Until now nobody has wanted to talk publicly about it, but college athletics are in serious financial straits. For several years the principal subject at virtually every meeting of athletic directors has been the inflation of costs, much of which relates to football. Though football itself is not losing money, it is no longer turning over the necessary profits that enable major-college sports programs to operate on their required breakeven basis.
The budget statistics are frightening. In the Big Ten six schools reportedly are operating at a loss. At Michigan the intercollegiate athletic budget has risen from $1.5 million to $2.2 million in just two years. At Kansas the budget is up from $850,000 four years ago to $1.4 million today.
Last Monday the Big Ten met in Chicago to consider what might be done. There are no easy solutions, for college football's income is probably close to its maximum. "We could play an 11-game schedule," says Fritz Crisler, Michigan's athletic director, "but this would be out of step with the general educational philosophy of the schools, for it would require games when students are not yet at school. Ticket prices might be raised and money to run athletics might be requested from other university funds, but neither of these moves is desirable."
May 12, 1968
Some conferences are considering the abolition of all athletic scholarships except in football and basketball, which are the income-producing sports. If a further step is needed, all minor college sports might have to be put on a club basis and left to fend for themselves.
To help with the problem the NCAA might make freshmen eligible for varsity football and basketball competition, thus getting an extra year of use out of the subsidized athlete.
The solution that almost everybody is attempting to avoid is the painful but obvious one: slashing of college football costs by going back to one-platoon football, cutting the size of coaching staffs and decreasing the number of scholarships, taking the plush out of the athletic dorms and the steaks off the training tables. It sounds like heresy, but in lean times it also sounds like common sense.
Rarely has a help-wanted ad been bigger or attracted more attention. In a 9-by-14-inch display in The New York Times, the country of Tanzania announced it was looking for a man between 35 and 40 "longing to do something worthwhile with his life" to serve as assistant to the director of its national parks. Applicants were advised to have proven administrative ability in a business, academic, financial, legal or governmental career, a sophisticated, friendly and mature personality, a genuinely liberal outlook, some independent means because the salary is modest, and the ability to fly—or learn to fly—a light plane. "This job is not for an escapist," says John Owen, Tanzania's Director of National Parks and the man who needs the assistance.
The ad drew 60 applications in the first three days after it appeared, as well as a New York Times editorial applauding Conservationist Owen and the Tanzania government for its own efforts to do "something worthwhile."
NOT SITTING PRETTY
The battle over Rick Barry, the onetime Warrior superstar who signed with Oakland in the American Basketball Association, is apparently far from over. San Francisco Owner Frank Mieuli now says that Barry cannot play for the Oaks next season because he sat out his option, he did not play it out. When Barry testified at a court hearing last year he said he had always considered NBA contracts like National Football League contracts, that is, a player signed for a year, with a year option. The interpretation of the NFL rule, Mieuli contends, is that the athlete must actually render service for that year, that he cannot simply absent himself from competition as Barry did last season. Mieuli says he will take the issue to court.
What Mieuli really wants, of course, is Pat Boone's Oakland team out of his hair, but those hopes got jolted last week when the ABA team signed Alex Hannum, the ex-Warrior and 76er coach, to an eight-year contract. The Hannum hiring means Oakland is digging in for a long fight. Lots of the brawling will be in court.
LOST HIS MARBLES
The major league sport on the streets of the Bangu quarter of Rio de Janeiro is marbles, and a 17-year-old, Luís Roberto Costa, is the champion. Luís' career began when a neighbor called Luís over to baby-sit. During the afternoon he became intrigued by a game of marbles going on outside the window and he called to a small boy in the game, "Do you want me to swallow a marble?" Luís took one and placed it in his mouth. The child was not convinced and, suspecting that Luís had hidden it under his tongue, the boy reached up to fish for it. Seeing no honorable way out, Luís swallowed the marble.
His sporting feat was a huge success. Other children came to the window, and marbles of all colors and sizes began to appear, some of them very beautiful and worth five ordinary ones on the marble players' market. Luís gulped them down.
The news spread, drawing marble players from other streets. Soon they were chanting 16...17...18...as Luís' prowess increased. Finishing off the stock of marbles on the Rua Américo Jacobino, Luís and his followers moved on to another street. A new crowd gathered, and the marble swallowing continued. For six hours he demonstrated the phenomenon. But then, his stomach feeling heavy, he began to have doubts about his achievement. At a small restaurant he asked for a glass of water, and when one of the customers learned what had happened, Luís was rushed to a hospital. He said he had swallowed 38 marbles. But the marbles were retrieved by doctors, and Luís suffered no ill effects.
