The embarrassments keep mounting for North Carolina State and its 6'11" freshman basketball star, Chris Washburn. On Feb. 4 Washburn pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor charges in the theft of an $800 stereo from another student's dorm room and received a six-year suspended sentence. Last week, court documents revealed that Washburn, who was dropped from the Wolfpack team after his arrest on Dec. 21, was admitted to N.C. State despite a combined score of 470 on his Scholastic Aptitude Test. That's only 70 points above the lowest possible SAT score and far below the 1,030 average—out of a 1,600 maximum—of this year's freshman class at State. Washburn got a 270 on the mathematics portion of the test and a rock-bottom 200 on the verbal portion.
Test scores—either SAT or the similar ACT—are used by most schools as one of several criteria for admissions decisions. According to the Comparative Guide to American Colleges, the average freshman SAT combined score—to take some random examples—is 1,192 at Virginia, 1,067 at Colorado and 983 at Pepper-dine. It's 910 at Idaho and 830 at Delaware's Goldey Beacom College. Towson State in Baltimore and La Roche College in Pittsburgh set minimum SAT scores of 800 for admission, while Mississippi puts its minimums at 680 for in-state students and 870 for out-of-staters.
North Carolina State does not have a minimum SAT requirement. Ironically, for many years the ACC, N.C. State's conference, maintained stricter admission standards than those dictated by NCAA rules, requiring first a 750 and then an 800 minimum SAT score for scholarship athletes. But the ACC was sued by athletes who maintained that the conference rule was unconstitutional, and in 1972 member schools rescinded the measure.
February 18, 1985
N.C. State officials hasten to point out that Washburn passed all four of his courses during the fall semester: composition and rhetoric, history of American sport, sociology of the family and public speaking. But one would have to be exceedingly naive to imagine that the school admitted him because it saw in him some hidden glimmer of academic promise rather than because of his basketball skills. Of course, N.C. State isn't alone in bending its standards to admit star athletes. Before Washburn decided to attend that school, Maryland and Virginia Tech appeared ready to admit him as well. In fact, Washburn was recruited, through visits, phone calls and a flood of impassioned letters (SI, Nov. 26, 1984), by no fewer than 150 of this nation's institutions of higher learning.
SING A SONG OF PAR
While playing in the Bing Crosby National Pro-Am (SI, Feb. 11), singer Vic Damone sliced a fairway wood on the 15th hole at Pebble Beach that sent the gallery scattering. Bob McLain, a sports-caster on WSB-TV in Atlanta, showed a tape of Damone's unfortunate shot and bestowed on the crooner in absentia the station's Smelly Sweat Sock Award. The next day, McLain received a phone call from Damone, who had heard about the not-so-coveted award from a friend in Atlanta. "You forgot to mention that I wound up parring the hole," Damone complained.
McLain broadcast a follow-up telephone interview with the caller—but only after satisfying himself that it really was Damone. First he asked the man to sing something; Damone obliged with a few melodic bars of Moon River. Then McLain was given the phone number of a hotel in Pebble Beach. He hung up, called the number, was put through to Damone's room—and found himself talking to the same man. More important, the caller sounded like the dedicated 14 handicapper that Damone is known to be. "I'm kind of sensitive about my golf," the man told McLain. "If you'd said something bad about my singing, I wouldn't have minded."
For his tireless efforts to put together a package of stadium improvements and economic concessions to keep the financially beleaguered Eagles from bolting to Phoenix, Philadelphia Mayor Wilson Goode has received many bouquets from grateful citizens. But he has also caught a few barbs for the costliness of the package, which includes, just for starters, 1) construction of 25 sky boxes in Veterans Stadium in each of the next two seasons at a cost of $5 million, 2) deferral for 10 years of the team's reported $850,000 a year rent and 3) construction of a new practice field. All of which prompted this dig at Goode by Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Clark DeLeon:
"Did you hear the one about...Mayor Goode and [Eagles owner] Leonard Tose? They were driving in a car together on the way to price some luxury boxes for the Vet when there was a horrible crash. The next thing both men knew, they were standing at the gates of heaven and St. Peter called them forward. 'Mayor Goode,' St. Peter said. 'You have lived a good life and have devoted yourself to the betterment of Philadelphia and its citizens. You may have anything you wish.' Goode thought for a moment and said, 'I'd like five million in cash.' St. Peter made some whooshing sound effects, and there was the money.
