PRINCIPLES AND DETAILS
SI's Robert Sullivan reports on the recent meeting of the NCAA Presidents Commission in Chicago.
The 44-member panel agreed on legislation it will present for approval at the January 1991 NCAA convention in Nashville, and these initiatives are in line with the less-is-more measures that the presidents guided through the 1990 convention in Dallas: fewer scholarships, shorter seasons and a general de-emphasis on big-time sports.
Among the presidents' recommendations:
July 15, 1990
•Scholarship cuts in all sports. Football grants-in-aid would drop from 95 to 85 per school by 1994, basketball from 15 to 13 by 1993.
•Shorter seasons in most sports. The maximum number of games would fall from 70 to 56 in baseball, from 38 to 34 in hockey and from 38 to 32 in volleyball. There would be cuts in 15 other sports, not including football and basketball. New limits in those sports are being dealt with in separate legislation.
•A 20-hour week for athletics. No college athlete could spend more than 20 hours a week in organized practice, team meetings and games, excluding time devoted to physical therapy. That would represent a 33% time reduction in most sports.
•A five-year phaseout of all jock dorms. This measure would put athletes in closer contact with their fellow students and the academic community.
If there was one worrisome note at the Chicago meeting, it was sounded—unwittingly—by NCAA executive director Dick Schultz and by Martin Massengale, chairman of the Presidents Commission and interim president of Nebraska. Schultz, who shares the presidents' zeal for reform, said that he expected the Presidents Commission soon to "evolve into a little different mode of operation. You're not going to see it legislating the nitty-gritty details of everything."
Massengale said, "We're involved in principles, not details."
The fact is, the Commission, which was established in 1984, has had an impact only when it has involved itself in the nitty-gritty of such issues as entrance requirements (Proposition 48), drug use and, now, length of seasons.
If presidents think they're going to pass these reforms without a fight, though, they're wrong. Listen to Georgia athletic director Vince Dooley: "If we're not careful, some of these changes might affect the game in ways we don't want it affected."
That's fair warning to the presidents. They can talk all they want about principles, not details, but they would do well to be in Nashville, legislating the principles and the details. As one Commission member, Asa Green, president of Livingston (Ala.) University, said, "It's the presidents who have got to do it."
JUST LIKE THE LOCKER ROOM?
Wimbledon, the tennis tournament, has given birth to Wimbledon, the fragrance. The new women's eau de toilette sells for $71 for a 3.3-ounce bottle, and the men's scent goes for $62. Upon being asked to describe the fragrance, Mark McCormack, whose IMG agency handles Wimbledon's $50 million-a-year merchandising ventures, said, "It reeks of tradition."
When Don Childs, a masseur at the exclusive La Costa Spa, in Carlsbad, Calif., isn't kneading knots from the backs of stressed-out movie producers, he is doing the same for the equine set in Southern California. Childs began massaging horses in 1978, and now his stall calls fetch $55 apiece. "I do as many horses as I do people," he says.
Backrubs on the backstretch have become increasingly common. Masseurs will tell you that a massage does the same for horses as it does for jockeys—relaxes tired muscles and promotes better blood circulation. "A muscle is a muscle is a muscle," says Craig Denega, a rubdown artist who last October opened a racehorse-massaging firm with partner Mary Schreiber in New Hope, Pa. A routine massage, with two masseurs double-teaming a horse, runs about $50 and takes 45 minutes to an hour. And for a mere $250 a week Denega and Schreiber will welcome your horse to an 11-acre complex they call EQUI-SPA, a kind of La Costa for sore-flanked thoroughbreds. There, horses nosh on "nutritional supplements" while being lavishly groomed and massaged. "At the beginning the [horses'] attitude is, Who is this guy and what is he doing?" says Denega. "After that, they like it. Some of them even look forward to it. We have regular customers."
