WHERE IT STOPS...
The corruption in Arizona college football seems to run about as deep as the Grand Canyon. Last fall Arizona State Coach Frank Kush was dismissed for trying to cover up the fact that he had hit a player, and shortly thereafter the Sun Devils forfeited five of their six victories because of revelations that eight players' academic credits had been falsified. Last week the University of Arizona lost its football coach, Tony Mason, when he resigned after having been accused of submitting phony expense reports and committing violations of recruiting rules and other NCAA regulations.
Both the Tucson Citizen and The Arizona Daily Star have been on Mason's case since January, and they have charged, among other things, that he filed expense reports for trips he never took, that promises of free trips home and money were made to recruits and that players were given loans and no-show jobs. Most of the allegations center around the travel expenses. Vouchers were made out for airplane tickets and per diem on 10 imaginary trips. In addition, Mason submitted expense reports that resulted in his being doubly reimbursed. Mason defended these practices as necessary to cover his and his assistants' "out-of-pocket expenses" that the state would not pay. The expenses, he said, included such items as drinks, movie tickets, shoeshines and Lifesavers.
That doesn't explain, though, the $6,000 allegedly paid to players by the Tucson Parks and Recreation Department for work they did not perform. Or the trip, paid for out of athletic-department funds, for the woman from California who stayed in a room at a resort while she was in Tucson. The university says the trip was a thank-you for her assistance in West Coast recruiting. Her former husband happened to own a massage parlor.
One player, a starter for Arizona, was quoted last week as saying that he received three sizable loans from Mason on the understanding that he didn't have to pay the money back. "The coach told me it was no problem," said the player, "that he could help me out but that I would have to pay him back. Then he laughed to let me know I didn't really."
The Arizona athletic department is now faced with the twofold task of quickly finding a successor to Mason and conducting an investigation of its football program. Donald Myers, a former Arizona faculty chairman, says, "There ought to be more than merely an administrative investigation. I don't think the resignation [of Mason] itself solves the problem. The real problem is the prevention of recurrences in the future." While Athletic Director Dave Strack stopped short of directly defending Mason, he did say, "The per diem and other reimbursements authorized by the state do not begin to cover the amounts that these coaches actually pay for their expenses." Maybe he should just tell his coaches to take it easy on the Lifesavers.
The last word on that Speech Communication 380 course at Southern Cal (SCORECARD, March 31) is that 26 enrolled athletes who never attended it and were allowed to take a makeup will now have to complete a makeup of the makeup. The whole thing started last December—four weeks before the Rose Bowl—when it was discovered that the athletes, most of whom were football players, weren't attending the classes. They were then given a five-day "crash course" and, forthwith, declared by their instructor to have completed the requirements for Speech Communication 380. But last week Southern Cal President John R. Hubbard announced that the second makeup will be required because of "irregularities discovered in the conduct of the first makeup." Among the irregularities was the submission by some student-athletes of work that was not their own.
The course has already cost the speech instructor and the athletic department's academic coordinator their jobs, but it isn't about to cost USC its 17-16 Rose Bowl victory over Ohio State. Both the NCAA and the Pacific-10 say that as long as the students were enrolled in the fall semester—which ends in late January—they were eligible to play. One of the ironies of the situation is that the athletes weren't even supposed to take Speech Communication 380 in the first place: the course was open only to members of the debating team.
The recently completed NBA and NHL regular seasons seemed to enhance Detroit's reputation as the city of chumps. The Pistons, who played under coaches Dick Vitale and Richie Adubato, lost 29 of their last 31 games to finish at 16-66, the worst record in the league and in the history of the franchise. That would have given them the first pick in the NBA draft, had they not traded their No. 1 pick away to the Celtics last fall for Bob McAdoo. The Red Wings, meanwhile, accomplished the near-impossible feat of not making the playoffs in a league in which 16 of 21 teams qualify. Coach Bobby Kromm was fired the same week as Adubato and was replaced by Marcel Pronovost, who in turn was succeeded last week by the former General Manager (Terrible) Ted Lindsay.
The NFL Lions won all of two games in 1979, but fortunately they held on to their No. 1 draft pick, who will probably be Oklahoma Halfback Billy Sims, although Sims' agent, Dr. Jerry Argovitz, says the Lions aren't even in the Silver-dome as far as prospective contract money is concerned.
Detroit's most successful team is the Tigers, who last season had the misfortune of playing in the strongest division in baseball: their 85-76 record was good for only fifth in the AL East. The Tigers' World Series win of 12 years ago was Mo-town's most recent major championship. The Lions' last title of any kind came in 1957, which was two years after the Red Wings won their last Stanley Cup. The Pistons haven't won much of anything since abandoning Fort Wayne in 1957. The four teams have had 50 managers and coaches, some of them twice, since 1956. With two years under his belt, Monte Clark, coach of the Lions, is the senior man in town.
