Transferring and recruiting are poisoning high school sports
This is an article from the Sept. 21, 1998 issue
Boy, this free agency thing is terrible. You no sooner get
familiar with all the players on the home team
than--poof!--there they are playing for the archrivals. How's a
fan of high school sports to stay loyal? Yes, waves of itinerant
teenagers, no longer content to play for the ol' neighborhood
school, seduced by the siren's song of misguided adults, are
changing the landscape of high school sports in a troubling way.
An investigation of the girls' basketball team at Narbonne High
in Los Angeles, which finished last season ranked sixth
nationally, found that Narbonne had used three players who had
supplied false addresses to make it appear that they lived
within the school's attendance area. To its credit the
California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) revoked Narbonne's
1998 state title on Sept. 8.
That case was hardly the only one this summer involving shopping
around by athletes and recruiting by high schools. Last month
Miami Senior High lost its 1998 state boys' basketball title
after it was learned that five of its players had lived with
school coaches, employees or boosters, in violation of state
rules. Of Miami High's 15 players, 14 had come from outside the
school's district. "I'm seeing more attempts by coaches and other
adults to attract high school athletes to specific programs,"
says Jack Hayes, the executive director of the CIF. That might
have been the scenario at Trinity High in Garfield Heights, Ohio.
Recently, after Pat Diulus was fired as girls' basketball coach
and took a job at Regina High, a private school in nearby South
Euclid, five players and two incoming freshmen withdrew from
Trinity and enrolled at Regina.
Fishy transfers and illicit recruiting are nothing new to high
school sports, but they are becoming alarmingly commonplace. And
legal. The Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA),
for example, allows students to transfer before the start of the
school year even if their only reason for transferring is sports.
And that athlete can suit up immediately. "I'd like to say that
kids aren't using [school choice] to transfer for athletic
reasons," admits CHSAA associate commissioner Bill Reader, "but
I'm not naive."
The recent decision by a U.S. district court in Tennessee that
affirmed the right of high schools in that state to recruit
athletes (Scorecard, Aug. 10) will most likely encourage other
lawsuits by the I-wanna-play-where-it's-best-for-me crowd. "If
the door is forced open as far as coaches attempting to persuade
kids to attend schools," warns Dave Fry, executive director of
the Illinois High School Association, "then we have a very
serious problem." --Grant Wahl
A ROLL(OUT) MODEL
Last season's 66-3 rout by UCLA was the nadir of Texas quarterback
Marty Cherry's career, as it was for most of his Longhorns
teammates. Playing in relief of Richard Walton, Cherry, a
redshirt sophomore, was sacked three times, fumbled twice and
threw three interceptions, the last of which was returned 40
yards for the Bruins' final score. After one of the interceptions
an ABC camera zoomed in for the standard dejection close-up. "It
was my lowest moment as a player," Cherry says.
And his biggest break. Acclaimed fashion photographer Bruce Weber
happened to be watching the game on TV and was struck by
Cherry's--as the fashion press might say--smoldering good looks and
gave him a call. Now the 21-year-old Cherry, who quit the
Longhorns last November but who remains in school as a business
major, makes an estimated six-figure salary modeling for Chaps.
He has appeared in clothing ads in Esquire and Rolling Stone and
on a billboard in Times Square, and has done runway shows for
Versace in Milan. In SI's college football preview (Aug. 31) he
appeared not, as he might have, in the analysis of Texas's
prospects for this season but on page 115, holding a football in
a Chaps ad.
Cherry, whose older brother Mike is a backup quarterback for the
New York Giants, says he misses football and still roots for the
Longhorns. He watched last Saturday's rematch with UCLA, which
the Bruins won 49-31, and often wonders what might have been.
"If I'd stayed, I could have competed for the starting job this
year," he says, "but modeling was just too good an opportunity
to pass up."
A week after last year's shellacking, Cherry watched a video of
the game. He remembers his reaction when he saw the camera zoom
in on his embarrassed face after that fateful interception. "I
was like, Why are they showing me for so long!" Cherry says with
a laugh. "Now I'm glad they did. If I had kept my helmet on, I
don't know where I'd be right now."
