Amarillo (Texas) Junior College has been startled to learn that a couple of young men to whom they awarded basketball scholarships are alumni of a Kentucky jail. Convicted of manslaughter, Stephen Varner, 21, has been on parole since October 1976. John H. Luster, 24, jailed for armed robbery, was paroled in August.
"There has been an obvious breakdown at Amarillo College that allowed such a thing to happen," said President Charles D. Lutz Jr. "We will correct it in the future." On the other hand. Dr. John E. Jones, chairman of the junior college's board of regents, simply pointed out that "these scholarships, as executed by the college, are valid and binding legal contracts," adding that the men were free to play on the school team as long as they maintained their scholastic eligibility.
Does President Lutz really feel that everyone would be better served if two men, properly paroled and obviously singled out for athletic scholarships on the basis of athletic gifts, were turned back into the streets? Says Varner, "I just want to look to the future. What's happened in the past, that's no one's business."
He would seem to have a point.
Russell and Riverwood, two high schools near Atlanta, played each other in football last month and both teams lost. For a minute, the final score was Russell 15, Riverwood 0. Then things began to unravel. First someone ratted on Russell's Chris McNeal, who had just transferred to the school. He had faked the residence requirement, so there went not just the victory over Riverwood, which Russell was obliged to forfeit, but the school's three previous wins, all of which were forfeited as well.
That still left a score of sorts, the 1-0 forfeit victory for Riverwood. But Riverwood's Joey Mitchell had been left off the eligibility list sent last spring to the Georgia High School Association by a former coach. When new Coach Theo Caldwall realized the omission, he reported it to the GHSA, but the association showed no mercy. They declared the school also a loser by forfeit, thereby making the game null and void, and stripped Riverwood of its single previous win, a 28-6 victory over Paulding County.
You can't win 'em all but, on the other hand, a man doesn't expect to unwin 'em all, either.
Last August an Oklahoma City girl attacked in court the rules by which girls' high school basketball is still played in Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas and Tennessee—three forwards on one side of the center line, three guards on the back side, no crossing over. The forwards do all the shooting; for guards, the game is tedious beyond words. But the Oklahoma girl's complaint was that it was more than just tedious. She argued that her position as guard precluded any chance of a college scholarship or a future professional career because both the colleges and pros play five-on-five on a full court. At the end of last month affidavits were presented in the matter, and the ACLU asked Federal Judge Ralph Thompson, who had previously ruled that he had no jurisdiction in the matter, to reconsider his decision.
Cathy Rush, coach of the 1976 Olympic women's basketball team, said that "little or no consideration was given to girls who had played half-court basketball when the Olympic team was picked." Jerry Zancanelli, coach of Colorado's team, said half-court ball "definitely puts the players behind in individual skills." Lark Birdsong, the women's coach at the University of Iowa, stated flatly, "I do not recruit guards, ever." Robert C. Serfass, associate professor of physical education at the University of Minnesota, said, "There are no psychological or medical data available which would preclude either sex from playing full-court basketball."
Finally, Sylvia Marks-Barnett, ACLU attorney, citing the absence of any "half-court" girls on the Olympic team, or on the 1975 Pan-American team, said that she didn't expect Judge Thompson to reverse his ruling because of these affidavits. "The main thing I wanted," she said, "was to get them in the record for the appeal."
It sounded like a great idea. The White House has too many squirrels, while the squirrel population of Wrightwood, Calif. has been decimated by a tick infestation. The answer seemed obvious, so Congressman James Lloyd (D. Calif.) announced that he was going to have a bunch of the White House squirrels transferred to Wrightwood.
But the operation fell through. "The repopulation of the Wrightwood area will have to be done with friendly native squirrels," Lloyd says—because the California State Department of Health has reported that the D.C. squirrels are too aggressive.
Gambler Frank (Lefty) Rosenthal is the host of a new TV talk show, taped in Las Vegas' Stardust Casino at 7:30 p.m. on Saturdays and revealed to the rest of Las Vegas at 11. On the show's opening night several weeks ago, among those present was Frank Sinatra. Sinatra held forth on a subject dear to his heart, the harshness of the punishment laid on UNLV Basketball Coach Jerry Tarkanian (SCORECARD, Sept. 19) and urged the citizenry of Las Vegas to start a petition to the NCAA.
Last Saturday Rosenthal got into his plan to have his guest pick the winners of half a dozen of Sunday's pro football games, and Sinatra again led off. These were his choices:
San Diego +3 over Kansas City; Dallas—13½ over New York; Chicago +3 over St. Louis; Pittsburgh +2 over Oakland; Los Angeles—10 over Philadelphia; Miami—3½ over San Francisco.
The results were San Diego 23, Kansas City 7; Dallas 41, New York 21; St. Louis 16, Chicago 13; Oakland 16, Pittsburgh 7; Los Angeles 20, Philadelphia 0; Miami 19, San Francisco 15. This gave Sinatra four wins, a loss and a push. Making 65% against the spread is considered very good indeed; doing it his way was 15% better.