The funny thing is, Detroit fans keep coming back for more. This season the Red Wings attracted more people—15,104 per game—than they ever had, thanks in part to the opening of Joe Louis Arena, while the Pistons had their second-highest attendance ever. The Tigers pulled in more than 1.6 million fans in 1979, and the Lions had the sixth-largest average gate in the NFL, 67,500 a game. But the natives are restless. Bumper stickers around town read BRING PROFESSIONAL SPORTS BACK TO DETROIT, and a new organization called DEAD, for Detroiters Enraged At Deadsports (anything for an acronym), has been gaining strength. Taking a cue from fans in the City of Champions, Pittsburgh, the Detroit insurgents have been distributing DEAD Towels. They are not for waving, though. They are for crying into.
Wasn't it nice of us not to mention Chrysler?
Last week when 7'4" freshman Ralph Sampson politely declined the Celtics' offer to make him the NBA's top draft choice and announced that he would continue his college career at the University of Virginia for at least one more season, there were sighs of relief in Charlottesville and cries of outrage from Boston. "The people who advised him to stay in school will have trouble sleeping nights," said Celtic General Manager Red Auerbach. "They're taking away earning potential he'll never get back, and they're forgetting that if he gets hit by a car, it's the end of the line. It's ridiculous. If he were an intellectual genius and was planning on being a surgeon, you could see him wanting to go to school." Auerbach added that Sampson and his parents were being "hoodwinked by a few glad-handers."
This comes from a man who has a master's degree in education from George Washington University.
Dave (Kong) Kingman, the Cubs' major league home-run champion, made his debut as a columnist two weeks ago for the Chicago Tribune. Kingman, who has already been reprimanded by the league this spring for dumping a bucket of ice water over the head of sportswriter Don Friske of the Arlington Heights (Ill.) Daily Herald, poured some more cold water on the journalism profession in his first column. In a long-winded and platitudinous piece ghostwritten by free-lancer Gerald Pfeiffer, Kingman promised "not to invent imaginary turmoil simply to fill up space" and not to "partake in the 'headline' game practiced by so many writers who have convinced themselves they must compete for your readership using any ploy whatsoever." Kingman explained that although his first inclination was to turn down the offer of a column, "I soon began playing with the idea of what it would be like getting quoted accurately for a change." He also allowed as how the Cubs might just surprise some people.
The same day that Kingman made his debut, Mike Royko, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the rival Chicago Sun-Times, relinquished his space to slugger Dave Dingdong, who introduced himself as "the tall, dark, handsome leftfielder who hits those towering homers. I'd be a standout anywhere, but especially in Wrigley Field, because most of my teammates are nothings." Dingdong went on to write, "You might wonder why I've broken my legendary silence. Well, I'm a frank and honest person. And to be frank and honest, I'll do anything for a buck, even break my legendary silence. And if you wonder why I've been silent so long, it's because basically I'm a shallow, self-centered person who has few ideas and nothing to say."
Three weeks ago, Dave Green lay motionless in the ring in Landover, Md. for several moments after being knocked out in the fourth round by WBC welterweight champion Sugar Ray Leonard. Denis Lehane of The Sunday Times of London writes that the British Boxing Board of Control had no business allowing Green to get into the ring with Leonard. Lehane, who documented the board's complicity in the death last fall of middleweight Willie Classen (SI, March 24), points out that although Green won nine of 10 fights between June of 1977, when Carlos Palomino knocked him out, and the time of the Leonard fight, all but one of his victories were against lackluster North Americans brought to England to pad his record. Green's one loss was by knockout to 36-year-old Jorgen Hansen of Denmark.
Lehane charges that four of Green's opponents arrived in England without the proper medical certification. One of them fought 52 days after being knocked out, even though he was under a 60-day suspension. It is believed that another boxer was refused a medical certificate by one doctor the night before his fight with Green, only to have a second physician pass him. With his record inflated to 33-2, Green got a No. 10 ranking from the WBC, which is heavily influenced by the British board. According to Lehane, Ray Clarke, the general secretary of the BBBC, voiced fears about the Leonard-Green match and only agreed to it because he thought that Leonard didn't have a big punch. Clarke now maintains it was a reasonable match.
Of the fight, Lehane concludes, "It was a sordid, sickening spectacle where one brave man was sent to take a certain beating against an opponent several classes above him in all the boxing skills. The object of this degrading event was to make money, only a small proportion of which went to Dave Green. The British Boxing Board of Control failed to protect Willie Classen in October 1979; it failed to protect Dave Green last Monday night."
THEY SAID IT
•Merv Rettenmund, California coach, on weak-throwing star, Don Baylor: "He's the guts of the Angels, our triple threat. He can hit, run and lob."
•Ken Stabler, the Houston Oilers' new quarterback, on his life-style: "There's nothing wrong with reading the game plan by the light of the jukebox."
•Ed Miller, centerfielder for the Atlanta Braves, on his goals for his first full season in the majors: "I plan to hit .330, make no more than three errors in the outfield and steal 85 bases—100 bases if I wasn't a team man."