Thank you for the story in your special college basketball preview on New Hampshire coach Gerry Friel (On the Spot, Nov. 16). There has been a lack of commitment on the part of the university to its basketball program for about as long as it has had a basketball team. When I tried out for the team in 1946, the players were met by a coach who knew more about football than basketball. He stayed on for four years.
Friel has done an outstanding job, considering the material he has had. His players learn to play a team game, and his teams usually remain in the hunt to the end. It's time the administration put some money into basketball—football and hockey have gotten the lion's share for 30 years—but I hope Friel will stay at New Hampshire for another 20 years, because I know he is interested in the future of his players, not just in winning.
I congratulate Coach Friel on the philosophy he espouses. We may not find his Wildcats in the Top 20, but neither will we see them embarrassed because of recruiting violations.
The article on Gerry Friel makes it painfully evident that college coaches should be eligible for tenure.
December 12, 1988
Thanks to Curry Kirkpatrick for the fascinating article in your preview on John Paul (Sonny) Vaccaro (The Old Soft Shoe, Nov. 16). As the director of a youth basketball camp, I have found Sonny's advice and support invaluable. He has never been too busy to assist a young newcomer. He deserves respect.
Is this yet another indicator that college basketball is more of a business than a game? Sounds like it. Then again, if Nike has become so enormous in basketball, why do some pretty big coaches and their teams continue to choose Adidas (Duke, Indiana, Temple), Reebok (Loyola Marymount, UNC Charlotte, Notre Dame, Ohio State) and Converse (Illinois, Louisville, Memphis State, North Carolina, Tennessee)? Perhaps the shoe war, much like the game itself, has found parity.
Curry Kirkpatrick's profile of sneaker huckster Sonny Vaccaro overlooks one obvious problem with the practice of college coaches accepting as much as $200,000 annually for putting their players in a particular brand of basketball shoe. This arrangement has always struck me as pure exploitation of the players. Where is it stipulated that a college basketball team's footwear is the exclusive franchise of the coach?
With due respect to the many great performers of 1988, we suggest for Sportsman of the Year a man fans can truly relate to—L.A. Dodger utility man Mickey Hatcher. Throughout the postseason he played with enthusiasm (those dashes around the bases), hustle (those headfirst dives) and humor (those mock forearm bashes). He epitomized the Dodgers, who showed that effort and spirit can overcome a supposed mismatch in talent. Most of all, Hatcher showed that major league baseball can still be fun.
SCOTT GASH, DAVE SCHEIDT, JIM HOFFMAN
Doug Williams for Sportsman of the Year. Whether winning a Super Bowl or serving as a backup quarterback to Mark Rypien, he is a class act. Our Washington media can be overzealous at times, but Williams has always kept football in perspective, and he has always set a good example for our kids. And, oh yes, he had the greatest Super Bowl of any quarterback.
Michael Jordan. In 1987-88 he was NBA MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, the league's leading scorer, All-Star MVP and Slam Dunk champion. What's more, he is a great human being.
That Notre Dame has received the College Football Association's Academic Achievement Award for the fourth time in the eight years the honor has been conferred (SCORECARD, Nov. 14) certainly puts the record of former Irish coach Gerry Faust (left) in perspective. In the column that really counts—diplomas earned—Faust's third class of recruits achieved a perfect score. All 24 players who entered in the fall of 1982 had graduated by last June. Everyone knows how Faust suffered with each defeat, so it is only fair that he share in the limelight of this national championship.
THOMAS S. SPERBER
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