Look what they're teaching in college these days. At USC they're offering non-credit instruction in Advanced Loophole Finding. The prof is the school's president, James H. Zumberge, who has been demonstrating expertise in that field in the aftermath of the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision voiding the NCAA's football TV package. As Zumberge sees it, the court's decision means that the NCAA no longer has the right to prohibit the Trojans from appearing on football telecasts this season, which was one of the sanctions it levied against USC in 1982 as punishment for an elaborate ticket-scalping operation that enriched football players by more than $200,000 over a nine-year period. USC lawyers have come up with a technicality on which Zumberge bases his argument: In announcing its TV sanctions against USC, the NCAA used wording that suggested it was deriving the authority to act from its control of college football telecasts, a control that the Supreme Court decision has now eliminated.
Shaken as it is by that decision and other recent legal setbacks, the NCAA certainly doesn't relish the prospect of the court fight USC says it's prepared to wage over the sanctions issue. That may be why it sounded conciliatory in agreeing to meet with USC officials this week in Boston to review the situation. But USC's machinations are objectionable. The NCAA was careless in using language that appeared to link sanctions against USC to its TV plan; NCAA rules, which have been approved by member schools, more broadly empower the organization to bar wrongdoers from appearing not only on NCAA-arranged telecasts but also on "any other" live telecasts. Contrary to what Zumberge implies, the Supreme Court ruling didn't negate that provision; in fact, sections of the decision can be interpreted as affirming the NCAA's continued right to use TV sanctions as punishment. Significantly, the NCAA imposes TV sanctions in basketball, a sport in which it doesn't control regular-season telecasts.
Unlike USC, the University of Wisconsin, whose football team is also barred from appearing on TV in 1984, has elected to swallow its medicine. Bob Leu, the school's director of radio-TV, says, "Our president feels we're a member in good standing with the NCAA, and we'll abide by the [TV sanctions]."
Zumberge is clearly trying to use the Supreme Court decision to wriggle out of a punishment that he simply considers unjust. He accuses the NCAA of a tendency to "mismatch the penalty with the infraction" and complains that NCAA officials didn't properly "study and evaluate the impact of a television prohibition on a school like USC, as compared to some other school that would never appear on television anyway." In arguing, in effect, that USC is a bigger television attraction than other institutions, Zumberge ignores an important point. One way USC got so big was through the very cheating—in addition to the ticket-scalping scheme, the school has been guilty of wrongdoing involving admission standards and academics—that prompted the NCAA to take action against it.
RODEO DRIVE, HERE WE COME
After Saudi Arabia unexpectedly earned one of 16 Olympic soccer berths by winning a zonal elimination tournament in Singapore in April, members of the Saudi team were given a hero's welcome in their native land. Fans stormed the airport on the team's arrival home and mobbed the flower-bedecked team bus during the drive to downtown Riyadh. In the best tradition of the Arab world, if not of amateur athletics, the players were then showered with gifts.
First, at the palace of Crown Prince Abdullah, they were handed manila envelopes. Starters found theirs stuffed with bank notes totaling around $14,000, while second-stringers received $5,000. Prince Fahd bin Sultan, head of the country's soccer federation, gave each player a bag of gold worth about $10,000. The Saudi-American Bank gave them $1,000 each, and Saudi Arabian Airlines offered free first-class, roundtrip airline tickets to any destination in the world. From King Fahd came Rolex watches and plots of land worth more than $100,000 apiece. No special accounting was kept of the number of Mercedes 500 SELs that were handed out.
"What happens is this," says one informant close to the team. "You're invited to call on a prince at home to drink tea. You speak of this and that and, as you leave, a steward of the prince hands you a set of car keys. For actual salary, the Arab tradition is not so much. The players get about $11,500 a month walking-around money. But the gifts are grandiose. And it is not unmannerly to ask for one."
GERRY AND THE ISLANDERS
Dr. Jeffrey Minkoff is an orthopedist whose patients include the New York Islanders—he's one of the team doctors—and heavyweight boxer Gerry Cooney. Last week Minkoff diagnosed as a pulled muscle the shoulder injury Cooney suffered while sparring in preparation for a scheduled July 20 fight against Philip Brown. Cooney's handlers expressed relief that it wasn't a torn rotator cuff, as originally feared, but the muscle pull was bothersome enough to force an indefinite postponement of the Brown fight. That was only the latest of many setbacks for Cooney, who, because of a series of physical and emotional problems, has now gone 25 months since his last fight, in which he was stopped in the 13th round by Larry Holmes. A lot of people think Cooney is malingering, and while that may be unfair, he certainly doesn't come off too well in comparison with Minkoff's other patients, the Islanders. After all, most of them have had more fights over the past couple of years than Cooney has.