BLUES ON THE GREENS
The Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation Department is distressed. "People can walk onto some of our golf courses at 10 or 11 on a Saturday or Sunday morning and tee off," says Phil Jackson, director of golf for the county. "With no reservations, they used to have at least a two-hour wait."
A recent survey requested by department supervisor Kenneth Hahn determined that play on 10 of the county's 18 public courses had dropped by as much as 79,556 rounds in the first seven months of 1977 as compared to the same period in 1976, a decrease of 13.42%. The courses in question are in top shape, not badly affected by the drought. They are multimillion-dollar facilities, with concessionaires suffering proportional decreases in revenue, and the department is baffled. "We don't know why play is down," says Jim Okimoto, head of budget and management services. "We don't know whether golfers have transferred to tennis, racquetball or some other recreation or what."
One possible answer seemed to lie in the county's increase in greens fees; on Oct. 1 last year they went up a dollar a round. But Okimoto points out that course use was already down 7.9% before the hike. That may have accelerated the falloff, but is inadequate to explain it.
Not wanting to miss out on a possible national trend, SI checked around the U.S. Was play off precipitously in, for example, Dallas? In Baltimore? In Columbus, Ohio? Overland Park, Kans.? No, it turned out, Play was up.
So the defections, if any, are pretty much a Southern California phenomenon. Either that or golfers have been sneaking out of the state to play in Dallas, Baltimore, Columbus, Ohio and Overland Park, Kans.
Tickets go on sale throughout the Northwest this week for the first annual Kingbowl. This is the brainchild of Seattle promoter Michael Campbell, whose answer to the mud, rain and wind that ordinarily attend the Washington State high school football championships was to propose that all four games be played on a single Saturday in Seattle's Kingdome. The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association went for it, and the schedule for Saturday, Dec. 3, is as follows:
B championship game 10 a.m.
A championship game 1 p.m.
AA championship game 4 p.m.
Pregame show 7 p.m.
AAA championship game 8 p.m.
"In addition to the four football games that will be played in the Kingbowl," advises a news release, "the WIAA has reserved the Kingdome for Friday night. Dec. 2." Hank Rybus, WIAA general secretary, says, "I'm in the education business and...in tune with this philosophy the event will feature...the first high school marching-band competition attracting schools from across the state."
If all this is not enough, you may be able to attend Michael Campbell's clinic for aspiring sportswriters, which he hopes to stage in the Kingdome before the marching-band contest. Shouldn't have any problem keeping the typewriters dry.
Golfer Andy North's sister Pamela has married. Her new name is Pamela South.
John Steadman, sports editor of the Baltimore News American, has seen every game the Baltimore Colts have played, home and away. The streak goes back to 1950, when, as he puts it, "There just wasn't anyone in Yankee Stadium when the Colts and New York drew a crowd of 5,000."
Steadman has visited "such interesting points of call as Lubbock, Texas, Lincoln, Neb., Rochester, N.Y. and, of course, Shreveport, La., on the exhibition circuit." As for the less interesting spots he has found himself in, he says, "Can you imagine spending a week between games in Egg Harbor, Wis.? It might sound good, but it isn't."
There were, inevitably, conflicts. For example, the Colts were playing the Chicago Bears on the same day that the Orioles were playing the Dodgers in the final game of the 1966 World Series. So, Steadman says, in addition to the regular reporters assigned to the final Series game, "We had our wife and brother cover it for us by doing leg work, and we wrote the story. Ironically, a journalism-judging committee said it was the best piece of literature written on the World Series that year, but we told them we didn't want the award, because just imagine how much better it might have been if we had been there!"
Steadman says that keeping the streak going is easier these days, because travel is easier, but he refuses to speculate on how long it will last, or even to figure out how many games he has seen and how many miles he has traveled. "I'm Irish and I'm superstitious," he says, "and I don't like to be reminded of things before they really happen."
While Steadman thus keeps his mind carefully off the matter, SI has done some research and has calculated that last Sunday's Colt game was Steadman's 496th in a row. Of that number 332 were regular-season, 146 preseason and 16 postseason. The Colts' overall record is 280 wins, 206 losses and 10 ties. Steadman's record, of course, is 496 to 0.
THEY SAID IT
•Fred Casoti, Colorado University's assistant athletic director, asked if the football team joins in pregame prayer: "No, we've got so many things to pray for we'd get penalized 15 yards for delaying the start of the game."
•Ted Manly, Virginia's freshman quarterback, after the Cavaliers suffered the second worst defeat in their history, 68-0, at the hands of Texas: "Really, Texas wasn't as good as I thought they'd be."
•Gordon Beard, sportswriter for the Associated Press, on Brooks Robinson: "Brooks never asked anyone to name a candy bar after him. In Baltimore, people name their children after him."