Black Eyes for the Buckeyes
Ohio State's once-proud basketball program has fallen on hard times. Last season the Buckeyes had a 13-16 record and failed, for the first time since Randy Ayers took over as coach in 1989, to qualify for postseason play. But far worse is Ohio State's record off the court.
The trouble began in May 1993 when Damon Flint, a 6'5" swing-man and incoming freshman, was ruled ineligible after at least 17 NCAA violations were tied to his recruitment. Flint has since enrolled at Cincinnati.
Charles Macon, a 6'7" forward and a former Indiana Mr. Basketball, has pleaded guilty to theft, drunken driving and marijuana possession after a March incident in which he pumped $16.30 worth of gasoline into his car and drove off without paying. He received a suspended sentence and is serving a year's probation. Ayers suspended him for the 1994-95 season, and he has since flunked out of school.
In April the scholarship of Gerald Faker, the projected starting center this season, was lifted after he shot out the tire of a car owned by teammate Antonio Watson. Eaker has since left Ohio State.
Also in April, Rickey Dudley, a forward-center as well as a tight end on the Buckeye football team, was charged with drunken driving. When he failed to pay $300 in fines and $69 in court costs, a warrant was issued last week for his arrest. Only then did he pay, and, as of Monday he was still on the team.
Since March junior guard Greg Simpson has been involved in a series of incidents (an arrest for drunken driving, which he plea-bargained, an assault charge that was dropped, driving Eaker away from the scene after Eaker fired the shots into Watson's tire and, most recently, a fight with a former girlfriend that resulted in calls being made to police) that have put his career in limbo. Simpson was already under indefinite suspension from the team before his latest indiscretion.
Ayers's troubles don't end there. Derek Anderson, a 6'6" swingman who was probably the Buckeyes' best player, transferred to Kentucky. Nate Wilbourne, a 6'11" center, transferred to the University of South Carolina in April. And Dudley is probably headed for a postseason bowl with the football team and won't rejoin the basketball program until January.
Sadly, the Buckeye basketball team is not the only misbehaving bunch on campus—three football players (not including Dudley) have been in trouble with the law. Noseguard Timiko Payton and offensive tackle Eric Moss were arrested in June and later indicted on felony charges after they were accused of stealing an ATM card. Moss plea-bargained and is still on the team. And kicker Mike Malfatt, who is also still on the roster, spent one night in jail and is awaiting trial for allegedly stealing $445 worth of goods from a Columbus discount store on July 26.
Shell-shocked athletic director Andy Geiger has stuck behind both Ayers and football coach John Cooper. And his inclination has been to show leniency to the players, particularly in the case of Simpson. "We're in the kid business," said Geiger last week. "If we can save Greg from himself, we will have done a good job."
At some point, however, someone should save the Ohio State program.
Vitas Gerulaitis was a man who moved between various eras of tennis as smoothly as he once moved from baseline to net. He chatted amiably in his television work with oldies but goodies like Tony Trabert and Fred Stolle, he jammed on the guitar with John McEnroe, he gave counsel to young superstar Pete Sampras. When Gerulaitis was found dead at age 40 on Sunday at the home of an acquaintance in Southampton, N.Y., the tennis world lost a free spirit and a shaggy-haired ambassador. As SI went to press, the Suffolk County medical examiner had not yet determined the cause of death.
Despite a career in which he ranked among the top five players in the world in four different years. Gerulaitis was better known for his Studio 54 lifestyle. He was one of the few athletes who admitted using cocaine, in the late 1970s and early '80s, and also acknowledged that his penchant for partying had hurt him on the court. He was reportedly treated for substance abuse in 1983 and was implicated, though never charged, in a cocaine-dealing conspiracy that same year.
But by all indications Gerulaitis had pulled his life together. He did commentary for CBS during the U.S. Open (his native Brooklynese accent was part of his charm), he played on the masters circuit, and, most of all, he kept up relations with the myriad friends he made in the game.
There was no better example of Gerulaitis's affability than his friendship with Sampras. Sampras, 23, a reserved and sometimes lonely young champion, opened up to Gerulaitis, adopting him as one of his chief confidantes and advisers. "He had a big heart," says Sampras. "He was someone I considered one of my best friends, and I don't have that many. I could tell him anything."