Now a neighborhood celebrity, Luís decided a few days later to break his own record. For a while he thought he could reach 100, but he quit after 50 and went back to the hospital. X rays confirmed his count, and were reproduced on Page One of a Rio newspaper. It was agreed on the Rua Américo Jacobino that there had never been a marble player like Luís.
Notre Dame ended a tradition last week when it announced that its spring-football practice season would not be climaxed by a game against the alumni. Though the varsity-alumni game goes back to 1929, Knute Rockne's day, and was nationally televised last year, it has not been much of a contest lately. Pro football teams have been 10th to let their high-priced talent play for free for Ara Parseghian—and perhaps get hurt in the process. Other alumni, serving with military units, cannot get back to South Bend. Parseghian says the oldtimers were only putting in token appearances in recent games anyway, and the lopsided competition that resulted did not test or condition the Irish. This year's spring practice will end with an intrasquad game instead. Football people who have seen the Irish personnel this year suggest it may be a contest between the country's No. 1 and No. 2 teams.
In about half their games the Baltimore Orioles have been using Outfielder Curt Blefary as catcher, figuring, perhaps, that Andy Etchebarren, who hit a deathly .215 last season, would have to be replaced. Harassing catchers—those wearers of the "tools of ignorance"—is part of baseball's ritual anyway, and some of Etchebarren's bullpen friends decided they would try to shake up sad Andy. On several occasions during the recent Yankee series Pitchers Moe Drabowsky and Pete Richert were seen hammering nails into a piece of wood near the bullpen. Every time Blefary would get a hit, they would drive in another nail, look over at Etchebarren and declare loudly, "Andy, you're dead. We're building your coffin."
Last Thursday when Etchebarren reported for work, he found a spray of lilies hanging on his locker. The note attached read: "Sorry to hear you died." That did it.
Etchebarren played that night and went 3 for 3, hitting a home run, a double and a single. But Andy's biggest laugh came the following morning when the Associated Press published its list of the top 10 hitters in the American League. The list, at present, includes players with 30 or more at bats. By playing in the game the night before, Etchebarren had qualified by having 31 at bats, and his three hits had raised his average from .321 to .387, which made him the league's leading hitter.
Britain's hard-fished trout rivers are regularly restocked with young fish that have been raised in ponds and fed a daily diet of dried pellets. Recently a dry fly, Terry's Terror, which is made of peacock feathers and goat hair, has become very popular on English trout streams. It is a fine representation of a feed pellet.
When compared to the increasingly strident, radical temper of the times, Muhammad Ali is appearing more and more moderate. There are indications he stayed away from the Ellis-Quarry fight to help keep the peace. He made a speech in the San Francisco area three or four hours before the fight and he could easily have gone to Oakland that evening. Before the bout he declared, "America needs a good white boy as champion. That's why boxing is dead. A white man is good for boxing. It's better for the sport to have all colors, it draws more."
Ali has been telling audiences, "I'm not here to condemn Vietnam. I'd take some of the $80 million a day we are spending over there and I'd get a whole lot of land and I'd build a whole lot of houses for people who need them."
While he is still an advocate of separatism, he is preaching nonviolence. He points out that the Muslims were not involved in the recent riots. This week he is scheduled to speak at three Chicago public schools. The talks have been arranged by the Better Boys Foundation.
Meanwhile, the Government is apparently reluctant to prosecute Ali. It has made no significant move in the case since February.
START OF A CAMPAIGN
The president of the French Olympic Committee, Jean de Beaumont, declared last week in Paris: "If Avery Brundage runs again at Mexico City and is reelected president of the International Olympic Committee, it will be a serious mistake, a challenge to common sense and to the youth of the world because he will be 85 years old when the 1972 Munich Games are held. Athletes don't deserve to be led by so old a man. He acts like a dictator. He finds it inadmissible that you don't agree with him.
"The IOC is in a delicate position. If a certain number of serious individuals were to urge me to seek the presidency of the Olympic movement at the October election in Mexico, I could only accept, even if, in the event that I would be elected president, I found myself obliged to neglect my personal affairs in order to devote myself entirely to the great mission entrusted to me."
We'll remember that, Jean.
THEY SAID IT
•Jim Bouton, Yankee pitcher, on the dull Ellis-Quarry fight: "The way I'm pitching, I can't comment."
•Ken Macker, U.S. soccer official, on problems that followed the merger of the two American leagues: "We found we had 210 players barred for various reasons by the World Soccer Federation. We had players who were acquired from clubs that didn't exist. Others had been purchased from clubs that didn't actually own their contracts. All I can say is that I hope that guy who bought London Bridge really gets it. I kind of thought we had bought it a couple of times."
•Early Wynn, pitching coach for the Twins, on the attempts of a New York woman to get a job umpiring in the major leagues: "What would they do with the chest protectors? Rebuild them all?"