INSIDE A TROJAN COURSE
This is an article from the March 31, 1980 issue
Unlike USC track star Billy Mullins, who received transfer credit for courses offered at far-flung community colleges at practically the same hour (SCORECARD, March 24), 28 other Trojan athletes, including 19 football players, are in dutch because of their involvement in a course offered on their own campus. According to USC officials, the trouble began with the discovery last Dec. 4 that the athletes were enrolled in Speech Communication 380 but weren't attending classes. The instructor resigned and the athletic department's academic coordinator was suspended, but USC officials said that eligibility for the Rose Bowl, in which the Trojans beat Ohio State 17-16, was unaffected because the athletes had been given a five-day "crash course."
But June Shoup, chairman of USC's Speech Communication department, now says that the university is reviewing the athletes' work in the crash course, which consisted of written evaluations of debates. The campus newspaper, the Daily Trojan, quoted a USC administrator as saying that some of the evaluations "demonstrated that [the football players] were being exploited. We are just carrying these people and in the process they're not getting any education." The Trojan ran part of what it said was an evaluation by an athlete who evidently was impressed with the persuasive powers of a debater named John:
"I when went John because He had a point on girl that I couldn't not again, so that made me think girl don't have body for lady) unless they wont that why I went with John."
Until the decision was made to review all course work, the evaluation's author apparently was slated to receive credit for the course. And for all anyone knows, he still may.
CROWING & CRYING
Baseball is thriving as never before, as the game's higher-ups are the first to admit. They proudly point out that major league attendance last season reached an alltime high of 43,550,398, the fourth straight year in which the record had been broken. Last week Commissioner Bowie Kuhn's office reported that season-ticket sales for 1980 are, once again, onward and upward. With Opening Day still three weeks away, eight of the 26 teams—Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Houston, Baltimore, California, Boston, Milwaukee and Texas—had already set season-ticket records. Thirteen other clubs have been selling season tickets at a pace ahead of last year's, and several of them seem sure to break records, too. Only Philadelphia, San Diego, the Mets, Toronto and Oakland are experiencing declines, and the Phillies still hope to equal last year's team record of 19,000 season tickets. And once the season is under way, the Mets could be aided at the ticket windows by the tonic effect of new ownership and the A's by the addition of Billy Martin as manager.
None of which prevents baseball's owners from crying poor to justify the hard line they are taking in their current contract dispute with the players. Marvin Miller, whose union is threatening to strike, might regard that as something of a contradiction.
WING AND A PRAYER
On Feb. 17, 1979 Providence College's Rudy Williams sank a length-of-the-court desperation shot at the first-half buzzer in an 84-77 basketball win over Rhode Island. The distance subsequently was measured as 89 feet, and the shot went into the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest field goal ever. Two months ago Virginia Tech's Les Henson hit a basket in the final seconds against Florida State that was both more dramatic—it won the game 79-77—and longer than Williams' shot. At least it was longer if you accept as valid the post-game measurement of 89'3". But wait. Should the distance on such baskets be measured from the shooter's heel or toe? Or from his fingertips? And does the measurement properly end at the front of the basket rim or the back?
The field-goal record is also causing confusion in other ways. Recently Steve Topping, an editor at Sterling Publishing Co., the U.S. publisher of the Guinness book, belatedly learned of a three-point basket that the Indiana Pacers' Jerry Harkness scored at the buzzer to beat the Dallas Chaparrals 119-118 in an ABA game in 1967. Apparently because of discrepancies in eyewitness accounts, Harkness' basket has been listed at both 88 and 92 feet.
On top of all this, a San Diego man named Steve Myers happened to read a newspaper story about Henson's basket and alerted Guinness to a shot he accidentally made while playing for the Cowlitz Redi-Mix AAU team in a 139-52 loss to Pacific Lutheran University's junior varsity in that school's gym in Ta-coma, Wash, in 1970. Putting the ball in play from under his own basket, Myers flung a pass downcourt—and the ball went in. Although the rules of the game specify that out-of-bounds shots don't count, the refs allowed the "basket." Pacific Lutheran officials confirm Myers' account and put the distance he heaved the ball at 92'3½".
So what's the record? Topping says that the next edition of the Guinness book will likely credit Henson with the longest field goal in a college game and Harkness with the pro record—probably at 92 feet—and that Myers' shot will be listed merely as a "claim." Confesses Topping with a sigh, "We're sorry we ever got into this."
TRACY, TRACEY, TRACEE
Tracy Austin and Tracy Caulkins, who last year became the youngest winners ever of the U.S. Open tennis tournament and the Sullivan Award, respectively, recently had their braces removed and celebrated their 17th birthdays. Australian swimmer Tracey Wickham, who holds the world record in the 800-meter freestyle, has turned 17, too. But don't worry. As Austin, Caulkins and Wickham grow creaky with age, here come 13-year-old Tracee Talavera, who earlier this month won the American Cup gymnastics title, and Canadian figure skater Tracey Wainman, who may be even more precocious. Wainman is just 12, yet two weeks ago she placed 14th in the world championships in Dortmund, West Germany.
