PRESIDENTIAL ATTITUDE DEFINED
Clemson University has been the subject of a great deal of negative publicity in the past few months. Our football program and some individuals in and outside it were found to have violated numerous NCAA recruiting regulations. A number of the violations were extremely serious.
In all my statements on this matter, I have never tried to deny, excuse or minimize the significance of these violations. In fact, I have gone out of my way to apologize to the people of my state for the embarrassment this regrettable situation has caused us all. I have also taken steps to help ensure this situation will not arise at Clemson again.
I say this to let you know I am writing not to complain about the recent comments about me in the SCORECARD section of your magazine (Dec. 6), but rather to explain to you and your readers the context in which I made the remarks attributed to me there.
I have often made statements similar to the two you quoted about "sloppy procedures" and "letting someone steal a penny a day from your desk and not stopping them until they've stolen a thousand dollars." However, you drew an inference from those remarks that is 180 degrees wrong.
The points I have always made with those statements are: 1) that slack administrative procedures in athletics can create a climate in which both major and minor rules violations can occur and go undetected for a long time, and 2) that it would be better if the NCAA, the conferences, other schools—or whoever—would alert a college president to suspected rules infractions immediately, so that preventive action could be taken if warranted. Perhaps then the college president could take earlier corrective action to keep NCAA rules violations at his school from becoming epidemic.
You headlined your item about Clemson "Presidential Attitudes." While not denying your right to interpret my statements as you see fit, I do take issue with the practice of using, out of context, statements made on two separate occasions and juxtaposing them in such a way as to indicate an attitude that simply doesn't exist.
I feel an obligation as a university president to assure you, your readers, Clemson people, sports fans and my colleagues in higher education that my attitude is accurately reflected in the following statements, which were also made, publicly, in my response to the NCAA sanctions:
"We are a community of scholars. There is no place in this community for cheating—in the classroom, in the laboratory or on the playing field."
"This university isn't going to wink at abuses of any kind, by anyone connected with any athletic program or any other program at Clemson. I'm interested in correcting our own situation, but in such a way that we can establish a model program for others."
"If—after all the time, resources and effort that have gone into this investigation—the NCAA and Clemson and college athletics aren't better off for having gone through all this, then we have wasted an awful lot of time."
BILL L. ATCHLEY
THE HEIDI AWARDS
William Taaffe did a wonderful, humorous job of highlighting the best and worst of sports telecasting in 1982 (TV/RADIO, Dec. 27-Jan. 3). In particular, I commend him for recognizing Al Michaels as the best announcer. As a lifelong San Francisco Giants fan, I have always enjoyed Michaels' knowledgeable, exciting and unintrusive style. And anyone who had the pleasure of hearing Michaels during ABC's telecasts of the 1980 Olympic hockey games must certainly share my sentiments.
BARRY J. GOLDMAN-HALL
Santa Clara, Calif.
One of the awards Taaffe offered in his otherwise amusing column was the "Heidi Award for Persistence" to CBS for "sticking with The NFL Today week after week, strike or no strike." The fact is that The NFL Today was off the air for the final two weeks of the strike. NBC Sports' NFL '82 was the only NFL pregame program not to be interrupted. During the strike NFL '82 was televised live each week and was never off the air.
THOMAS S. MERRITT
Director of Sports Information
National Broadcasting Company, Inc.
New York City
I humbly accept your Heidi Spittoon for Bad Taste in Local Sports Coverage, but giving me your feeble award can't erase the fact that you guys blew the entire coverage of the Slaughter of the Hogs '82. Not one word on Texas' 33-7 win over Arkansas. Where were you guys? Hanging out on an otter farm somewhere? Who cares!
It's only fair that I return the favor and dole out Vic's Brick to SI. Vic's Brick is thrown at national sports publications that display poor editorial judgment in crucial football situations. Hook 'em, Horns!
Please add to your Heidi Awards, under the category of Most Heartwarming Shots, the regular-season finale between the Orioles and Brewers on ABC-TV. Howard Cosell finally did something profound by persuading his producer to keep the cameras on for the spontaneous, heartwarming, tearful ovation the Memorial Stadium fans gave Earl Weaver for his many years of outstanding service to the Orioles and the city of Baltimore. It was one of those rare historic moments captured live on TV.
One of the winners—or losers—you overlooked for your Heidi Awards was ESPN, in the category of Least Intensity. ESPN covered, via tape delay, the NCAA Division I championship soccer game between Duke and Indiana. As SI reported (The Hoosiers Hung in There, Dec. 20), this was one of the most exciting college soccer games ever played, going eight overtimes and 159 minutes before Indiana triumphed 2-1. For some reason, ESPN decided to cut the first seven overtimes, depriving viewers of 60 minutes of nail-biting drama and excitement.
Your list of the Heidi Award winners was amusing, but even a casual reader of SI must wonder how you can stand behind criticism of cheesecake on network shows. William Taaffe said, "Cheesecake shots of the cheerleaders prancing in the surf...were ludicrous," and he also attacked "unexpurgated low-angle shots of cheerleaders." Every year at about this time SI seems more than proud to publish cheesecake shots of models prancing in the surf under the lame guise of some sports theme.
Letters should include the name, address and home telephone number of the writer and be addressed to The Editor, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Time & Life Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, N.Y. 10020.