PITINO AND PROVIDENCE
While Providence College regrets the departure of Rick Pitino (POINT AFTER, Aug. 3), it should be pointed out that he did not break his contract. As a matter of fact, he didn't even ask to be released from it.
When Rick informed me of his opportunity to become head coach of the New York Knicks, I immediately told him that we would release him from his contractual obligations if he wished to make the move to New York. I think this is an important point that has not been completely understood by some of the public.
During his two years at Providence College, Pitino not only showed extraordinary ability as a basketball coach but also gave his players a fine example of leadership. His interest in them reached far beyond a coach-player relationship. He was their leader, but more importantly he also was their friend. We wish him well as he undertakes his new position.
(REV.) JOHN FABIAN CUNNINGHAM, O.P.
To Pitino's credit, he actually did not break his contract but rather was released from it. To his discredit, after announcing on May 1 that he was happily planning to stay at PC, Pitino broke his word. Although we cannot quibble with the legalities of his departure, we can take exception to the legacy he leaves to his players and new recruits: Promises are made to be broken.
THOMAS J. GUILMETTE
The essay on Rick Pitino's leaving Providence reveals a double standard in college athletics. While Pitino is free to accept his chance of a lifetime, the athletes he recruited and who came to his program must either suffer under someone new or transfer to another school and spend at least one year in athletic limbo at great cost to themselves.
The special report, Agents of Turmoil, in the same issue reveals what everyone knows: College athletics means big bucks for everyone except the athlete.
State College, Pa.
Major college football is big business, routinely packing stadiums with 50,000 to 100,000 spectators each game. Key players are often recruited solely for their athletic skills, and with a disproportionate number having economically disadvantaged backgrounds, it is unlikely they would otherwise have attended college. It is their dream to eventually obtain a lucrative pro contract, not just to play four years of unpaid football.
Because of either naivetè or greed, the NCAA and major college administrators have chosen not to recognize the financial needs of many players in their collegiate "farm system." The needs exist, however, as the success of agents Norby Walters and Lloyd Bloom has so clearly shown. If the NCAA changed the rules to allow players to be paid while learning their trade, it would be acknowledging the reality of college sports today as well as the needs of the players.
DAVID O. MOORSHEAD
THE $8 MILLION MAN
Tooling around the Gulf of Mexico in a $150,000 Scarab (Vinny's Ship Has Come In, Aug. 3)? A Corvette for when he just doesn't feel like taking out the Jag? Backing the Beach Boys on Barbara Ann? I'm not saying that the various evils that have befallen too many of our young athletes will plague Vinny Testa-verde. He seems to be a wise and serious man. However, is it any wonder that so many newly crowned millionaire athletes succumb to the lures of drugs, laziness and unscrupulous agents?
It's time to stop throwing millions at young men who have not played a single game of pro ball. Testaverde's ship may have come in, but for too many others the subsequent sailing is not smooth.
Bryn Mawr, Pa.
TRAPPER NEIL & CO.
Nice story on the Salt Lake Trappers baseball team with the 29-game winning streak (Streak City, Aug. 3). The implication seems to be that the players are a bunch of "unknown rejects." Maybe so, but at least one has impressive genes.
Neil Reynolds, the first baseman, who also played for manager Jim Gilligan at Lamar University, is a grandson of Carl Reynolds Sr. and a son of Carl Reynolds Jr. Granddad was a major league star with the White Sox, Senators, Browns, Red Sox and Cubs from 1927 to '39. Dad was a stellar collegian for the Rice University Owls. He once hit three home runs in one game in a Rice victory over Minnesota when the Gophers were NCAA champions.
Rice Sports Information Director (1950-84)
We find it ironic that professional baseball's consecutive-win record was set by players making $500 a month. We wonder if the $8 million man (Vinny Testa-verde) will bring Tampa Bay fans the same measure of thrills and excitement that a group of "unknown" guys have given to Salt Lake City this summer.
Salt Lake City
I read with interest your article on today's technologically juiced-up game of golf (Has Golf Gotten Too Groovy? Aug. 3). There must have been some very good reasons for keeping the aluminum bat out of major league baseball. Judging by the tape-measure shots of a lot of otherwise average college-level hitters who use aluminum bats, we can assume that metal does things to a ball that wood can't do. It follows that the same would be true of metal woods in golf.
I'd like to see some of the younger players on the Tour who are shooting 63s with Taylor "woods" and Ping irons be forced to use traditional woods and blades for a few tournaments. I bet there would be some different results. Besides, I hate the sound of metal woods.
Garden Grove, Calif.
Have advances in golf equipment turned every Tom, Dick and Harry into a Hogan? I'd have to agree with Gary Adams of Taylor Made: "Equipment is never going to replace talent." The older players will just have to face the fact that not only the equipment is getting better, but the players are, too.
As an owner of Ping Eye 2 irons, I ask: How can we make these clubs legal? Is Karsten Solheim going to take them back and regroove them to meet USGA standards, or is the USGA going to let the clubs "pass inspection," so we the people can participate in future USGA events? I'd hate to think I've spent $750 and waited four months for nothing.
East Hampton, N.Y.
The USAF Thunderbirds (America the Beautiful's Team, Aug. 3) need not accept the Navy Blue Angels' claim to be the first military aerobatic team. Post-World War II military formation aerobatics began with three pilots of the 49th Fighter Group, 5th Air Force, at an air show over Meiji Stadium, Tokyo, on Nov. 11, 1945. The pilots were Major James A. Watkins and 1st Lieuts. Edwin Weigel (that's me) and Ray Lierley. The highlight of the show was a double Immelmann performed in close formation with P-38 L5 aircraft. I first saw this maneuver (a breathtaking S-shaped climb from ground level to 10,000 feet) performed by an American test pilot flying a captured Japanese OSCAR at Clark Field, Philippine Islands, early in 1945. I think no other fighter plane of the era, except the P-38, was capable of doing that.
The first publicly recognized aerobatic team in the U.S. military came from the 55th Fighter Squadron, 20th Fighter Group, Biggs Field, El Paso. I was the squadron's historical officer as well as a team pilot (the photograph shows me in a teammate's plane). We flew P-38s. Our unofficial purpose was to promote the Air Force as a separate branch of the armed services. We achieved that goal when the "brown shoe" Army Air Corps became the "blue suit" U.S. Air Force in 1947.
The Navy's Blue Angels appeared at some of the same shows—at Indianapolis and perhaps at the 1946 National Air Races at Cleveland—but they did not have precedence. There were other teams in other types of aircraft, such as the P-47 team from Colonel Dave Schilling's group at Selfridge Field in Mount Clemens, Mich. Audiences generally agreed that the formation aerobatic show belonged to the P-51 pilots, such as Capt. Jim Brooks (later a test pilot for North American Aviation, Inc.), Capts. Bob Coble, Harry Evans and Enoch Row, and 1st Lieut. Don Sirman. Evans later led the USAF team known as the Sky Blazers in the early fifties. So, to ignore the formative years of the Thunderbirds and cede genesis to their top rivals would be to do an injustice to a legion of great flyers.
COURTESY OF ED WEIGEL
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