When Sampras collapsed in the referee's office after losing a five-set match to Jaime Yzaga in the round of 16 at the recent U.S. Open, he ordered everyone out of the room except Gerulaitis. "He took care of me," says Sampras. "That's the kind of guy he was."
Gerulaitis's flamboyance and penchant for high living masked the fact that he was a tenacious competitor with nonpareil quickness and a variety of shots hatched on New York City's public courts. What he lacked was the one big weapon that would have pushed him ahead of his more successful contemporaries—Bjorn Borg, Jimmy Connors and good buddy McEnroe, who beat him in the final of the '79 U.S. Open. But he will be remembered as a man who wrestled with his personal demons and hung around to do some good.
No Kick from Kicking
Santa Fe High's first-year football coach, Steve Baca, has a philosophy, and it goes like this:
"Someone asked me what our kicking formation was, and I told them, 'We won't ever kick the damn thing.' We'll never try a field goal or extra point. I hated it in college when the team would bust its butt the entire game, and some guy who didn't even practice with the team decided it with his foot. As far as fourth downs go, we'll just go for it. As for extra points, please. If you can't make three yards after you've just driven for a touchdown, you shouldn't be on the field."
But that's not to say Baca's not flexible.
"If we get the program to the level where it's playing for the state championship, I might get a kicker. But not until."
It might be awhile. Santa Fe High lost its 36th straight game on Friday night, 41-8 to Manzano High. And although Baca's Demons were never in the game, they did go for—and make—a two-point conversion following their lone touchdown.
Hold That Tiger?
Countless outstanding athletes have entered college with every intention of earning their degrees. And so began the college career this month of the most celebrated teenage golfer ever.
"There's more to life than just golf," said 18-year-old Tiger Woods, phenom, U.S. Amateur champion, Stanford freshman. "I'm here for four years." That sentiment was echoed by his coach, Wally Goodwin, who said, "I've done a lot of thinking about him, and I want to be a part of his life for four years."
No one can blame Goodwin, whose team won the NCAA championship last year even without Woods. But it's best to wait to see if Woods can live up to his good intentions. Although more and more young golfers are hanging around to get their degrees—closely watched and highly regarded Phil Mickelson may have started the trend when he graduated from Arizona State in 1992—relatively few top golfers have earned their sheepskins. Virtual none of the most prominent foreign players has his degree, and among the 20 leading American money winners only seven are college grads. They are: Tom Lehman (Minnesota, '82), Hale Irwin (Colorado, '68), Scott Hoch (Wake Forest, 78), Brad Faxon (Furman, '83), Bill Glasson (Oral Roberts, '82), Hal Sutton (Centenary, '81) and Mickelson. The lure of millions and the demand of playing every day make it tough for most golfers to stick with their studies.
Woods won his inaugural college event last week by shooting a three-round total of 208 (eight under par) in the 40th Tucker Invitational played on the University of New Mexico Championship Course. Woods begins classes on Sept. 28 and, after a few days, will be leaving Stanford to play in the World Amateur Team Championship in Versailles, France. Just an-other typical freshman road trip.
The Hard Sell
For the new-age NHL, a league working hard to shed its doom-and-goon image, the Tampa Bay Lightning's latest advertising campaign seems a tad behind the times. Continuing its Kick Ice theme from last season, the Lightning has unveiled a series of billboards coupling catchy slogans with dramatic action photos. Most feature good clean hockey, but at least a couple seem to skate over the line.
One ad shows Lightning defenseman Marc Bergevin administering a particularly vicious-looking check to a New York Ranger. The attendant slogan: HOCKEY MEANS NEVER HAVING TO SAY YOU'RE SORRY. Too subtle? How about a shot of a Lightning player mowing down an opponent next to this message: WELCOME VISITING TEAMS. MEDICS ARE STANDING BY.
Tampa Bay spokesman Gerry Helper insists the campaign is not intended to play up the violent side of hockey. "You have to look at the total context," he says. "There's no blood."
