Barred from last fall's Pac-10 football race because of academic-transcript abuses and buffeted by the indictment of a number of its athletes on various criminal charges, the University of Oregon is now in the news again. This time there are indications that a wealthy lumberman tried to impose onerous conditions on a pledge to give the school $250,000 toward construction of a domed basketball arena. The lumberman, Aaron Jones, has reportedly threatened to cancel his proffered gift unless the university disbands a five-year-old clinic run by its law school.
The object of Jones' purported threat is the Pacific Northwest Resources Clinic, one of a number of organizations established by law schools in recent years as a means of giving students real-life legal experience. The Oregon clinic's work has been mostly on behalf of public-interest groups fighting for environmental causes, earning the clinic the full wrath of the timber industry, which exercises great influence in the Pacific Northwest. Lumbermen have been particularly unhappy about the clinic's role in representing the Idaho Wildlife Federation in a suit to restrict logging near the South Fork of Idaho's Salmon River. The suit maintains that certain types of timber harvesting could further hurt the river's salmon runs, which already have been decimated.
The attacks by the timber industry have been none too subtle. For example, John Runft, an attorney for Idaho-based Evergreen Forests Products, Inc., wrote to a University of Oregon official, saying the clinic's work was "against the interest of the timber industry" and was therefore "incredibly antipathetic to the interests of the university since I understand many of the large supporters of the university are to be found among such business interests." Then there are the machinations of Jones, who owns Seneca Sawmill Co. of Eugene and also is a prominent breeder and owner of race-horses. Jones hasn't commented publicly, but his attorney, Lewis Hoffman, was quoted in the Eugene Register-Guard as confirming that Jones threatened to cancel his $250,000 pledge if the university didn't close the clinic. Hoffman has been quoted elsewhere as saying of the clinic, "What they are doing, as far as my client is concerned, is hurting the economy of the state of Oregon."
Hoffman and Jones are entitled to question the policies of their state university. But any effort to influence those policies with money is another matter. One Oregon state senator, Ted Kulongoski, asserted on the floor of the legislature last week that the threat to withhold the $250,000 gift amounted to "extortion." However the threat might be characterized, it will probably surprise some people to learn that donors of large sums of money to universities don't always throw their weight around—at least not so overtly. Robert Odegard, vice-president for alumni and development at the University of Minnesota, says, "Few people try to tie strings to gifts. Most people understand the autonomy of the university and don't even ask." That Jones apparently did ask may have something to do with the fact that his gift was for athletic purposes, which seem to be particularly susceptible to undue outside influence—witness the excessive control boosters wield over many athletic departments. To its credit, the University of Oregon says it has no intention of closing the clinic. It ought to go even further and directly repudiate Jones' ultimatum—and his now-tainted gift. No school needs a new gym that badly.
American University of Washington, D.C. has a name rich in promotional possibilities. Thus, in the early '70s, American's publicists hailed the star of the school's basketball team, Kermit Washington, as "the Center of the American Revolution." Kermit Washington, get it? To publicize its current star, Russell Boo) Bowers, American distributed Frisbee-like discs bearing the inscription RED, WHITE & BOO, a play on the school's inevitable colors, and dubbed the 6'5" senior forward "The American Express," going so far as to print up facsimile American Express cards bearing Bowers' likeness. Sports Information Director Rick Vaughn also issued a "statement" detailing Bowers' "transactions"—i.e., points and rebounds—and spread the word that Coach Gary Williams "never leaves home without him."
But all that was before Jan. 14, when Bowers, who was among the nation's leaders with a 25.5-point scoring average and had led American to an 8-2 record, was sidelined with ligament damage in his right knee. Since then the Eagles (what else?) have won five of six games, including a 63-55 victory last week at West Chester (Pa.) State, and they'll have to continue leaving home without Bowers until his expected return later this month. This will almost certainly prevent Bowers, who has scored 2,052 career points, from reaching the 2,500-point mark, a milestone achieved by only 16 collegians. Too bad. Vaughn was planning to commemorate the accomplishment by issuing facsimiles of the American Express "Gold Card."
Track fans are understandably excited about Renaldo Nehemiah's avowed intention to train for the 400-meter intermediate hurdles. They figure that the upshot could be a series of dream races between Nehemiah, who has the four fastest clockings of all time in the 110-meter high hurdles, and Edwin Moses, who has the nine fastest times in the 400. But contrary to popular belief, Nehemiah and Moses have competed in a hurdles race already. It happened in 1978, when both were entered in a little-noted 110-meter race in Zurich. Nehemiah was on the verge of becoming the best in that event, and Moses was using the race to tune up for his 400-meter specialty later that evening. Nehemiah won in 13.23, followed by Charles Foster in 13.58 and Moses in 13.65.