"Then St. Peter turned to Tose and said, 'And what would you like, Mr. Tose?' Tose lit a cigarette and stroked his tanned chin. 'I'd like a money belt,' he said, 'and 15 minutes alone with Mayor Goode.' "
AN ENDOWMENT FOR OLYMPIC U.
After years of crying poor, the U.S. Olympic Committee has finally seen its ship come in. Because of its role as the financial guarantor of the Los Angeles Olympics—it stepped in when the city of L.A. decided not to underwrite the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee's expenses—the USOC is entitled to 40% of the LAOOC's burgeoning surplus, which could reach $250 million. The USOC intends to put that windfall, plus its $30 million cut (so far) from the Olympic coin program, into an endowment administered by the newly established USOC Foundation.
The USOC brass emphasizes that income from the endowment will be used primarily for administrative expenses and that the USOC will thus have to continue its customarily aggressive fund-raising activities to meet its operating budget of $115 million for the 1985-88 quadrennium. This means that the USOC will again lobby for congressional approval of a checkoff on federal income tax returns to benefit Olympic programs, a measure that has gone nowhere in the past for the very sound reason that the Olympics are no more worthy of such assistance than a hundred other deserving causes. It also means that USOC fundraisers will still put the touch on corporate donors. Fretting that companies might think the USOC no longer needs such contributions, the committee's new president, John B. Kelly Jr., says, "We'd like them to look at us like a university that has a fine endowment but still needs their help."
The USOC obviously feels that it can put potential donors into a giving mood by marketing the sort of jingoism exhibited by Americans at the L.A. Games. At the USOC House of Delegates meeting last weekend in Colorado Springs, a "U.S.A. '88" campaign was kicked off with much hoopla: A let's-go-get-'em film was shown, T shirts were handed out, balloons were released and a chorus of fresh-faced youths chanted, "U.S.A.! U.S.A.!" Of course, ever-larger sums of money aren't all that the U.S. needs to compete successfully against the U.S.S.R. and East Germany—intelligent coaching and organizational skills are important, too—but you wouldn't have known this in Colorado Springs. Asked if money was the cure for whatever ails this country's Olympic effort, William Napier, president of the U.S. Bobsled Federation, which hopes to use some of the USOC's new riches to build more runs, better sleds and the like, replied unhesitatingly, "You bet."
SIGNED, SEALED AND CERTIFIABLY YOURS
What you see here is a "certified autograph" of baseball Hall of Famer Robin Roberts. It's notarized—which means of Robin really signed it—and mounted on a framed 8" x 10" piece of parchment. The parchment is also adorned with Roberts' photo and career stats, an embossed seal and a registration number. Certified Autographs of Jamison, Pa.. whose embossed seal it is, will send you this item for $29, the same price it charges for the autographs of such other immortals as Whitey Ford, Bob Gibson, Mickey Mantle and Lou Boudreau. For $19 you can get the signature of Billy Herman or Monte Irvin or such non-Cooperstown inductees as Richie Ashburn and Joe Torre. A Ted Williams will set you back $39, and a "commemorative autograph" of Pete Rose, one of three active players whose autographs are available (George Brett and Steve Garvey are the others), goes for $41.92. The commemorative autograph will be mailed to purchasers within five days after Rose, who currently has 4,097 career hits, gets No. 4,192 to break Ty Cobb's lifetime record. The company says that if Rose never breaks the record, the money will be refunded.
Paul Lehman, the owner of a mail-order business, started up Certified Autographs with, among others, former major league pitcher Bobby Shantz ($19). Lehman says the rationale behind the business is that autograph hunters naturally want to be sure that the John Hancocks they collect are authentic. But it sounds like blatant commercialization to us. Will ballplayers now refuse to give free autographs? "Oh, you're not bound to just sign for [Certified Autographs]," Hall of Famer Ted Lyons ($19) says, adding that he still signs gratis for those who ask. But Chuck Adams, a spokesman for commissioner Peter Ueberroth, objects that "Players selling their autographs is not something we in baseball like. It's just not good for baseball."
THEY SAID IT
•Dwight Sullivan, New Jersey Generals fullback, asked if he would like to room with Seven Million Dollar Man Doug Flutie: "That's fine. Between us, we'll be worth $7,025,000."
•Phyllis Merhige, American League public relations director, explaining why she wasn't offended by off-color remarks that she'd heard at a baseball banquet: "I don't shock easily. I read the umpires' reports."
•Bill Macatee, a former Dallas sports-caster, reflecting on his days covering the Cowboys: "The big milestone in anybody's career is when Tom Landry calls you by your first name. The first time it happened to me, I almost changed my name to what he called me—Ray."