SHOT HEARD ROUND THE WORLD
With his recent dinger deluge, Sammy Sosa made it clear that the
Great Home Run Race of '98 is far from over. But no matter how
many he and Mark McGwire end up with, it's unlikely we'll see the
sort of hoopla that greeted Big Mac's historic 62nd tater.
Herewith a compendium of McGwirania that may have gone unnoticed.
Were the Maris kids on hand?
The Hollywood Wax Museum in Branson, Mo., used wax from a
melted-down statue of Roger Maris to construct one of McGwire for
its sports-legends wing.
Was this Marge Schott's idea?
The Cincinnati Reds sent 62 cases of bananas to the St. Louis
Cardinals' locker room in recognition of the feat.
O.K., but how does he explain Madonna?
From the pulpit of New York's St. Patrick's Cathedral, John
Cardinal O'Connor, the archbishop of New York, pointed out that
Babe Ruth, Maris and McGwire were all products of a Catholic
school education. "So if you have a son or daughter that you want
to hit 60 or more home runs, our schools are open."
We remind Kansas City gas station owners that the Royals' Jose
Offerman leads the majors with 12 triples.
A Michigan gas station owner lowered the price on regular to 62.9
cents a gallon until police ordered him to call off the bargain
because of heavy traffic.
M-I-C, K-E-Y, M-O-U-S-E....
Tim Forneris, the Mouseketeerlike grounds-crew worker who
retrieved the 62nd, was honored with a parade through Disney
Will they send those little balls to Cooperstown?
The winning number in the Missouri Pick-3 lottery on the day
after the blast, was 0-6-2. The number was played by 149 homer
hopefuls, who won $500 apiece.
Almost as popular as the Ginsu.
In the 3 1/2 hours following McGwire's home run, QVC says it took
orders for more than 100,000 items of 62nd homer commemorative
merchandise, bringing in more than $2.6 million.
Red Sox Red Cap
Tom Gordon of the Boston Red Sox was so convinced that fellow
reliever and teammate Jim Corsi was overstating his closeness to
McGwire that he said he'd carry Corsi's bags if McGwire mentioned
Corsi during his post-62 press conference. True to a pledge he
had made, McGwire worked Corsi into his comments.
Hi, could I speak to Mr. Sewsa?
Mark McGuire, of St. Charles, a St. Louis suburb, received
countless telephone calls for interviews, including one from a
prisoner who called collect.
Mark Overseas, Part 1
Asked Australia's Sydney Telegraph: Is Mark McGwire the greatest
Mark Overseas, Part 2
Wrote Germany's Frankfurter Rundschau: "In this hour nobody was
interested in the fact that the fans were applauding a doping
Mark Overseas, Part 3
Headlined the sports section of Reforma in Mexico City: !MCNIFICO!
CADDIE, THE 007-IRON, PLEASE
At the British Masters last week, the communications company
One2One asked golfers to name the person with whom they would
most like to have a conversation. Colin Montgomerie's reply?
Bond. James Bond. "Although only fictional," said Montgomerie,
"he's a role model for anyone who aspires to traveling the world
in fast cars and planes." We're stirred, if not exactly shaken,
by that response.
WRONG IN THE LONG RUN
NFL Films has declared Garrison Hearst's 96-yard touchdown ramble
on Sept. 6 the "greatest run ever." Senior writer Paul Zimmerman
doesn't exactly agree.
Hearst's run, which gave the San Francisco 49ers a 36-30 overtime
win against the New York Jets, displaced, in the mind of NFL
Films president Steve Sabol, the game-winning 49-yarder by the
Niners' Steve Young against the Minnesota Vikings 10 years ago.
Yes, I know that, by merely discussing Sabol's proclamation, I'm
giving it legitimacy. But as a football historian, I'm outraged
on a number of levels.
Even using two of Sabol's criteria for a great run--"situation" in
the game and season and "impact of the run on the game"--Hearst's
run doesn't measure up to Young's. Hearst's gave San Francisco a
1-0 record. Young's came with 1:58 left in a crucial Week 9 game.
