In Rick Telander's article on big-time college football (Something Must Be Done, Oct. 2), I was quoted out of context, thus giving an erroneous impression about my attitude toward athletics and academics, as well as the position of Florida State University on this issue. The topic was Deion Sanders' poor classroom attendance, and I was quoted as saying, "I'll let the athletic director handle the matter...just as I would let the dean of any other school handle similar situations."
My statement was made in January 1989, after the semester had ended, after the Sugar Bowl had been played and after Deion Sanders had left school. Sanders had complied fully with NCAA rules regarding eligibility, and that was the point of my quote—our athletic director handled NCAA rule compliance.
The academic issue was handled by the office of the dean of undergraduate studies, and Sanders received the full penalty—a failing grade for those courses he didn't attend during the fall semester. Before his senior year, he had a good class attendance record and was in good standing academically.
Obviously Sanders felt publicity would do more for his pro salary negotiations than would paying attention to school work. By that fall he had, in fact, signed a pro baseball contract and was no longer on athletic scholarship. It is inappropriate to blame universities for the way professional athletics and the sports media react to talented athletes.
We and the Florida university system have now eliminated the loophole, which still exists in the NCAA rules, that made Sanders eligible for postseason play despite his poor academic performance during the previous term. We will continue to put our academic mission above our interest in fine intercollegiate athletics.
BERNARD F. SLIGER
Florida State University
•TOLEDO'S LOSS (CONT.)
Douglas S. Looney's The Ax Falls at Toledo (Dec. 25-Jan. 1) captured the frustration many of us here at the University of Toledo felt when athletic director Al Bohl fired Dan Simrell. As a graduate student, I liked Simrell because he kept the Rockets from being what Bohl would like them to become—more important to the school than the task of education. With Simrell in charge, Toledo football was a pleasant diversion; now that Bohl has changed the rules, I am uneasy about the new emphasis placed on sports by the administration.
GERALD J. PIERSON
Department of History
University of Toledo
Looney's article on the firing of Dan Simrell says if Toledo had held Bowling Green with 20 seconds to go, it would have won the Mid-American Conference and gone to the California Bowl. Well, it didn't. Looney also talks of Simrell's record and of Toledo's finishing tied for second when it was picked to finish sixth, and how that was not enough to save his job—with good reason. Three years ago Toledo was picked for first and finished seventh. Simrell's record for the last three years was 15-17-1. That is not good enough.
Simrell is a nice guy, but he knew what was required of him this season and he did not meet the criteria. His dismissal is a far cry from college football at its worst, as Looney contends. Most of Toledo rallied behind a friend, and that speaks well for the city. It also appears that most of Toledo is afraid of change. It's a good thing that Al Bohl is not.
KEVIN L. DESMOND
•THE NFL'S STOP 10
I notice that Peter King's rankings of the Top 10 performances in the NFL in 1989 (Fight to the Finish, Dec. 25-Jam 1) were all from the NFC. Surely something happened in the AFC during the year to warrant a listing in the Top 10—the coaching of Marty Schottenheimer of the Chiefs, Chuck Noll of the Steelers and Don Shula of the Dolphins, to name three. And, of course, how can Steve Largent, who set the record for career touchdown receptions, be left off?
During the past 35 years, the Montreal Canadiens have won 16 Stanley Cups, including a record five in a row from 1956 to '60. Nevertheless, your 35th Anniversary Issue (Nov. 15) failed to include a photograph of Maurice (Rocket) Richard, Jean Bèliveau, Doug Harvey or any other member of this legendary team. Also no Guy Lafleur and no Ken Dryden from the teams that won four straight Stanley Cups from 1976 to 1979.
Every once in a while Americans need to be reminded that hockey does not begin and end with Wayne Gretzky.
IAN B. COPNICK
•Richard pours champagne into the Stanley Cup in 1957.
Letters to Sports Illustrated should include the name, address and home telephone number of the writer and should be addressed to The Editor, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Time & Life Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, N.Y. 10020-1393.