STAY TUNED FOR THE 16-WORD DASH
The Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee has officially, unilaterally, arbitrarily and more or less seriously decreed that President Reagan's appearance in the Los Angeles Coliseum on July 28 to open the Summer Olympics is—hold on to your Sam the Olympic Eagle pins—a sports event. By so saying, the LAOOC has taken care of the formalities that ensure that ABC, holder of the U.S. broadcast rights to the Games, will be the only outfit that will be allowed to provide live coverage of the President's appearance. Had the occasion been deemed news instead of sports, it would have been open to such coverage by everybody. Although some of ABC's radio rivals grumbled, the LAOOC's designation of Reagan's appearance as a sports event appears to have stuck.
And what does the White House think about all this? Under Olympic protocol, the opening statement by a head of state is limited to a few strictly prescribed words, a fact that helped persuade Herbert Hoover to skip the ceremonies at the 1932 Games, also in Los Angeles, and designate Vice-President Charles Curtis as his stand-in. Citing the brevity of the official opening proclamation, Curtis said upon arrival in L.A., "It really wasn't worthwhile for the President to come here from so far away." The opening statement that Reagan will recite consists of just 16 or 17 words, depending on whether you count Los Angeles as one or two: "I declare open the Olympic Games of Los Angeles celebrating the XXIII Olympiad of the modern era." But the President may also address the U.S. Olympic team during his L.A. visit, and his strategists are so sure that his Olympic appearance will boost his reelection chances that they plan to film it for showing during the Republican convention, just as they previously filmed his visits to Japan, South Korea, Ireland and France. After all, it isn't every day that the President not only attends a major sports event but also is one.
The LAOOC's labeling of a political appearance as a sports event raises this intriguing question: Have the L.A. organizers, who've complained so vociferously about the politicizing of sports, now succeeded, in effect, in sporticizing politics?
AND CAREW WILL MAKE IT $40 MILLION
It happened in San Francisco at the traditional commissioner's brunch held before baseball's All-Star Game. After listening to various baseball people talk about how the host city desperately needed to build a facility to replace windblown Candlestick Park, Mayor Dianne Feinstein agreed that a new ball park was indeed a good idea. She added, "All I need now is a $20 million angel." Reggie Jackson, who was in attendance, promptly raised his hand.
THIS LEAGUE'S A REGULAR SIX-DAY WONDER
This may be the answer for all those fans who complain about sports seasons dragging on forever. Team Tennis, a six-team league, compressed its entire 1984 operation into six days. The regular season lasted two days, the playoffs another three and on Day 6 came the championship. Every match was played at the Los Angeles Forum, which was probably a good thing; otherwise, travel time might have been longer than the season.
Team Tennis officials insisted that the eyeblink season was a fluke. According to Billie Jean King, who with her husband, Larry, founded Team Tennis in 1981 and is the league's commissioner and a player-part owner of the Chicago Fire, the season was held to six days so it wouldn't conflict with the Olympics. But the league also wanted to remain at least a blip in the tennis public's collective unconscious. "If we didn't do anything this year, people would say we failed again," said King, who played in World Team Tennis, an earlier pro league that folded in 1979. Next year, King promised, Team Tennis will expand by two teams and three weeks.
Last week's "season" offered a brand of play that was occasionally brisk, but more often drowsy. Everything about the league looked improvised. The official program listed the same coach for San Diego and St. Louis: "To be determined." None of the other teams even bothered naming one. Franchises reputedly existed in six cities, but no team has ever actually played in Long Beach, which lost to San Diego in the championship match on Sunday. Until the teams assembled in L.A., some doubles partners had never practiced together. A typical crowd of barely 1,000 showed up for a match between the St. Louis Eagles and the San Diego Buds, not more than half of them being relatives and friends of the Eagles' Vince Van Patten, who hasn't so much as visited St. Louis since 1978. During a subsequent match between the Buds and the Los Angeles Strings, the arena's deathly quiet was broken only by the untennislike cheering of a fan named Arn Tellem.
"Miss it!" he yelled at a Bud player ready to smash a lob.
"Why don't you get a job!" retorted the Buds' outraged Brad Gilbert, who was on the bench.
"I have one, pal," answered Tellem, an attorney." you don't."
Tellem was rooting for the hometown Strings, who are owned by Jeanie Buss, the vivacious 22-year-old daughter of Jerry, owner of the Forum, Lakers and Kings. He gave his daughter the team as a gift. "I'm gonna try to get Team Tennis franchises into the next Neiman-Marcus catalog," Jeanie cheerily said. "It's the perfect Christmas present for your kid. It even beats getting a 928 Porsche."
Come next season, King vows, Team Tennis will do its best to make a bigger racket.
THEY SAID IT
•Jackie Moore, who became the Oakland A's skipper earlier this season, when asked if he considered himself an interim manager: "In the majors there are 26 interim managers."
•Pat Williams, Philadelphia 76er general manager, at a roast of Utah Jazz coach Frank Layden: "When the list of great coaches is finally read, I believe Frank Layden will be there listening."