To call Kansas State the pits in college football would be an understatement. Last season the Wildcats were 1-10, making their alltime record 271-417-38, the worst of any major college. In addition, 21 freshmen players staged a brief boycott last fall, complaining they weren't getting enough playing time, two varsity players were accused and later convicted of raping a coed in the athletic dorm, and with two games remaining, Coach Ellis Rainsberger resigned under pressure after some players were deliberately misidentified in a junior-varsity game in an effort to preserve their redshirt status.
Jim Dickey, an assistant at North Carolina, took the K-State job last December. "I'm lucky," he said. "I really believe that. I believe good things are going to happen to me."
Dickey should be so lucky. Last week the Big Eight placed the Wildcats' football program on conditional probation for exceeding the 30 scholarship limit by 13 last year. It turns out that President Duane Acker of K-State knew of this irregularity last December, when, after conferring with other university officials, he decided to atone by cutting back to only 17 scholarships this year, and informed the conference of this act of contrition. Moreover, Dickey was told of these developments when he took the job, although public announcement of the scholarship shenanigans was not made until last week.
April 10, 1978
Acker has appointed a committee to discover who handed out the excess scholarships. Ex-Coach Rainsberger says, "Athletic Director Jersey Jermier would have been responsible for keeping track of the number of athletic grants-in-aid. The mix-up probably occurred when scholarships were granted to walk-ons at the end of the 1976 season. At that time they were still shuffling players, dropping players from scholarships and giving scholarships to walk-ons who made the team." Jermier refused comment on that assertion and on reports he himself might be fired.
At week's end, K-State got still another jolt when David Laurie, a phys-ed professor and former Wildcat football player, charged that the school had already exceeded the allowable 20 spring practice sessions by holding indoor workouts before the beginning of spring practice. Dickey admitted "overzealousness" and ended outdoor practice after only five sessions.
The Big Eight will hold a hearing on Kansas State's excess scholarships next month, but it is not known if the conference is contemplating imposing any penalties of its own. Schools that violate conference or NCAA rules are usually prohibited from going to bowls or appearing on TV, but Kansas State is no candidate for either. And the Big Eight is not eager to make K-State any less competitive than it already is. Indeed, K-State is an embarrassment to the conference, both on the field and in the public eye.
The University Interscholastic League, which governs high school sports in Texas, has a strange set of values. Last week the UIL announced it would take no action against five basketball players from Wheatley High School in Houston, although they admitted they had stolen $150 from an Austin cafeteria and 12 necklaces from a jewelry store just before winning a record fifth state Class AAAA championship. "If we start getting ourselves involved in morals," says UIL director Bailey Marshall, "we will be getting hammered to take a student off the team for having speeding tickets."
On the same day Marshall said this, another Wheatley student, Linda Williams, played her first varsity baseball game. Although the Houston school district does not offer girls' softball, the UIL not only had barred Williams from the baseball team, but also threatened to make Wheatley forfeit any game in which she played. A federal judge ruled in her favor, finding she had been denied her rights under the "equal protection" clause of the 14th Amendment.
Let's all wish a happy 50th anniversary to Neil P. Home, a 74-year-old retired ad man in West Caldwell, N.J. For 50 years, Home's hobby has been taking 16 mm. movies of celebrities, many of them from the world of sports. It all began in 1928 when Home bought a camera "to take some home movies." A former quarter-miler at Columbia, he arranged to meet Charlie Paddock—the sprinter known as "the world's fastest human," who was then appearing at a theater in Newark—at a local stadium. "I bought a tape from the five-and-dime store," Home says, "and I made some footage of Paddock doing his famous last-yardage flying leap through the tape."
Since then, Home has gone on to shoot 2,137 more celebrities. He shot Thomas Lipton on his yacht and John McGraw in the Polo Grounds. He got George Gershwin playing Rhapsody in Blue on his own piano and Bernard Baruch sitting on a park bench. Babe Ruth was a big coup because, as Home says, "I found that if I had Babe Ruth I was O.K. in sports." Another coup was Dr. James Naismith. Home heard from one of Naismith's relatives that the doctor was staying at New York's Hotel Commodore. They met, but before they went up to the hotel roof for pictures, Home remembered there was a sporting-goods store on the ground floor. He skedaddled down there and said, "The inventor of basketball is here. Could 1 borrow a basketball?" Home got the ball and took it up to the roof where Naismith tossed it around for the camera.
Horne's footage on celebrities is almost endless. It averages 15 to 25 feet per celebrity and includes Connie Mack, Bill Tilden, Charles Dana Gibson, John D. Rockefeller, Gertrude Ederle, Secretariat winning the Triple Crown, Pope Pius XII, Ty Cobb, Henry Mancini, Billy Sunday, Barbra Streisand, Toots Shor, Winston Churchill, Andy Pafko, F.D.R., Joe Pepitone, Greta Garbo, Red Auerbach, Thomas Edison, Jim Bunning (the day he pitched a perfect game), James J. Jeffries, Tex Rickard, Doc Blanchard, Howard Hughes, Joe Namath, Douglas MacArthur, Ben Hogan, Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons, Grantland Rice, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Edgar Guest ("as wholesome and genial as his poetry would indicate"), Liberace, Luis Tiant, John Philip Sousa, Spencer Tracy, Bobby Fischer, Huey Long and Gump Worsley.
