Calling Off the Press
Some $50 million was bet legally on the NCAA tournament during
its three-week duration, but that figure only hints at the sums
that were wagered clandestinely through illegal bookmakers, to
say nothing of ubiquitous office pools. And with surveys
suggesting that more than 5% of college students are ensnared in
sports betting to a pathological degree (the second of SI's
three- part series on the subject begins on page 68), there are
signs of a new urgency among the guardians of college sports to
Last summer members of the NCAA men's basketball committee
floated the idea of denying Final Four press credentials to
anyone affiliated with a newspaper that publishes point spreads.
The ban never got past the talking stage, in part because press
row at the Kingdome would have been sparsely occupied last week
if such a ban had been enacted. Of the U.S.'s 50 largest
dailies, only The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal do
not publish betting lines on pro and college sports.
Nonetheless, panelists representing several points of view
gathered in Seattle last week to discuss the issue. The most
sensible note of the panel was struck by The Miami Herald
executive sports editor Paul Anger, who said, ``When we say a
team is favored and by how much, that's of interest to the
garden-variety sports fan, not only or primarily to the
bettor.'' In fact, who's favored and by how much are innocent
points of information not all that different from the seeds that
the NCAA tournament committee assigns each team every spring.
Further, if newspapers were to stop publishing betting lines,
the information would be readily available from on-line and
telephone services. That's why the committee's original instinct
to browbeat newspapers into no longer publishing point spreads
was misguided and why the NCAA did the right thing to set up a
forum that turned out to be a salutary consciousness-raising
A Long Way to Go, Baby
Al Bundy could not have stated it more eloquently. ``It's a
given that women love to shop,'' a male reporter said to a group
of UConn players during last Friday's press conference at the
women's Final Four in Minneapolis (page 38). ``Have you been to
the Mall of America yet?''
The annual migration of the Pitino wannabes reached Seattle last
week, where a gaggle of young coaches conducted an odd mating
ritual with their more established brethren in the lobby of the
Sheraton, site of the National Association of Basketball Coaches
convention. Participating in a hallowed Final Four tradition,
dozens of upwardly mobile coaches milled around the lobby
desperately hoping they would just happen to run into Jim
Boeheim or Billy Tubbs. But while the frenzied foyer at the
Sheraton proved a great place to purchase a hoops ticket for the
price of a Manhattan town house or to become a Scientologist, it
was no place to find a coaching position. ``It's a bunch of
piranhas gobbling up goldfish,'' said Providence coach Pete
Gillen. ``After walking through this lobby, you'd better count
your fingers at the elevator.''
Actually, even the elevator wasn't safe. One of the classic
scams of the upwardly striving is to loiter near an elevator
until several big-time coaches climb aboard and then make their
sales pitch to a captive audience. Other young candidates choose
to gain acceptance by having themselves paged. Failing that, a
young coach can always start a rumor about himself. Says
Stanford coach Mike Montgomery: ``Somebody starts a rumor that
Bill's going to East ern U for $50,000 a year, and once it works
its way around the lobby, it comes back a half hour later that
Bill's going to Eastern State for $8 million a year plus two
Well-established coaches are particularly loath to admit that
they are lobby lizards. Among those coaches, past and present,
who were voted All-Lobby in an informal poll of their peers
last week are George Raveling, Jerry Tarkanian, Clem Haskins,
John Thompson and Bill Frieder. Not every coach in the lobby is
networking, however. Said one coach last Friday, ``Gosh, I hope
I haven't hired anyone tonight, because I'm as drunk as a loon.''
What every coach agreed upon was that the Sheraton lobby was a
lousy place to secure a job. ``Anytime I'd get a resume, I'd
take it right back up to my room and file it straight in the
trash,'' said Raveling, while fending off a scalper hawking two
ducats for $1,600. ``Everybody here is looking for a date to the
prom, but this is an awful place to find employment -- or
anything else, for that matter.''
Hitting the Rhode
In 1991 Rodrick Rhodes was one of the most sought-after high
school basketball players in the country, a prospect any coach
hobnobbing in the Sheraton lobby last week would've loved to
sign. Kentucky coach Rick Pitino lured him to the Bluegrass from
St. Anthony's of Jersey City, in part by touting him as the next
Jamal Mashburn. The Youthful Genius so coveted Rhodes, in fact,
that he honored Rhodes's demand that he not seek another
But Rhodes has never lived up to his inflated hype. In three
seasons at Kentucky he has shot often and erratically and has
disappeared in big games. That, however, hasn't deterred Rhodes
from telling friends and teammates that he intends to go to the
NBA predraft camp in Chicago in early June with an eye to
turning pro. And, notwithstanding his public statements to the
contrary, Pitino -- who has grown weary of the influence of
Reggie Rhodes, Rodrick's brother, adviser and agent-to-be -- is
virtually holding the door for him. Pitino has three starters
coming back next season, a recruiting class that includes Ohio
State transfer Derek Anderson and a good shot at signing
schoolboy sensation Ron Mercer, all of which makes the bluest of
``Overbooking'' is a hoary tradition at Air Wildcat -- remember
the 1986 comment by Eddie Sutton, Kentucky's coach at the time:
``I'll bring in a whole new team each year if I want to'' -- and
running players off is a lamentable consequence of that
practice. It seems unlikely that an NBA team will want someone a
college team doesn't, but Rhodes can only hope one does. As
Pitino said last week when asked whether there would be a place
for Rhodes in Lexington if he wasn't drafted, ``He really has
nothing to come back for.''
