A DEVIL OF A TIME
The situation at Arizona State gets nastier all the time. First came the $1.1 million lawsuit filed by a former ASU punter, Kevin Rutledge, who accused football Coach Frank Kush of punching him on the sideline during a game. Then Athletic Director Fred Miller fired Kush for allegedly lying about the incident (SI, Oct. 29). Now it turns out that the NCAA and Arizona law-enforcement officials are investigating a host of new allegations of suspected wrongdoing involving not only Kush but also his accuser, Miller, and his successor as coach, Bob Owens.
The Arizona Republic says that the NCAA has been looking into reports that Kush and Miller split $63,000 in proceeds from a football booster banquet. If they pocketed any such money, it might be in violation of NCAA rules. And last week university President John Schwada asked the NCAA to broaden its inquiry after five ASU players gave him sworn statements. One player said that drag-strip operator Rick Lynch had offered him a car or money if he would testify against Kush. Another said that Owens, then an assistant coach, had undermined Kush by acting as an "informant" for Lynch.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety was meanwhile investigating the possibility that $183,010 worth of complimentary football and basketball tickets was misused and that $140,000 in ticket money was never deposited. There also were reports of ticket refunds going astray and of a delay on the part of an ASU booster club, the Sun Angel Foundation, in remitting $585,000 in 1978 season ticket proceeds—resulting in a loss of interest to the school. There were further allegations that players had received cash payments from Arizona State boosters and that Miller was guilty of a conflict of interest because the university paid $2,075 a month to a weight-training service owned by a man with whom Miller is associated in a health-food-supplement business. And finally, at ASU's request, the Pac-10 was investigating possible infractions involving the transfer of credits of eight players, a probe that conference officials said could lead to forfeiture by ASU of some of this season's games.
As new clouds gathered over the ASU football program, Miller offered a point-by-point rebuttal of the accusations against him and Kush appeared on ABC-TV to deny anew that he had punched Rutledge. Since he had also been accused during his 21½ years as ASU coach of yanking players by their face masks, stepping on their hands and hitting them with pipes and boards, Kush seemed to be drawing a rather fine distinction when he said, "I've never punched a youngster skin to skin."
It took a bit of doing, but The Phoenix Gazette's Jerry Guibor actually found something to chuckle about while covering ASU's burgeoning scandal. Casting about for the telephone number of Gary Bouck, one of several ASU players who say they saw Kush slug Kevin Rutledge, Guibor called Chester Kropp, the Sun Devils' 73-year-old assistant equipment manager. "Chester, do you happen to have Gary Bouck's number?" he asked.
"Just a minute," Kropp said. Guibor cooled his heels for what seemed an eternity before Kropp returned to the phone.
"Sixty-five," the equipment man said.
OVERFLIGHTS & OVERSIGHTS
In his just-published memoir, White House Years, Henry Kissinger tells of the day in 1970 that he saw photos taken from U-2 reconnaissance planes of a submarine base under construction on Cayo Alcatraz, an island off Cuba's southern coast. A soccer field was visible in the photos, and Kissinger writes, "In my eyes this stamped it indelibly as a Russian base, since as an old soccer fan I knew Cubans played no soccer."
Kissinger slights Cuban soccer. The Asociación de Fútbol de Cuba was founded in 1924 and in the 1930s soccer was so popular among Cubans on Sunday afternoons that winter-league baseball games had to be played in the mornings to avoid conflicts. In 1934 Cuba defeated Haiti in a World Cup qualifying tournament before being eliminated by Mexico, and four years later made it to the final eight of the World Cup in France. Although the sport declined slightly in popularity in the '50s, it revived after Fidel Castro assumed power in 1959. Cuba has entered all World Cup qualifying tournaments since the early '60s and now has 70 organized teams, whose best players are selected for the country's blue-and-white-clad national team. At the time Kissinger was studying the U-2 photos, there were dozens of soccer fields in Cuba.
Apprised of his error last week by SI, Kissinger replied that he was glad nobody pointed it out to him in 1970. Though he reached the conclusion for the wrong reasons, the submarine base indeed turned out to be Russian and, under U.S. pressure, construction was halted. Of Cuba's rich soccer tradition, Kissinger says, "If I knew in 1970 what I know in 1979, there might be a nuclear submarine base in Cuba today."
A NEW BALLY GAME
Bowie Kuhn has benched Willie Mays. The commissioner ruled last week that Mays would have to quit as goodwill ambassador and part-time coach of the New York Mets because he planned to sign a 10-year promotional contract—"to visit hospitals and to take part in golf programs," said Mays—with Bally Manufacturing Corporation, which is opening a casino in Atlantic City this month. In acting in baseball's "best interests," Kuhn ignored the fact that gambling is just as legal in Atlantic City casinos as it is in horse racing, in which a number of prominent baseball figures, including Pirate owner John Galbreath and the late Joan Payson, who brought Mays to the Mets, have been deeply involved. Kuhn also ignored the fact that ballplayers appear in celebrity golf tournaments sponsored by casinos.
