The NCAA pulled a dandy last week in Los Angeles at its annual convention. After years of trying to protect student-athletes from the high-pressure college coach, it went off on a naked reverse in exactly the opposite direction. By a vote of 167-79 (and why were only 246 votes cast on this vital bit of legislation?), the NCAA decided to let its 610 member colleges "...terminate the financial aid of a student-athlete if he is adjudged to have been guilty of manifest disobedience through violation of institutional regulations or established athletic department policies and rules applicable to all student-athletes."
The legislation obviously was aimed at athletes who join illegal campus protests, which in itself has some pretty hairy implications, but the phrase we are interested in right now is "established athletic department policies." All that means, in too many cases, is the coach's policies Under this new regulation, an opportunistic coach can assume extraordinary control over his players. A boy is no longer a student athlete—he is an athlete, plain and simple. Will he break a rule if he misses a session on the basketball court to study for an exam? Ask Coach Fastbreak. Can he skip spring football practice and go out for baseball instead? Don't be silly. If a coach, down on a player, decides that a boy's "attitude" is bad, bingo, there goes his scholarship. Suppose a coach realizes that he made a recruiting mistake and has wasted one of his valuable scholarships on a high school prospect who turns into a lemon in college (and you should have heard the Southeastern Conference football coaches moan at the NCAA meeting because they had only 40 scholarships a year to give away, compared to 45 and 50 in other conferences). How does Coach Bowl bound get that wasted scholarship back into productive operation? Guess which high school hero somehow, somewhere, violates a rule and loses his free ride.
Walter Byers, the NCAA's executive director, was asked whether he thought some coaches might use the new regulation to further their own interests. Despite years of handling cases in which colleges have been fined and suspended for coachly violations of NCAA rules, Byers answered, "Oh, that's a lot of hog-wash. There are no such coaches."
A somewhat different situation exists in college athletics in Canada. Terry Harron, a center on McGill University's hockey team, is a fourth-year engineering student. In the course of his studies he combined a number of theories and came up with a workable digital filter that screens out unwanted sounds. We are not quite sure what that is, but it is original enough to warrant Harron's taking out a patent on it. To prepare the necessary papers for processing the patent, Terry took a month off from hockey in the middle of the season. No sweat Brian Gilmour, the McGill hockey coach, says, "This is an academic institution, and these things happen. You just have to get used to it."
CURSE YOU, MAURICE RICHARD
The latest sport Charlie Schulz has been pushing in Peanuts is ice skating (Snoopy recently revealed that he and Peggy Fleming used to skate together "quite often...until I became big-time.") Schulz's interest, of course, is personal. In Northern California, where they live, he and his wife used to skate at a small rink in Santa Rosa, not far from their home in Sebastopol, until one day the roof began to collapse. Now Schulz is building his own rink in Santa Rosa, a fairly elaborate affair that will be able to seat 1,800 spectators for ice hockey and figure skating.
"We want to promote hockey among the kids," Schulz says, "and figure skating, too." Originally the rink was to cost about $250,000, but current estimates indicate that it will go beyond $1 million before it is finished. Schulz says, "We sent a photographer to Switzerland to take pictures of villages and mountains. We'll run murals along one side of the rink and have three or four Swiss houses on the other side. In one section we'll have some stained-glass windows of Snoopy skating. Upstairs, we plan to have an exhibition room for art exhibits and other shows. And we'll also have a restaurant called The Warm Puppy."
Why all this, Charlie?
Says Schulz, who was born in Minnesota, "I always wanted to be a hockey player."
A RACE TO GET YOUR TEETH INTO
The Daily Racing Form chart of the fourth race at Tropical Park on Jan. 8 reads: "Hans II ran over an alligator on the course while saving ground at the first turn, split horses to take over leaving the far turn and, after dropping over, drew off with authority."
Damn right he split horses and drew off with authority. Wouldn't you, if you had almost stepped on an alligator? And has anybody asked the stewards whether an alligator on the course is considered a stimulant?
What happened at Tropical was that an alligator that had found its way into the vast infield decided to crawl back across the track just as the field in the fourth race came barreling along. An Alligator Stakes had been run earlier in the meeting, as track wits were quick to point out, but Jockey Bob Wholey, who was up on Hans II, was not in the mood for lighthearted quips when he was interviewed after the race.
"My horse and I didn't see the gator until the last moment," he explained, "not until the other horses had passed over him. He was thrashing around and trying to bite us. My mount jumped clear over him and all I could think of was, if I fall, I better land on my feet and start running."
If he had, it would have been an even more fascinating race, because Wholey would have been 1 to 10 to beat Hans II to the wire.