THE DOOR IS OPEN
A welcome policy change by the U.S. Volleyball Association (USVBA) promises to pump life back into the U.S. men's team, which recently suffered through a 1-9 stretch against other national squads. The change is simple: Until now, if a member of the national men's or women's program left to play elsewhere—say, professionally in Europe, as most of the members of the Olympic gold medal-winning 1984 and '88 men's teams have done—that player would not be allowed back into the U.S. program. Now any player who has been aboard for at least four straight years can leave and come back.
Last month Craig Buck, a starter on the 1984 and '88 Olympic teams, rejoined the U.S. men after playing for a year and a half in Italy and France. Caren Kemner, a cornerstone of the women's team until she left in '89 for Italy, will compete for the U.S. in the Goodwill Games later this month.
Even Karch Kiraly and Steve Timmons, who recently signed contracts reportedly worth $500,000 apiece to play in Italy over the next two years, now say they're interested in rejoining Buck for the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. There, all three players could earn their third gold medals. The USVBA is wise to have given them the opportunity.
THE NBA'S C.P.A.
Last season Philadelphia 76er forward Charles Barkley was fined 38 times for fighting and other transgressions, and all told he forked over $37,000 to the NBA. But Barkley shrugged off the dent in his $2.6 million salary by saying, "I'll write it off my income tax."
After Barkley uttered those widely quoted words, the Internal Revenue Service took it upon itself to comb the tax laws. Last week the IRS announced that Barkley can indeed deduct the fines as "an ordinary expense." Said Wilson Fadely of the IRS office in Washington, "We couldn't find anything that would deny a deduction." We're sure it wasn't for lack of trying.
PUNCHER WITH A PEDIGREE
In his professional boxing debut last month at the Henry VIII hotel in Bridgeton, Mo., light heavyweight Leon Calvin won a four-round split decision over Derrick Brown. Calvin, 19, is the oldest son of Leon Spinks. Though their surnames aren't the same—and though Calvin has a gold tooth where his dad has nothing at all—young Leon is very much his father's son.
"He has a good left jab," says Calvin's trainer, Charles Hamm. "He has a pretty good right hand." His needs? "A good knockout punch," according to Hamm. "Better defense."
But like Spinks, the former heavyweight champ who fought the law as frequently as he fought pugilistic opponents, Calvin is considerably more vulnerable outside the ring. As an amateur he won two Golden Gloves titles in his hometown of St. Louis, but he missed this spring's tournament when he was arrested on gun-possession charges. He was nearly killed in 1988 after being shot in the abdomen at a party by a friend who was apparently aiming at someone else. Says Hamm, a plumber who first started training Calvin when the fighter was nine, "He needs to keep coming to the gym and stop getting into trouble on the streets."
Calvin also needs to be tamed in the ring. "We've got to slow him down," says comanager Jim Howell. "Right from the start, he tries to tear your head off." Calvin's father, of course, was not one to fight with finesse either.
Leon Spinks and Zadie Calvin, who never married, have three children. Darrell, 17, is said to be the best boxing prospect, though Corey, 12, has also begun fighting amateur bouts. The boys' father has spent the last several years in Detroit and Chicago, working as a bouncer-greeter in local bars. More recently Spinks has been officiating professional wrestling matches and preparing for a September bout with a South Korean kick-boxer.
Spinks hasn't seen his oldest son fight in several years. Calvin's uncle, former light heavyweight and heavyweight champion Michael Spinks, manages some St. Louis fighters, but his nephew isn't one of them. Still, Calvin, the father of two himself, feels blessed by his bloodline. "My father was a champ, and so was my uncle," he says. "I am a Spinks son. If my father can do it, so can I."
Calvin's handlers, however, know that the same pedigree may be their fighter's biggest negative. Says Howell, "He has his dad's same carefree attitude."
THEY SAID IT
•Martina Navratilova, on Andre Agassi, who passed up Wimbledon to rest: "It's like a football player who skips the Super Bowl because he has to get ready for training camp."