And Home hasn't hung up his camera. Just this season he shot 164 NBA players. "The New Jersey Nets have been very kind to me," he says. "They let me set up just outside the visiting locker room. I can now say I have every coach and the top players in this fine sport."
If you cross a basketball with a snake, do you get a bouncing baby boa?
FIGURING THE ANGLES
In the Olympics and in international track and field meets, sophisticated electronic devices are used to measure distances in the throwing events. Now professor Dave Gibson of the University of Florida's College of Engineering and a staff of professional and student surveyors have come up with almost instant pole vault readings.
Ordinarily, measuring the height of a vault is time-consuming, calling for a ladder or cherry picker so the official can get up to the bar with his tape measure, but Gibson and his colleagues have been able to cut the time drastically by means of two theodolites and a small computer. The theodolites, used by surveyors to measure vertical and horizontal angles, are planted on tripods at a predetermined distance from the bar, and the angle readings are relayed to Gibson. He then punches the reading into the computer and gets a fast printout of the height to the lowest quarter inch.
The system was successfully used at the recent Florida Relays, and Dick Dale of the College of Engineering says, "I watched one instance in which our people had figures in seconds, but because the height was approaching a record level, the officials made their measurements in traditional fashion. They took 20 minutes or more. Our numbers were exactly what they finally came up with. In another instance, the upright scale reported one height and we showed it was an inch low. They corrected fast."
Floridians seem to be captivated by computers nowadays. A computerized tote system at Pompano Park allows a bettor to make 12 varieties of wagers on a single ticket from one window, at which the clerk can be both seller and cashier. For instance, a bettor can ask for a straight win, place or show bet, play a quinella or perfecta, and box or wheel a trifecta, all at once. And he can cash his ticket from the previous race at the same time.
Nicknamed the "Spanish Tote," the system is the creation of Juan de la Cierva, an inventor from Madrid. Pompano Park first tried it at its quarter-horse meeting last summer, then put the system into full gear for its current harness-racing season. The results have been spectacular. The meeting's average handle is up from $293,000 last year to $359,000 this season. The new prosperity has enabled Pompano to increase its purses to attract better horses, which in turn attract more patrons.
However, the new system is not without its bugs. One night in January the computers broke down and Pompano had to run its 12-race program without wagering, and refund admission money for some 7,000 bettors. But the track remains enthused. The next step in automated betting will be do-it-yourself wagers, in which horseplayers will have their own accounts to bet with, similar to the automatic cash machines used by banks.
One interesting side effect of the Pompano system: the floors are cleaner because there are fewer tickets and the tickets that are sold are more likely to have a winner on them. That's bad news for "stoopers," who search the floors for winning tickets inadvertently discarded.
THE OLD SHILL GAME
Rod Hundley, who broadcasts New Orleans Jazz games, was in Atlanta last week with the team when he was interviewed by a sportswriter for The Constitution. In the interview, Hundley called Jazz Coach Elgin Baylor "stubborn as hell...not a student of the game...lazy," and added that Baylor "doesn't take as many time-outs as he should. A lot of time our players' tongues are hanging out, and he doesn't call time." The interview appeared on a day the Jazz lost to the Hawks in overtime, and the incensed Baylor said the remarks upset both him and the team. "Hundley's remarks were ill-timed," says Jazz chief operating officer Larry Hatfield, who fined Hundley an undisclosed amount. The fine is another reminder that although pro teams like the public to think their broadcasters are independent journalists, they often regard them as little more than shills.
NOT SO HEADY EDDIE
Eddie Stanky, who was known to look for the edge when he was playing and managing in the major leagues, is the baseball coach at the University of South Alabama. In the top of the first inning of the first of two games against the University of New Orleans last week, Stanky, who was wearing a business suit and his red South Alabama hat, called from the dugout for the removal of Assistant Coach Tom Schwaner of New Orleans from the first-base coaching box. New Orleans Coach Ron Maestri was in the third-base box, and Stanky pointed out to the umpires that the collegiate rule book says a player has to coach at either first or third.
After Schwaner left the field, Maestri shouted, "We can play like that, too!" So in the bottom half of the first, he told the plate umpire the rule book says the coach of a team must be dressed in a uniform. Stanky had to leave. New Orleans won 10-3. For the second game, Stanky put on his uniform, and South Alabama won 6-4.
THEY SAID IT
•Father Vaughan Quinn, part-time goalie for a winning all-priest hockey team that plays in Michigan and Ontario: "We cheat like hell."