Perhaps seven-year-old Elizabeth Anne Noble will someday believe
that her oldest brother, Tom, is not automatically awarded a
championship ring every spring. For now, though, she cannot be
swayed. When Tom stopped 21 of 23 shots last Saturday to help
Boston University to a 6-2 win over Maine in the NCAA hockey
championship (page 99), it marked the fifth straight year that
Noble, the Terriers' freshman goalie, had ended his season
beneath a celebratory pileup. Before arriving at BU last fall,
Noble played for Boston's Catholic Memorial High, which won the
Massachusetts state title in each of his four years at the
school. ``Geez,'' says Noble, who played behind Washington
Capitals' rookie phenom Jim Carey during his first two high
school seasons, ``I don't remember the last time a season ended
without a championship. Seventh, eighth grade?''
Noble's feat, however, paled before that of Stanford's Kristin
Folkl's. During her four years at St. Joseph's Academy in St.
Louis, Folkl, a Cardinal freshman, won four state titles in
volleyball and four in basketball. And in December she helped
the Stanford volleyball team win a national championship. Alas,
Folkl's drive for a fifth straight hoops title fell short when
the Cardinal lost 87-60 to Connecticut in the Final Four
Women in Kneed
During the two months since we published our story on the
epidemic of anterior cruciate ligament injuries in women's
basketball (Feb. 13), Tennessee guard Tiffany Woosley has spent
approximately 224 hours rehabilitating her reconstructed right
knee. We've spent almost as much time sifting through responses
from readers who have endured or performed knee surgery. Our
story focused on basketball, in which women sustain ACL tears
four times more often than men do. But our expert correspondents
tell us the numbers are disproportionate in other sports, too.
In soccer and skiing, women suffer twice as many of these
serious knee injuries, and ACL tears are disconcertingly common
among women involved in gymnastics, handball and volleyball.
Donald Cooper, team physician at Oklahoma State for the last 35
years, is one of many medical professionals who would like to
see efforts to prevent knee injuries start in childhood. He
thinks young people of both sexes are predisposed to ACL tears
because they don't develop strength in their ligaments, tendons
and bones. ``We allow them to grow up with no physical
education, in front of the TV, and they end up with a weakened
infrastructure,'' he says. Cooper also believes that society
encourages girls to be less active than boys, thus placing girls
at higher risk. ``Muscles will grow,'' he says. ``But once you
go past puberty, you can't go back and stimulate the tendons and
ligaments to get that strength.''
As for Woosley, she tried to finish her senior season on the
court. But her knee wouldn't allow her. Instead she watched from
the sidelines as the Vols reached Sunday's NCAA championship
game, where they lost to Connecticut, 70-64.
You would think the toughest question Jack Gardner could field
would be the one about which Final Fours are his most memorable.
After all, Gardner, who's 85, is perhaps the only person to have
attended all 56 of them,and that makes for lots to remember.
But the question isn't a tough one: His most memorable came in
1948 and '51, when he coached Kansas State into college
basketball's capstone event, and in 1961 and '66, when he took
Utah there. Indeed, no one else has twice coached different
teams to the Final Four.
Thanks to good health and the indulgence of his wife, Marion,
Gardner has been a postseason perennial since 1939. Choosing his
most bittersweet Final Four is easy: In the fall of 1965, while
coaching at Utah and enjoying a reputation as a guru of the fast
break, Gardner took a call from Texas Western coach Don Haskins.
It seemed the Bear had an unusually quick team that season, and
he wanted pointers on how to replace the walk-it-up offense
pioneered by his mentor, Henry Iba. A few months later, as every
hoops historian knows, Haskins's Miners, which featured an
all-black starting lineup, went on to beat an all-white Kentucky
team in the final. To get there, Texas Western ran its fast
break past Gardner and the Utes in the national semifinals.
Recalling the irony of that defeat, Gardner says, ``I became the
all-American chump on that deal.''
Before it beat UC Riverside 71-63 on March 25 to claim the NCAA
Division II crown, the men's basketball team at Southern Indiana
hadn't won a national title in its 24-year history. But the
Screaming Eagles did receive a favorable omen before this year's
Final Four. On March 17, the university inaugurated a new
president. His name: Dr. H. Ray Hoops.
The NCAA Tournament provided its usual shock of hair-raising, and
hair-razing moments. With honorable mention to the Monarchs of
Old Dominion--the starting five shaved their heads before the
start of the tournament in a show of solidarity--we present an
All-Hairdo team in tonsorial tableaux.
Diamonds To Ice
CHRIS DRURY, Boston University's freshman winger, may be the most
famous Little Leaguer in recent memory (above), but he isn't the
only one to abandon the base paths for the blue lines. In last
Saturday's NCAA hockey final, Drury faced Maine forward Brad
Purdie, the starting shortstop for the Canadian entry in the 1984
Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa. Drury, who had two
assists in the Final Four, closed out his inaugural college-hockey
season in familiar style: arms held high in triumph, just as they
had been when he pitched the U.S. to victory in the 1989 Little
League World Series. Purdie, Maine's leading goal-scorer this
season, with 29, settled for NCAA runner-up, better than the
fourth place he helped the Canadian team gain in the '84 series.
``The Korean players arrived at 6 a.m., and they were out doing
calisthenics at 8,'' recalls Purdie of the team that defeated the
Canadians in Williamsport. ``Then the guy threw a no-hitter at us.
It wasn't as exciting as this."
This Week's Sign That the Apocalypse Is Upon Us
RAP STAR Luther Campbell has threatened to provide the NCAA with
fresh allegations of a pay-for-play operation at the University of
Miami unless Ryan Collins, a close friend of Campbell's, is named
UM's starting quarterback this fall.
They Said It
Senior Oklahoma State center, when asked if his strong
performance during the NCAAs might have bolstered his status in
the NBA draft: ``What happens to me next year will happen to me
no matter what happens.''