TALL MEN, TALL PRICES
Less than 24 hours after Jack Dolph, American Basketball Association commissioner, had announced that his league would once again hold an early "secret" draft of top college players, the selections were made in Greensboro, N.C., where the ABA was putting on its All-Star Game. As usual, the secret choices were immediately leaked.
More interesting than the ABA draft choices was the list of players the league did not draft in the first round. Among the omissions: Notre Dame's Austin Carr, UCLA's Sidney Wicks, South Carolina's John Roche, Marquette's Dean Meminger and others who would have been among the highest choices if the ABA and the National Basketball Association were not in a talent war. The omissions, indeed, implied which college stars have already indicated a preference for the NBA. Most of them, most likely, are already under contract to the NBA—just as many of the players picked in early rounds by the ABA have already signed with the younger league.
A typical case is Villanova's Howard Porter, a 6'8" frontcourt man who probably would have been a second-round choice in normal years. Porter was first choice of the Pittsburgh Condors—and the third player chosen in the whole draft—mainly because he signed a $350,000, three-year contract with the ABA on Dec. 16.
Since the contracts are technically personal service, not playing agreements with the leagues, and also in good part because they are kept secret, some players may have been led, mistakenly, to think that there was no violation of their present amateur status. The same players will sign actual playing contracts after the close of the college season.
Under these conditions it was not surprising that Porter ended up ahead of Gilmore in the draft. After the league signs the college players, the contracts are then made available to the teams that can pay the tabs—and for whom the individual players are willing to perform. Porter's $350,000 price tag was within reach of ailing Pittsburgh, but it was not until after eight choices had been made that one of the successful ABA teams, Kentucky, came up with the resources to meet Gilmore's price, which is understood to be in excess of $2 million.
THE REAL WINNER
When Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier split $5 million on the day after their confrontation in Madison Square Garden, the real fight will begin. Opponent: the Internal Revenue Service. At issue: how much of their $2.5 million apiece the fighters will be permitted to keep under the income-tax laws.
It's quite a bit more than it would have been before Dwight D. Eisenhower wrote a book and the law was changed to acknowledge that a bonanza is a special form of income. There are several options open to the two fighters, depending on how they file their income report and how they elect to pay tax on it.
Under an "income averaging" provision, if their income for 1971 exceeds by 30% their average income of the preceding four years, they can spread it over the past five years. To the joy of accountants and tax lawyers, there are more than 20 methods of filing under this provision of averaging, and a lot of technical IRS gobbledygook is involved. But the size of the purses makes it quite clear that both fighters will have a most unusual year and surely will exceed by 30% their average of the past four.
Frazier is incorporated and so could file differently from Ali. On the other hand, Ali could incorporate by fight time. Of course, they could elect the least complicated procedure and simply treat the income as current, paying taxes on it as a lump sum for the year 1971. "We'd be happy for them to do that," an IRS spokesman said, licking his lips.
JUST FOR THE FUN OF IT
A rising tide of pure amateurism may be about to engulf college sport—or at least wash at its shores. A dozen New England and New York colleges have formed a new intercollegiate football league eschewing athletic scholarships and dedicated to the belief that club football is better than the varsity type.
To be governed by the rules of the National Club Football Association, the Eastern Collegiate Club Football Conference comprises a Colonial Division (Providence, Stonehill, Hartford, Assumption, St. Michael's and Western New England) and a Hudson Division (Fairfield, New Haven, Marist, Iona, Norwalk Community and Westchester). Schedules are being arranged to give each team five league games. Then, for the top teams, a playoff round will determine the champion.
Stonehill is typical. Its uniforms and equipment are paid for by the student body. Its coach is a volunteer, Dave Knight, formerly a defensive coach for a minor league professional team. There is a student trainer. The team doctor donates his services. Competent volunteer officials are scarce, though, and are Stonehill's biggest expense.
Some of the schools have stadiums. The others make do with borrowed high school fields and never will make enough money to build stadiums of their own. Or compete for high school stars with scholarships.
Theoretically, a high schooler who wins a college athletic scholarship for proficiency in a particular sport might be expected to continue in that discipline.
It is not necessarily so at the University of Cincinnati, especially when an athlete is recruited for basketball. Tony Trabert came to Cincinnati on a basketball scholarship and, while he did play varsity basketball, he became much better known as a tennis player. Then there was Sandy Koufax, to whom Cincinnati awarded a basketball-baseball scholarship, though he was considered to be primarily a basketball player. You know what happened to him.
Latest Cincinnati basketball recruit to jump the fence is Jim O'Brien, whose field goal won the Super Bowl for the Baltimore Colts and thereby made him an instant hero in an otherwise heroless game. As a senior at Aiken High School, O'Brien was third leading basketball scorer in Cincinnati prep circles, then headed off to the Air Force Academy with the intention of playing basketball. Later, after a medical discharge, he turned up at UC on a partial basketball scholarship, played some in his first year at Cincinnati and that was all.