The 49ers finished 10-6 that year and went on to win the Super
Bowl. Had they lost to Minnesota, their 9-7 record would have
kept them out of the playoffs. Talk about importance.
As for the runs themselves, Hearst broke a tackle at the line,
broke another halfhearted attempt at a tackle downfield,
stiff-armed a rookie free safety to the ground and just kept
going. Pretty good run, but nothing like Young's spectacular
display, in which he kept reversing his field and breaking
tackles until you said, My god, he can't keep doing this. When he
finally crossed the goal line, you were slack-jawed.
I've seen other such runs, astounding dashes by Barry Sanders,
Willie Galimore, Jim Brown, Hugh McElhenny and Emerson Boozer,
runs that just left you scratching your head in disbelief. Lots
of them. Hearst's? Not in their class.
EVERYBODY INTO THE POOL!
Casey Zalewski is a man with a dream. A retired printing
executive who lives in Milwaukee, Zalewski, 62, is the founder of
the Billiard Club of America (BCOA). In Zalewski's vision (and he
sees it all laid out in his mind like a perfect bank shot) the
BCOA will transform competitive pool in the U.S. from a
hodgepodge of tournaments among hustlers in brocade vests into a
television-friendly sport modeled on golf's PGA Tour.
Zalewski has devised an intricate format for BCOA events,
featuring coed teams of nine players each vying in games of nine
ball, eight ball and straight sequence pool. Tournaments will be
played over four days ("Like golf," Zalewski says), and
statistics will be kept ("How many 9 balls made on a break, say;
it'll be just like home runs in baseball").
Beyond that, Zalewski wants to make the game as wholesome as an
episode of Touched by an Angel. Zalewski, who says he's "not much
of a player," has framed a 10-point code of ethics for the BCOA.
Among the pledges each player must make: My morals will never be
in question; I will not use to excess alcohol, drugs or tobacco;
I will keep my mind in top condition so that when I am
interviewed, I can speak intelligently and bring honor to my
profession; and I will stay out of the eye of controversy.
We'll bet that put a little backspin on Minnesota Fats in his
--That the PGA Championship be moved to the fall, so the golf
season not die so soon.
--That having won his 300th, Joe Paterno spend his dotage
bringing Happy Valley mojo to hapless Prairie View.
--That 22-year-old Lindsay Davenport's Open win shows ageists
that there's life after the teens.
Score, in penalty kicks, by which U.S. women's soccer star Mia
Hamm defeated Boston Red Sox shortstop and former high school
standout Nomar Garciaparra in an exhibition.
Consecutive losses by Zippy Chippy before the 7-year-old gelding
was banished from the Finger Lakes racetrack in Farmington, N.Y.
Student petitioners from Seminole High in Pinellas County, Fla.,
who wrote Florida coach Steve Spurrier asking that he use a
different name for the position of offensive tackle since "the
rules prevent [the tackle] from legally tackling."
Players (Karol Kucera) ranked in the Top 10 that Pete Sampras has
beaten this year.
Winners of tennis's Grand Slam tournaments this year, only the
fifth time in 73 years that each of the four men's and women's
events has had a different champion.
Salary, in dollars, that former Detroit Lions coach Wayne Fontes,
who has filed for worker's comp because of ailments he says were
caused or worsened by coaching duties, got in 1996, the final
year of his contract.
Are Red Sox Fans Facing Another El Foldo ?
On Aug. 26, Boston led Toronto by 12 1/2 games in the American
League wild-card hunt. On Monday the lead was three. Why? The
Blue Jays are young and hungry with a scary one-two starting
punch of Roger Clemens and Kelvim Escobar. The Sox look like an
old horse limping to the glue factory; after Pedro Martinez, the
rotation has three tired arms. George Santayana was off: The Sox
can't forget the past, but they're doomed to repeat it anyway.