Arnold Palmer shot a 72 on the first round of the Los Angeles Open (nine behind Charlie Sifford's leading 63), but it was nonetheless a significant round for Arnie. His 70th stroke of the day, a pitching wedge to the green on the 18th, was his 100,000th stroke as a professional on the tour. His overall tour earnings to that point were $1,165,565. That means Arnie picked up an average of about $800 for every round he played, almost $50 for every hole and precisely $11.65½ for each stroke.
John Chandler, a Republican member of the New Hampshire state legislature, has introduced a bill that would require all adult males of sound mind and with no criminal record to have and keep in working order "one firearm and 500 rounds of ammunition." The penalty for not owning a gun would be $100, six months in jail or both. Also, every seven-day period of gun nonownership would constitute a new offense.
Chandler has never owned a gun and does not hunt. He introduced the bill, he said, "because I thought it made good sense that the citizenry be armed. It should have the means to protect itself at all times because there can be moments when the police just can't get there in time to handle the situation."
Schools and colleges having trouble raising money for sports facilities might be interested to know that Harvard, richest of American universities, has erected a vinyl-coated nylon bubble to give its indoor track and field squad a place to train.
The bubble, which cost only $300,000, compared to the $2 or $3 million a permanent facility would run, rises 60 feet in the air, covers an area 300 feet long and 150 feet wide and encloses an 11-lap track. It has a see-through dome so that the bubble can be used in the daytime without artificial light, and it also has 36 1,000-watt lamps for night track events. There are seats for 400 spectators. The bubble was inflated right after the Harvard-Yale game and will remain up until June, when it will be folded away for the summer. In the fall, as football wanes, it will be pumped up again.
"It gives us the best indoor facility in the East, if not in the country," says Harvard track Coach Bill McCurdy. "People can look at this and realize that there are solutions other than a permanent building."
We have plastic fieldhouses and Tartan tracks and AstroTurf fields and plenty more where they came from. Now we have make-believe weeds. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has installed weedbeds made of plastic Ole-fern in Trout Lake and Lake 17 (and doesn't that last one have a romantic ring to it?). Hundreds of slender artificial fronds float upward from wooden frames set 6 to 12 feet deep. The experiment is designed to learn whether such devices are superior to the log cribs that are ordinarily used for fish cover.
If Wisconsin wants to make the habitat completely natural for the fish, it will see to it that a couple of dozen plastic beer cans nestle at the base of the fronds.
TELL ME TRUE
Like most members of his profession, Lou Henson, basketball coach at New Mexico State, is given to heaping praise on his opponents and having abject misgivings about forthcoming games. This season, even after his Aggies had won their first 11 games, Henson blandly predicted that his poor little team would lose nine of the 15 games remaining on the schedule.
A listener protested.
"I mean it," Henson said. "Honestly, You could give me a lie-detector test."
So they did. The local police chief brought a polygraph to the weekly boosters' club lunch and 250 truth seekers gathered to watch as Henson was wired up.
"Is Arizona State [the next opponent] really tough enough to beat your team?"
"Yes," said Henson.
"Lie," said the machine.
"Your team is in the top 10 in both wire-service polls. Do you think it should rate that high?"
"No," said Henson modestly.
"Lie," said the machine.
"Do you tell the truth here at these luncheons each Monday when you build up the opposition?"
"Oh, yes," said Henson.
"Oh, no," said the machine.
And who was right, Henson or the machine? Well, New Mexico State walloped Arizona State 85-69, and at last report had extended its winning streak to 14 straight. Don't mess around with a polygraph.
It was a good week for the forces of the law in New Mexico. There, as elsewhere in the country, stereo-tape players have moved ahead of hub caps, so far as thieves who prey upon cars are concerned. There is a large market for them—no questions asked—and they are easy to steal, unless you happen to take one from the car of a girl track star. In Albuquerque, a thief made just this mistake and was spotted by Jane Powdrell, who majors in physical education at New Mexico Highlands University. Instead of calling for help, Jane ran after the crook, caught him in the next block and held him against a wall until friends brought the police.
"She's run track ever since she was old enough to enter meets," Jane's mother said proudly, "and she never came home from a meet without a medal."
THEY SAID IT
•Dave Foley, Ohio State co-captain, explaining Coach Woody Hayes' all-work, no-play planning that led to the resounding Rose Bowl triumph: "The coach told us he was taking us to this secluded hotel and that we weren't in Pasadena for a good time. When I saw the folks in the hotel lobby playing dominoes, I knew we were in the right place."
•Al Oerter, four-time Olympic discus champion, on the possibilities for discus throwers in professional track and field: "The only way we could make it would be if Jay Silvester and I threw at each other and had to keep throwing until one of us got hit. Then maybe we'd draw 10 people."