O'Brien is a fair tennis player, too.
Driving along a road near the University of Maine at Machias, student John Turner spied a large bobcat crossing the road. Since a bobcat is worth a $15 bounty in Maine, Turner got out of his car and chased the cat until it treed. It was then he realized that he had no rifle.
Hoping another car would come by, Turner waited. None came. So Turner solved the problem. He took off his hat and coat and dressed a small tree so that it resembled a man. Then he drove to a friend's house and borrowed a gun. Hastening back, he found the bobcat still treed, glaring balefully at the hat and coat.
Turner got his bounty, and earned it.
SKIP THE DANISH
The M.C. was Curt Gowdy, and the speakers included Ted Williams and Bing Crosby. The occasion at New York's Waldorf-Astoria last week was not another midwinter sports dinner, but a concerned gathering of the Committee on the Atlantic Salmon Emergency.
CASE is out to stop Danish commercial fishermen from taking Atlantic salmon feeding at sea off west Greenland. Every salmon country in the world, including the U.S., takes the position that high-seas fishing for salmon cannot be justified because the catch cannot be regulated to protect home rivers. The Danes have gone on fishing.
Now CASE has drawn up a timetable to make the Danes listen. CASE is considering a formal boycott of Danish goods if the Danes don't agree to stop at an international meeting this May. CASE is taking ads in trade magazines to warn importers of the possible boycott. "We have no desire to see the American businessman with unsold goods on his shelves," said Bramwell Fletcher, who delivered the timetable. "So we give adequate advance notice. We'll go next to the supermarket magazines and finally to Danish newspapers." (In Congress, Representative Thomas Pelly of Washington is reintroducing a bill that calls for a ban on the importation of any food product from any country hurting the conservation of North American Atlantic salmon.)
In a way, the boycott already has begun. Ted Williams told the dinner guests he was shopping the other day when he picked up a canned ham. It was labeled IMPORTED FROM DENMARK. Said Williams: "I dropped it like a hot potato."
CREDIT WHERE DUE
Tom Dempsey, the New Orleans Saints' placekicker, is still getting recognition for his 63-yard field goal. The Dallas Bonehead Club presented him with its Bonehead of the Year trophy last week in commemoration of the feat. The kick beat Detroit, all right, but the victory also booted the Saints out of a shot at pro football's No. 1 draft pick. The Saints thus became only the second worst team in the National Football League, behind Boston.
TIPS FROM THE TOP
The Impington (England) Village College of Further Education, which is near Cambridge University but not much like it, has started a seven-week course on beating the races. About 40 students are in rapt attendance, learning how to judge such matters as breeding and conformation, the odds and jockeys. First lecture, on breeding and form, was given by Geoffrey Sale, editor of the book Hunters, Chasers and Point-to-Pointers.
Advertisements for the course were posted in betting shops in and around Cambridge, but it has attracted students from as far as 40 miles away.
Scholars are awaiting climactic lectures by representatives of Tote Investors, Ltd. and Ladbroke's, two prominent bookmaking houses, whose representatives, presumably, will tell the class how to beat the bookies.
California's duck-hunting season was drawing to a close, the state legislature was in session and Assemblyman Robert E. Badham was itching to get in one last fling at the sport he loves best.
But the Assembly has a rule that an excuse must be given to play hooky from a legislative session, or else $30 per diem is forfeited. So Badham wrote his excuse:
My Dear Mr. Speaker—
I hereby request that I be excused on legislative business today as I will be away from the Capitol with a group of conservationists conducting an ecological tour of the northeast quadrant of the San Joaquin Valley assessing habitat and feeding conditions of migratory waterfowl.
Robert E. Badham, Assemblyman,
Speaker Bob Moretti, no duck huntter, approved the excuse. Assemblyman Badham got his limit.
THEY SAID IT
•Alex Karras at the Super Bowl, appalled when Baltimore failed to go for a field goal in the first half, contemplating the situation after Nowatzke's second-half touchdown: "I wonder if they'll try for the extra point."
•Helenio Herrera, Italian soccer coach, reacting to an observation that his annual income ($240,000) is 10 times that of a government minister: "In modern society one earns what one is worth."
•Liz Brewer, blonde English beauty, on a report that she will marry Lord William Compton, younger son of the Marquess of Northampton: "We're only getting engaged if he learns to play Scrabble properly."
•Lew Alcindor, discussing two of his favorite opponents in Baltimore: "Wes Unseld is very physical, but that Gus Johnson could get a job as a hockey puck."