Every, Fencer, Dies
Dernell Every, a former fencing national champion, died last week at the age of 88. He was a member of the U.S. bronze-medal team at the 1932 Olympics, but he made a name for himself four years earlier. While aboard the S.S. Roosevelt en route to Amsterdam for the 1928 Olympics, Every, a Yale graduate, was injured in a minor mishap. A cable sent to fencing officials in New York and released to news outlets was mistakenly devoid of commas and read, "Every fencer on board Roosevelt injured."
So, obituary writers out there, please be en garde for proper punctuation.
In a move that should have Reggie Miller salivating, the NBA competition committee last week recommended moving in the three-point arc from 23'9" to 22'0", a rule that will take effect in the 1994-95 season, pending approval from the NBA's board of governors. Here is a look at some other modifications that have changed the geometric face of sports.
Distance from pitcher's mound to home plate increased from 50' to 60'6". An obvious advantage for the hitters.
Key lane in NBA widened from 6' to 12'. Dubbed the Mikan Rule, it was designed to move Minneapolis Laker giant George Mikan farther from the hoop.
Key area widened from 12' to the current standard of 16'. Installed partly to contain Wilt Chamberlain.
Pitcher's mound lowered from 15" to 10". Installed in response to pitchers' domination in the previous season.
Goal post moved to back of end zone. Reduced number of occasions that receiver ran pell-mell into the posts.
NFL kickoff point moved from 40- to 35-yard line in an effort to reduce touchbacks.
NFL kickoff point moved from 35- to 30-yard line (see above).
Former NFL receiver Steve Largent recently won the Republican nomination for the U.S. House seat from Oklahoma's 1st district. He is the latest to follow in the footsteps of such athletes turned politicos as Bill Bradley, Jack Kemp and Tom McMillen. Several other sports figures are either pursuing or rumored to be pursuing elective office. Herewith our campaign analyses.
Campaign Theme Song
First Act In Office
Charles Barkley, Phoenix Sun forward
Considering a run for governor of Alabama
Well-known clashes with Godzilla could lead to trade problems with Japan
I don't wanna be your role model, but I do wanna be your governor
Born to Be Wild by Steppenwolf
Issue himself blanket pardon for all past and future nightclub indiscretions
Richard Petty, NASCAR legend
The King says he may run for the North Carolina senate
Tendency to go around in circles; handlers are the pits
STP: Strength Through Petty
Crawling from the Wreckage by Dave Edmunds
Raise speed limit to 135 mph
Joe Bugner, former heavyweight contender
Contemplating a run for the state parliament in Australia
Human-punching-bag image may fail to inspire voters
I've taken the shots, now I want to call them
Hurts So Good by John Cougar
Change the three-knockdown rule to the nine-knockdown rule
Pelè, soccer legend
Seen as potential president of Brazil
Annoying practice of referring to himself in the third person
His goooooallll is good government
Alive & Kicking by Simple Minds
Charge national debt off on MasterCard
Arnold Schwarzenegger, bodybuilding thespian
Former fitness czar is touted as a possible future governor of California
Monosyllabic delivery: Strangelovean accent: The Last Action Hero
Terminate unemployment, pump up girly-man economy
Physical by Olivia Newton-John
Declare English a second language
Roberto Duran, ring immortal
Ran unsuccessfully for assembly seat in Panama; may run again
Past image as a lightweight
Say no màs to bad government
Mama Said Knock You Out by L.L. Cool J: anything by Duran Duran
Raise middleweight limit to 225 pounds
Big Daddy Don Garlits, drag racing giant
Running for Congress in Florida
Raft of unpaid speeding tickets
Big Daddy is watching
Hot Rod Lincoln by Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen
Eliminate all emission standards and noise-control ordinances
Nolan Ryan, strikeout king
Rumors that he may run for governor of Texas
Unpolished communication skills; tendency to brush back critics
Nolan: He won't throw you a curve
Old Man down the Road by John Fogerty
Vigorously support three-strikes-and-you're-out crime bill
Karl Malone, Utah Jazz forward
Has entertained thoughts of running for mayor of Salt Lake City
Large collection of technical fouls
A forward-thinking forward
Please Mr. Postman by the Marvelettes
Mandate that the Mormon Tabernacle Choir expand its jazz repertoire