The AAU domination of amateur athletics in the U.S., which began to crumble two weeks ago with the defection of track and field coaches and athletes (SI, Sept. 25), may have come to an end in almost all sports as a result of an informal meeting in Chicago last week.
The dissident basketball groups of this country, locked in a struggle with the AAU for control of that sport on the international level, blueprinted for representatives of the National Collegiate Track Coaches Association, the College Swimming Coaches Association of America, the American Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association, the National Gymnastics Coaches Association and the Judo Black Belt Federation their procedure in breaking away from AAU control. Although a poll of the track coaches is far from complete, early returns show an almost unanimous vote in favor of the formation of a track and field organization that would resemble in structure and operation the one set up for basketball.
On hand in Chicago to lend powerful support was the National Collegiate Athletic Association, represented at the meeting by its executive director, Walter Byers, and by Wilbur Johns, athletic director at UCLA and chairman of a special NCAA committee to encourage new controlling bodies in all sports.
The disenchantment of the basketball group with the AAU was crystallized in 1960, when a Swedish basketball team came to this country without AAU sanction and was prevented from playing here by AAU officials. At the March 1960 meeting of the National Association of Basketball Coaches a resolution was adopted recommending the divorce of college basketball from the AAU. This resolution went to the NCAA executive council, whose support was immediate.
The NCAA's 40-year-old National Basketball Committee of the U.S. was then joined by the National Federation of State High School Athletic Associations and the YMCA. Through John Bunn, basketball coach at Colorado State and chairman of the committee, this group requested the executive committee of the AAU to recognize it as the governing body of basketball in the U.S. When the AAU did not do so the NBC petitioned the FIBA, the international body, for recognition. The FIBA appointed Lou Wilke, an AAU basketball vice-chairman, to convene a meeting of interested parties to decide upon a governing body in the U.S. The meeting was held last Monday in Chicago following the earlier "six-sports" meeting.
"I waited for six months for Wilke to contact me," Bunn said Sunday. "He never did. He went around talking to individuals and to other groups, but he never talked to the NBC."
"I guess I was guilty of procrastination," said the harried Wilke. "But when I get all these proposals before me—from the NBC and the AAU and any other interested people—I'll present them to the FIBA, and then they can do what they want. If necessary, they can send a committee over here to investigate."
But why investigate?
"It is entirely unnecessary to send a committee," Bunn retorted. "Even without the AAU the basketball federation represents 95% of the activity in the sport in the U.S. I do not see how the international group can fail to recognize us as the governing body."
"When a Peruvian basketball team contacted college basketball coaches in this country to arrange a tour before they had been sanctioned by the AAU, I told the coaches to go ahead and play them," the NCAA's Byers told the delegates from the other sports. "If, as a result of playing a team not sanctioned by the AAU the college athletes were suspended by the AAU, I pointed out that we do not recognize the AAU's suspension. If the NCAA ignores AAU's sanction and suspensions, the power of the AAU will be dissipated rapidly."
"You can't be a governing body with nothing to govern," said Bunn at last week's meeting. "And the AAU is rapidly losing subjects to govern."