More recently, history's two greatest hurdlers have confined their potentially explosive rivalry to a confrontation on an episode of the ABC-TV show The Superstars taped in mid-December in Key Biscayne, Fla. and aired on Sunday. Nehemiah and Moses twice competed face-to-face. One meeting came in a heat of a rowing competition won by baseball's Bill Buckner with Nehemiah second and Moses third. The other came in a 300-foot obstacle-course race that involved scaling a 12-foot-high wall, scrambling through a tunnel, pushing a blocking dummy, high-stepping through auto tires, leaping over a water hazard and a high-jump bar and, yes, clearing two three-foot hurdles. Competing in separate heats, Moses and Nehemiah were clocked in 24.55 and 25.83, respectively. Nehemiah might have gone faster except that he tripped over a hurdle. In the finals he didn't trip and was timed in 24.16, but Moses won anyway, in 24.04. However, Nehemiah finished ahead of Moses when the results of all events were taken into account. Assuming they're allowed to pocket their winnings under track and field's increasingly liberal "amateur" rules, Nehemiah earned $7,400, Moses $4,700. Did it occur to Nehemiah and Moses during the Superstars taping that they might soon be moving their rivalry onto the track? Said Moses unhesitatingly, "We thought about it."
THE OTHER DEADEYE AT ACCURACY U.
In his article on Oregon State's basketball team (page 22), Curry Kirkpatrick dwells on the exploits of the Beavers' 6'10½" center, Steve Johnson, who had a 71.0 field-goal percentage last season, an NCAA Division I record, and is shooting a startling 76.2% this season. Well, it happens that the 6'5" senior center on the Oregon State women's team, Carol Menken, is shooting 72.2% from the field, which is tops in the country, too. Menken, who has averaged 28.6 points a game and has led her team to a 12-4 record, deems it no coincidence that the two Oregon State teams boast such accurate shooters. "Both teams do a lot of passing and try to get the ball inside for the high-percentage shot," she says.
Oddly, both Menken and Johnson shoot better from the field than from the foul line; her free-throw percentage is a so-so 63.4, his not much better at 65.1. But while Johnson plays a lot "above the rim," scoring freely on tap-ins and twisting layups, Menken relies on six-to-eight-foot turnarounds. Says Johnson graciously, "Basically, we both take high-percentage shots, but hers are harder than mine. She takes jumpers."
CHARTING THE FLOW OF THE GAME
Go ahead and laugh, but you can apparently learn a lot of interesting things from water-pressure readings and the like. For example, the resort town of Ocean City, Md. (pop. 35,000), used sewage-flow measurements to determine that it had exactly 225,582 visitors last July 4. The calculation was made on the basis of variations in the flow of waste water computed by means of what scientists at Johns Hopkins University's School of Hygiene and Public Health, who developed the technique, call the "demoflush" factor. Similarly, utility officials feel that water-consumption readings can provide a pretty fair idea of just how riveting major sports events and popular TV shows like Roots might be. That's because bathroom use during the most gripping events tends to decline for long stretches of time, then increase significantly during breaks in the action and again at the end of the show.
A case in point is the situation in Philadelphia during Super Bowl XV. As residents crowded around TV sets, the Philadelphia Water Department recorded that at 7:30 p.m., late in the first half, it was pumping water at a 290-million-gallons-a-day rate. By contrast, the flow at 8 p.m., during halftime, sharply increased to a 448-million-gallon rate. Obviously, Philly residents had been admirably biding their time up to that point. But at 9 p.m., well into the second half, the rate declined only slightly, to 339 million gallons, suggesting that some Eagle fans had resigned themselves to the worst and were taking leave of their TV sets. At 10 p.m., after the game ended, the flow increased only to a 361-million-gallon rate. The water department had expected a bigger postgame surge, but many Philadelphians had probably already turned off the TV, having long since realized that the Eagles were going down the drain.
NINE O'CLOCK LIGHTNING
Southern Cal Basketball Coach Stan Morrison had a problem. Dwight Anderson, a heralded guard known as Dwight Lightning, and Forward Mike Owens, both of whom had transferred to USC (from Kentucky and Orange Coast College, respectively), were to become eligible at exactly 9 p.m. on Jan. 26, the moment when fall-semester final exams on the campus officially ended. The Trojans were playing California, starting at 8 p.m. in the L.A. Sports Arena, and Morrison wanted to have the services of his two new players the instant they became eligible, which figured to be roughly halftime. But if Morrison listed Anderson and Owens in the official scorebook before the game, he'd be entering names of players still technically ineligible. If he didn't, he'd be subject to technical fouls for using players not entered in the scorebook. After consultations with the Pac-10, the matter was resolved. Morrison, it was ruled, could enter the players in the scorebook before the game.
That out of the way, Anderson and Owens warmed up in street clothes during the first half, using a basket put up under the stands. The Trojans rolled to a 32-27 halftime lead over Cal. During the teams' halftime warmups, nine o'clock arrived. So, dramatically, did Anderson and Owens, who, now in uniform, ran onto the court to the robust cheers of Trojan fans. While Owens didn't play until the final seconds, and went scoreless, Dwight Lightning struck quickly, playing 19 minutes and contributing nine points to a 72-66 Trojan victory.
THEY SAID IT
•Ernie Banks, Hall of Fame ballplayer, now a management trainee at a Chicago bank: "My ultimate dream is to have my own bank, maybe in Paris. I'd call it Banks' Bank on the Left Bank."
•Mike Schmidt, addressing a Philadelphia sportswriters' banquet: "Philadelphia is the only city in the world where you can experience the thrill of victory and the agony of reading about it the next day."