New Englanders shouldn't start swan-diving off the Hancock
Building just yet. The Red Sox were still the league's
second-best pitching and third-best hitting team through Sunday,
and they'll finish the season with eight games at friendly
Fenway. These Bosox were in grade school 20 years ago--they're too
young to be unnerved by past collapses. The Red Sox may still
break your hearts, Boston fans, but they'll do it in October, not
before. --Stephen Cannella
Through Sunday Randy Johnson, who will be a free agent after this
season, was 8-1 since the July 31 deal that sent him from the
Seattle Mariners to the Houston Astros. Still, when the Big Unit
decides where to play in 1999, he shouldn't let his smokin' start
make him feel too cozy in the National League. Four starting
pitchers in this century have jumped leagues in midseason and won
at least seven of their first 10 decisions for their new team
that year. To varying degrees, all of them found the new league
less friendly the second time around.
Pitcher*, New Team Fast Start Following Season W-L
Shane Rawley, 1984 Phillies 7-3 13-8 (3.31 ERA)
John Candelaria, 1985 Angels 7-3 10-2 (two months on DL)
Rick Sutcliffe, 1984 Cubs 9-1 8-8 (three trips to DL)
Woodie Fryman, 1972 Tigers 8-2 6-13 (5.36 ERA)
*Minimum 100 starts before switch Minimum 15 starts
They got next? They got hurt. The news last week that former
Atlanta Hawks forward Christian Laettner (currently a free agent)
and Olympic 100-meter champ Donovan Bailey had each ruptured an
Achilles tendon in pickup basketball games reminds us that not
even the big names are immune to the perils of the playground.
Here's a look at some of pickup hoops' fallen heroes.
Ruptured right Achilles at alma mater, Duke, on Sept. 10
Might still be on crutches when NBA lockout ends; hasn't helped
Ruptured left Achilles warming up at Toronto gym on Sept. 9
Underwent surgery two days after injury; erstwhile world's
fastest human faces slow rehab
Randy Moss, Minnesota Vikings receiver
Sprained right ankle two days before Minnesota's minicamp on May 1
Judging by his 10 receptions in two games, has fully recovered
AJ Kitt, U.S. Skier
Tore ligaments in left ankle in November 1992
Made Olympic team as downhiller in '94 and '98; Won world bronze
Thurman Thomas, Buffalo Bills running back
Tore up left knee at Oklahoma State after sophomore season in
summer of 1986
Hampered in junior year but finished seventh in Heisman race;
has 11,439 pro yards
Al Gore, Vice President
Ruptured left Achilles in White House gym in 1994
Greatly hindered mobility, but who noticed?
THE JORDAN WATCH
Agent David Falk says Michael wants to return, but fellow North
Carolina alumnus Jerry Stackhouse says, "I think he's gone." Stay
THIS WEEK'S SIGN THAT THE APOCALYPSE IS UPON US
Two months after being acquitted of fraud charges in New York
City, Don King took a group of the jurors from his trial on an
all-expenses-paid weekend jaunt to the Bahamas.
MORE THAN 17,000 high schools and 1,500 colleges will field
athletic teams this fall, so it will be tough to keep tabs on
your alma mater and its rivals. In the spirit of the season here
are some sites--two to help you be true to your school, one where
you might actually learn something--to scan when you should be
The College Sports News Daily has feature stories, game summaries
and schedules for every NCAA division and sport, as well as links
to athletic departments and student newspapers at hundreds of
The on-line version of All-Stater Sports, a national scholastic
sports magazine, has All-America listings, rankings and
state-by-state championship results in every sport. Check out the
recruiting section for news on tomorrow's college stars and tips
on how to get noticed by big-time schools.
Find out what's really happening on the field at this San
Francisco museum's sports science site (above), where you'll
learn the physics behind curving baseballs and sliding skates,
and why your muscles are so achy after yesterday's workout.
sites we'd like to see
Chat room dedicated to the army of pro football backup
quarterbacks suddenly pressed into service.
On-line forum for Veterans Committee voters who want Maris
enshrined in the Hall.
on his nasal passages: "They had to take a piece of bone out of
my head in order to rebuild my nose. It was kind of a pain in the