention," said NCAA Executive Director Walter Byers. The touchiest issue was athletes' rights. The NCAA feared disruption of its programs if athletes were free to wander off to China the week of the NCAA finals. For their part, athletes insisted that a guarantee in law was necessary to correct a continuing train of abuses and to make it clear to unreconstructed officials (Byers being one) that athletes must not be pawns in jurisdictional squabbles.
After a series of strained meetings, the athletes' representatives agreed to deletion of that section of the bill defining athletes' rights, and the NCAA agreed to rejoin the USOC (it had left in a huff in 1972) and thus become subject to USOC constitutional provisions for athletes' rights (even these had to be watered down to suit the NCAA). That done, the NCAA announced it will not oppose the bill.
Now the sponsors—Senators Stevens, Richard Stone (D., Fla.), Jim Pearson (R., Kan.), John Culver (D., Iowa) and Howard Cannon (D., Nev.) and Representatives Norm Mineta (D., Calif.), Jack Kemp (R., N.Y.), Robert Michel (R., Ill.) and Ralph Metcalfe (D., Ill.)—must guide this delicately balanced plan through a Congress that is always ready to tack on leaden amendments. "I know the American people are behind a strong amateur sports program," said Senator Stone last week on his way to a White House meeting. "I hope now to convince the Administration, which has been neutral, that this is the best possible start." If Stone wins President Carter's support, passage will be virtually assured. Then, from all those who have gone before, such as John Kennedy, Douglas MacArthur, Kheel, Archibald Cox and Gerald Ford, we will surely hear a faint and weary but gratified cheer.
At the Brooklyn Park, Md. library you can take out a tennis racket or a game of Monopoly, shoot pool, play Ping-Pong in the basement or even fly one of the library's kites. You can also borrow books.
Edward B. Hall, administrator of the Annapolis and Anne Arundel County public library system, is partly responsible for these innovations, which were instituted to cope with the hordes of kids swarming into the reading room on hot days in search of air conditioning, not books. Hall must be doing something right. His system is fourth in the nation in per-capita circulation. Books, not air.
China's national basketball team unveiled a secret weapon in a recent game in Tokyo against a Japanese all-star team, a 7'9¾" player named Mu Tieh-Chu. Mu is no Dr. J when it comes to moves and, in fact, he doesn't run or jump well, but as the Japanese coach, Teiji Hatanaka, pointed out, he "was more effective than we thought he'd be." Mu played only half the game but scored 21 points in an 88-84 victory for China.
To rebound, Mu merely stood on tiptoe, but that was effective against the Japanese, whose tallest player was 6'7". And he stuffed the ball without leaving the ground. Fouling him didn't help because he was deadly from the line. Said Hatanaka, "We didn't know how to control the fellow. An incredible player he was."
For its expanded 16-week regular-season schedule this fall, the NFL has devised a formula that is supposed to balance the competition and make life within a division more equitable. The new plan gives the first-and fourth-place teams in a division the same non-division opponents. The second-and third-place teams also have common opponents. The fifth-place teams have it easiest because their schedules include four games against other fifth-place teams.
All well and good and complicated, but disparities still exist. Using 1977 won-lost records as a barometer, the two Super Bowl teams, Dallas and Denver, have the 10th and sixth easiest schedules, while Los Angeles and Pittsburgh have the second and third easiest. New St. Louis Coach Bud Wilkinson gets initiated by Chicago, New England, Washington, Dallas, Miami, Baltimore and Dallas again in his first seven weeks in the NFL. But the toughest schedule in the NFL belongs to the 3-11 New York Jets, whose opponents had a combined winning percentage of .576 last year and include both the Cowboys and Broncos. The Jets won that distinction over the 3-11 Buffalo Bills because in head-to-head competition last year, the Jets scored one more point than the Bills to beat them out for fourth place. But that was a big point. The Bills' opponents have a winning percentage of .473.
Before anyone starts feeling sorry for the Jets, it should be known that Jim Kensil, the man who drew up the schedule for the NFL while he was its executive director, is now their president.
THEY SAID IT
•Archie Griffin, on his old Ohio State coach, Woody Hayes: "He doesn't know anything about drugs. He still thinks uppers are dentures."
•Don Cherry, coach of the Boston Bruins: "When I said my prayers as a kid, I'd tell the Lord I wanted to be a pro hockey player. Unfortunately, I forgot to mention 'National Hockey League,' and so I spent 16 years in the minors."