Contrary to what one might conclude, the name Tracy (or Tracey and Tracee) was not particularly fashionable in the English-speaking world when the aforementioned girls were born in the '60s. What popularity the name did enjoy, moreover, was derived partly from Tracy Lord, the character Grace Kelly played in the 1956 movie High Society. She had trouble making up her mind as to which of several suitors to marry, the sort of indecisiveness none of her young, famous and obviously single-minded namesakes have evinced in their rush to the top of their various sports.
OFF ONE COURT, INTO ANOTHER
The San Diego Clippers announced last week that Bill Walton would be sidelined for the rest of the season because he had reinjured his left foot. Walton, who had returned to action Jan. 29 after missing nearly two seasons on account of a fractured instep, suffered a "stress reaction" in the same spot and doctors warned this could lead to a new fracture if he continued playing. Coming on top of his previous layoffs, the latest injury raised fears that Walton's basketball career might be at an end, a line of speculation that was heightened two days later when he filed a malpractice suit against the Portland Trail Blazers' team doctor, under whose care he claims he suffered "severe and extensive and permanent damage."
Walton insists, however, that he will overcome his latest setback and play again. He averaged 13.9 points and nine rebounds in the 14 games during which he performed for the Clippers, but says that at no time in that period did his foot feel right. "I just never had any drive off it," he says. He believes he came back too soon and says he will "wait until the pain goes away" and then play himself back into shape during the summer. "There is no possibility that it's all over," the 27-year-old Walton says. "I still believe I can make it all the way back."
Then what about the lawsuit? According to Walton, his latest injury had nothing to do with the timing of the suit, which had been in the works for months. Of course, the most recent injury could buttress his case when it finally comes to trial. The suit accuses Dr. Robert D. Cook, who treated Walton during his years with the Trail Blazers, with, among other things, failing to diagnose the fracture that has brought him so much grief and prescribing "inappropriate" medication and injections. For his part, Cook says, "It is just as well that all the facts in this matter be laid on the table—and be laid to rest."
IN THE CLEAR
The International Amateur Athletic Federation has restored the eligibility of nine leading track and field athletes. Four of them, including U.S. high jumper Dwight Stones and French hurdler Guy Drut, had been suspended, supposedly for life, because of violations of IAAF rules regarding amateur standing. The remaining five, middle-distance stars Totka Petrova of Bulgaria and Natalia Marasescu of Romania and three other Eastern European women, had been banned last October for taking anabolic steroids. Although these suspensions were officially for life, too, IAAF procedures allow for reinstatement in drug cases after 18 months. However, the suspensions now will be lifted on July 1—after just eight months. If, as expected, the International Olympic Committee clears the nine athletes, all will be eligible to compete in the Moscow Olympics.
Stones had been suspended for accepting prize money for an appearance on the TV show Superstars and had previously been cleared by the AAU to return to domestic competition. Drut, the 1976 Olympic gold medalist in the 110-meter hurdles, had been punished for receiving under-the-table payments. Also reinstated were John Smith and Henry Hines of the U.S., both of whom had competed on the defunct International Track Association pro circuit. Smith had energetically lobbied for reinstatement, arguing that the IAAF was unfair in banishing athletes for life for taking money but for only 18 months for taking drugs. Contrary to press reports, none of the ITA's other 70-odd performers were returned to the IAAF's good graces. But shotputter Brian Oldfield, for one, is in the process of applying for reinstatement and is expected to get it, too.
The clearing of Stones, Drut, Smith and Hines should cause little discord because the action comes at a time when amateur rules in international sport are generally being relaxed. Reinstatement of the five women found guilty of taking steroids is more controversial. It particularly angers Arnold Beckett of Great Britain, a member of the IAAF medical commission, which conducts the federation's doping tests. "If they want tests carried out for them they are going to have to carry out their own rules," he said.
IAAF President Adriaan Paulen of the Netherlands noted that an 18-month suspension in the steroid case would have kept the women out of the Moscow Olympics, which would have constituted "an extra penalty." He said that the IAAF Council had therefore reinstated them for "humane reasons." Paulen conceded that the action might appear to be a setback to the IAAF's campaign against drug use. This didn't stop him from casting the vote in favor of reinstatement that broke the council's 8-8 deadlock on the issue.
THEY'RE STRONG DURING FINALS WEEK
Of the 16 teams that have made it to the final four in the NCAA basketball and hockey tournaments the past two seasons, two conferences have accounted for half. One is easy—the Big Ten. The other? The Ivy League, which last year sent Penn and Dartmouth to the final four in basketball and hockey, respectively, and has qualified Dartmouth and Cornell for this week's hockey final four in Providence. The other semifinalists are North Dakota and Northern Michigan.
THEY SAID IT
•John Mackey, former Baltimore Colt tight end, lamenting the absence of a black head coach in the NFL: "I look at all the coaches in the game today, and I think to myself there's no reason why a black coach can't lose, too."
•Johnny Walker, world middleweight wrist-wrestling champion, expounding on the demands of his sport: "It's about 90% strength and 40% technique."