THE NCAA'S GLASS HOUSE
The Washington Post revealed last week that several NCAA staff members have, since 1978, received no-interest mortgage loans from the NCAA itself. Among the recipients: executive director Walter Byers, who has been in his post for 34 years. Byers received a no-interest $118,000 mortgage in 1982, according to documents the Post says it has examined. The NCAA's policies allow low-interest loans drawn by employees against their salaries, but assistant executive director of communications Dave Cawood had no comment to make when the Post asked him about the no-interest loans.
More disturbing than the mortgages was the Post's report that Byers' ranch holds a $500,000 loan from United Missouri Bank of Kansas City, the only authorized repository of unlimited NCAA deposits, and that the loan was extended at 8% interest in 1981, when the bank's prime rate was 16¾%. The NCAA said Byers doesn't select the NCAA's banks and that he received favorable terms from United Missouri not because he heads a $40-million-a-year operation with substantial funds but because he and his family have other financial interests.
However, the Post quoted a United Missouri official as saying that the fact that a private borrower like Byers heads an organization with large sums of money "is going to color our opinion" in setting terms. Officials at other banks say such preferential treatment is common but that such loans raise ethical questions. In the case of Byers, whose organization enforces the rules governing the conduct of college athletes and who is forever preaching about high ethical standards, the questions are particularly pointed.
At a time when other pro athletes are, rightly or wrongly, resisting mandatory drug testing, the world's leading men's tennis players have taken such testing to their collective bosom. The 10-member board of the players' union and the governing Men's International Professional Tennis Council voted recently to test players, starting next year, for cocaine, amphetamines and heroin.
The men will be tested at two tournaments picked from among the four Grand Slam events and the International Players Championship. No players will know in advance which events have been chosen, and any player refusing the test will be subject to a one-year suspension from Grand Prix play. A player who tests positively must undergo treatment.
The tennis players' willingness to undergo testing should, if nothing else, enhance their image, which has been damaged by boorishness, avarice and rumors of drug use by some players. Says players' union board member John McEnroe, "Taking drugs won't help your game. All of us voted in favor of the test."
Fisherman's luck is a strange thing. Take the story told by Norm Harding, a Richland, Wash. veterinarian who hadn't boated a catch in his last six months of trying. Two weeks ago, while fishing with his wife, Juneal, at McNary Dam on the Columbia River, Harding felt "a funny kind of strike" on his line. He reeled and reeled until he pulled out an 8½-foot...abandoned fishing rod. Ever curious, Harding set down his own pole and began to reel in the line from the one he had found. Caught on the lure was a six-pound steelhead trout. Harding laughed about it, and when he returned the next day with two other fishing partners, Mike Lucas and Brian Neilson, he joked, "By golly, I think I'm going to repeat yesterday's performance." Whereupon Harding cast his line, felt a funny tug, reeled in yet another abandoned rod, grabbed it, wound the reel and pulled into his boat another six-pound steelhead.
A MESSAGE FROM HOG HEAVEN?
When Arkansas cornerback Kevin Anderson dislocated his right shoulder on Oct. 12 in a game against Texas Tech, he was told his season was over. He was scheduled for surgery later that week. The day before the operation, Sandy Hatfield, wife of Razorback coach Ken Hatfield, was watching the 700 Club on television when the show's host, Virginia-based evangelist Pat Robertson, who doesn't know the Hatfields, said, "There is a person out there who has a shoulder injury. I believe it is from football. He thinks he needs surgery but he doesn't. The shoulder will heal itself."
Hatfield immediately called her husband, who went to the hospital to tell Anderson. "I didn't know what to think," says Anderson. The next morning, his doctors took some final X rays that convinced them to postpone surgery. And sure enough, Anderson's shoulder mended so rapidly he was able to return to the Arkansas lineup against Texas A & M two weeks ago and recover a blocked punt for the Hogs' only touchdown in a 10-6 loss. "I don't know if [Robertson] was talking about me," says Anderson, "but for me to come back and be able to play when it looked like I'd be out for the season is more than just a coincidence."
Then there's Father Benda of St. Patrick's Church in Iowa City, whose hidden passion is Iowa football. On Nov. 16, when the Iowa-Purdue game conflicted with his Saturday confessional duty, he sneaked a transistor radio into the box. He says he was getting away with his scheme until "I started saying, 'Take the penalty' or 'Take the down' when I should have been giving out Hail Marys."
A RECORD MADE TO BE BROKEN
Track and field star Carl Lewis has released a record album in Japan called The Feeling That I Feel. Curious about it, we asked our Tokyo correspondent, Edwin Reingold, to check on its sales. We're almost sorry we asked.
"He may be great in track," replied Reingold, "but in the recording studio he sets no records. The recording venture is a total flop here, and the record company is getting returns from the stores already. A major shop at the heart of Tokyo's Ginza has sold only eight platters, and a representative of the company is so embarrassed he hesitates to say much because he doesn't want to tarnish the image of Lewis as a gold medalist. A local DJ says the music was so bad he didn't play a single cut on the air. Please advise if you want to do the flop side of this story, if you'll pardon the expression."
Thanks, we'll leave it at that.
THE WALTER MITTY OF THE MAT
Until several months ago, his neighbors in Portland, Maine knew Rob Elowitch only as the urbane and rather scholarly co-owner of the city's respected Barridoff Galleries. Elowitch, 42, a cum laude graduate of Amherst, has for years devoted much of his time to developing artistic and cultural programs throughout Maine; his gallery has sold works by such renowned American painters as Thomas Eakins and Winslow Homer for prices as high as $154,000. Elowitch also belongs to one of Portland's most accomplished families; his sister, Linda Abromson, is a former mayor of the city, and his father, Yudy, is cofounder of a thriving local tire manufacturing company.
Yet for the last 20 years Rob Elowitch has led a secret life—as a professional wrestler. He has competed under the names Robbie Ellis and Danny Diamond in rings throughout the U.S. and Europe, playing the hero against the likes of Lord Herculon and Killer Kowalski. "Basically, it's just that I love wrestling," says Elowitch, a 185-pounder who had grappled for Amherst. Concerned about his image, Elowitch hid his mat career from his customers, parents and most of his friends by never competing in Portland; he often squeezed in matches while on business trips. His secret became public ii June, however, when he reluctantly agreed to be listed on a wrestling card in Portland and local papers put him on the front page To his relief, Elowitch has found that the publicity about his wrestling career hasn't hurt his gallery business at all. In fact, in the Maine art world he's now admired more than ever. Says Elowitch, "Many of my most sophisticated customers have said how happy they are to find someone with the guts to carry out Walter Mitty-like dreams."
THEY SAID IT
•Dave Currey, University of Cincinnati football coach, on the William Perry phenomenon: "We don't have any Refrigerators. We have a few pot-belly stoves, but they're on the coaching staff."
•Bill Foster, University of Miami basketball coach, on his players' jitters the first time they practiced in game uniforms: "They threw up enough bricks during warmups to build a condominium."
•Scott Hastings, Atlanta Hawk reserve forward, on his college career at the University of Arkansas: "I was so bad that when I shook with boosters they took money out of my hand."