Kuhn has the unquestioned authority—and the duty—to protect baseball's integrity. While affiliations with gambling interests are a legitimate area of concern, it is hard to see how the mere signing of a promotional tie-in with Bally besmirches the game any more than the aforementioned activities about which Kuhn does nothing. In banishing Mays, the commissioner is being both inconsistent and overzealous.
Cecil Fernandez was a legend in the Florida prison system, a hard-hitting, superbly conditioned 125-pounder who logged close to 200 fights against other inmates and won virtually all of them, including several knockouts of heavyweights. After serving 12 years for armed robbery and rape, "The Rock," as he was known, was paroled 18 months ago. Persuading local politicians to provide the necessary materials, he constructed a ring beneath an expressway in northwest Miami, where he helped train younger boxers. And where, at 33, he himself began preparing for a belated pro career.
Fernandez won his first professional fight and went looking for victory No. 2 on Oct. 19 in Georgetown, Guyana against Patrick Ford, a Guyana native and the WBC's eighth-ranked featherweight. It was a fierce battle in sweltering heat and Fernandez was knocked down in the opening round. But he got in some licks against the 24-year-old Ford, too—a cut above Ford's eye required four stitches—and he appeared to get stronger as the fight wore on. The ninth was Fernandez' best round. He came out with a flurry in the 10th and final round. Then, stepping back from a clinch, he collapsed, apparently without having been struck. Ford was awarded a TKO as Fernandez sank into a coma.
Forty-eight hours later Fernandez was transferred from a Georgetown hospital to one in Miami, where his family stood vigil. His mother revealed that she had urged him to quit boxing only a week before the fight but that he had refused, with the explanation that he intended to be world champion. That goal eluded him. Last Wednesday morning the Rock died of a brain injury he had suffered in the fight in Guyana.
FROM PEKING TO PLACID
The International Olympic Committee's executive board last week cleared the way for the People's Republic of China to take part in the 1980 Winter Games next February in Lake Placid. At a meeting in Nagoya, Japan, the board passed a resolution that Nationalist China, whose presence in the Olympic movement prompted the mainland Chinese to bolt the IOC in 1958, compete henceforth as "China Taipei" rather than under its preferred name of the Republic of China and refrain from using its own flag or anthem. The resolution is expected to be approved by a majority of the IOC's 89 members in time for Peking to meet the Dec. 1 deadline for entering the Winter Games. Savoring that prospect, Song Zhong, secretary general of the mainland Chinese Olympic Committee, lauded the board's action as "extremely realistic and reasonable."
The Nationalist Chinese disagreed. Noting that the IOC board had arrived at what was ostensibly a two-China compromise, Lawrence Ting, vice-president of Taiwan's Olympic Committee, said ruefully that his country "was like an expectant father wondering whether the baby would be a boy or a girl, and it turned out to be twins." Ting and other Nationalist officials termed "completely unacceptable" the IOC proposal that they come up with a new flag and anthem for Olympic purposes. Unless they change their minds, their country could be out of the Olympics.
The U.S., which now maintains diplomatic relations with Peking but not Taiwan, had advised the IOC that it would have been "embarrassed" had a Taiwanese team entered the U.S. under the name Republic of China to compete in the Winter Games. Last week's action thus came as a relief to Washington. It no doubt also pleased the 300 athletes in the People's Republic who are training for the '80 Olympics, including not only figure and speed skaters bound for Lake Placid but also a good-sized contingent preparing for the Summer Games in Moscow.
WHERE DID THE BALL GO?
If what happened the other evening in New Haven, Conn. is a portent, the People's Republic of China may have some stupefying deeds in store for Olympic spectators. The Chinese gymnastics team was making a two-week tour of the U.S., and owners of the New Haven Night-hawk hockey team invited the visitors to a game and arranged for women's Coach Qu Derui to enter a between-periods "Shoot the Puck" contest in which fans vie for a 1980 Chevette. To win the car, one had to shoot a puck through a four-inch aperture in a target 60 feet away, something only two contestants had accomplished in eight years.
So imagine everyone's shock at the shot Qu got off. He had never been to a hockey game and, after whacking at the puck, he closed his eyes. When he opened them, he asked through an interpreter, "Where did the ball go?" The roar of the 4,018 fans in the Veterans Memorial Coliseum told the story: astonishingly, the puck had gone in. When he realized he had won the car, Qu trotted around the rink jubilantly, arms aloft. Rather than go to the trouble of shipping the car to China, Qu accepted a check for $4,000 for the benefit of the Chinese Gymnastics Federation. But not before he and other members of the Chinese delegation, few of whom had ever been behind the wheel of a car, had taken turns driving the Chevette around an open area in the arena.
THEY SAID IT
•Reggie Theus, one of three Chicago Bull guards—the others are Ricky Sobers and Sam Smith—from Nevada-Las Vegas: "If we get one more player from Nevada-Las Vegas, the NBA will put us on probation."
•Tony Mason, Arizona football coach, on the difficulty of recruiting against Southern Cal's John Robinson: "I sell cactus. He sells Heismans."
•Cliff Parsley, Houston Oiler punter, on kicking specialists' salaries: "People think our income is much greater than it really is. I'm barely making enough to pay off my Cadillac."