For months assistant managing editor Craig Neff (Colgate '79)
has found himself inhumed beneath a wall of papers, surveys
actually, 305 in all, as the steward of our Jock Schools issue.
In a covert and exhaustive operation, SI reporters unearthed
data for the seven-page surveys on every Division I men's
basketball school and then graded each one, as dutiful graduate
assistants might. "The reporters became passionate about this
piece," says Neff. "They couldn't wait to tell me that Cornell
hockey fans throw fish on the ice or that Western Carolina has
men's and women's intramural arm wrestling."
After Neff played the role of professor and assigned each school
its final grade, the real fun began. Staffers were dispatched,
mostly under cloak of darkness, to the campuses of our Top 20
schools. Reporter Kelvin Bias found it difficult to render an
unbiased account considering his assignment: Profile Arizona.
Bias, a former walk-on football player for the Wildcats who
keeps his Arizona helmet in his office but still awaits a
letterman jacket, was one of eight SI journalists sent to report
on their alma maters. "Dude, I could have written this in my
sleep," says staff writer Alan Shipnuck (UCLA '96), who
nevertheless revisited Westwood. Reporter Rich Deutsch (Texas
'92) happened upon a 12-hour sportsfest when he landed in
Austin. "If I'd known what Texas had to offer when I was there,"
he says, "I would have been on the 10-year plan." Staff writer
John Walters (Notre Dame '88) found the undertaking cathartic.
"I always knew I wasn't good enough to play football at ND,"
says Walters, whose office features a cap-and-gown photo of
himself and 1987 Heisman Trophy winner Tim Brown. "Now I know I
wasn't good enough to play women's intramural football."
A few reporters who worked on the project did distinguish
themselves on the friendly courts, fields, pools and tracks of
life. Bev Oden (Stanford '93), a member of the U.S. Olympic
volleyball team in Atlanta, led the Cardinal to the NCAA title
in 1992, two years after she had been voted national college
player of the year; Loren Mooney (Cornell '93) was a three-time
All-America middle-distance runner for the Big Red who was also
heralded in these pages when she was but an eighth-grader; Grace
Cornelius (Princeton '95), a three-time swim team MVP for the
Tigers, still holds nine national age-group records and competed
in two Olympic trials; and Grant Wahl (Princeton '96), who
covered Cornelius's aquatic exploits for The Daily Princetonian,
was also an Olympian--of sorts. "I ran in Princeton's Nude
Olympics one year and supervised it the next," says Wahl, making
him the Juan Antonio Samaranch of au naturel events.
Because the nature of the survey was hush-hush, our reporters
had to be evasive in their dealings with various sports
information and recreational sports directors. "Some were
suspicious," says Cornelius, "like the man from BYU who wondered
why I was asking if there were any good sports bars in Provo."
But no one had a tougher task than reporter Seth Davis (Duke
'92). Davis, who is not averse to the idea of naming his
firstborn Krzyzewski, was sent to profile North Carolina. "It
could have been worse," says Davis, still smarting from his
labors. "I could have attended North Carolina."
Yes, the passions ran deep on this one.
COLOR ILLUSTRATION: FRED HARPER [Drawing of boy looking at computer terminal and surrounded by university sports items]