Use a Scalpel, Not an Ax
Title IX need not be a death sentence for men's minor sports
In the major universities' continuing efforts to comply with the
letter of Title IX but not the spirit, two more teams have been
put out of business by their schools. The Brigham Young men's
gymnastics team and the Miami men's swimming and diving team,
each of which has a rich tradition of success, are being
sacrificed to meet the standard of proportionality. That's the
part of Title IX stipulating that the ratio of female to male
athletes on campus--and the resources allotted to them--must
closely mirror the ratio of female to male students. So many
universities have euthanized successful men's programs in recent
years that news of the latest casualties made as small a ripple
as a dive by Greg Louganis (All-America, Miami, 1979).
Optimists say schools are merely dragging their feet where once
they dragged their knuckles. But a study published in the April
7 Chronicle of Higher Education indicates that the colleges are
more intent on making small steps toward gender equity than in
achieving the goal itself. The 311 schools in the study are
narrowing the proportional gap in the overall number of athletes
(42% are women) and in the budgets for scholarship dollars
(42%). However, the wide disparity in the dollars spent on
programs' underpinnings--recruiting budgets (31% spent on
women), coaching salaries (34%) and total operating expenses
(33%)--implies that there's plenty of fat to trim in men's
sports before a school has to cut its swim team.
The way to enhance women's sports without killing men's programs
is as obvious as it is politically unpalatable: arms control
talks. Football coaches insist that the 85-scholarship limit is
their absolute minimum. They might be believed if their
predecessors hadn't said the same thing when the number was 105
and again when it was 95. Coaches say any further cuts will
affect the quality of the game, a standard important only to
them: As long as Michigan beats Ohio State, no one with a bureau
full of maize and blue cares about scholarships. If football's
limit were 75, those 10 extra scholarships could keep alive a
minor sport or two. Having seven football assistant coaches
instead of nine could pay for two swimming coaches. There might
even be enough to spare to keep the pommel horses out of
mothballs. --Ivan Maisel
Thin Gray Line
Army's losing the battle to stay competitive
George Armstrong Custer, West Point class of 1861, whose remains
are buried at the academy, had a seemingly better chance against
Sitting Bull than Army athletic director Rick Greenspan does of
restoring to glory a sports program best described as
The West Point men's basketball team, which sent coaches with
names like Knight and Krzyzewski into the hoops world, finished
1999-2000 at 5-23, its 15th consecutive losing record, and wound
up 307th of 318 teams in the RPI. The Cadets drew only about 800
per game in the 5,000-seat Christl Arena. Worse, Don DeVoe, a
former West Point assistant who was passed over for the head job
back in the '60s, has led Navy to seven straight winning seasons
and three consecutive victories over the Cadets.
As of Monday, Army's baseball team was 11-12-1 and trying to get
over the departure of coach Dan Roberts (son of Hall of Fame
pitcher Robin Roberts), who resigned on March 14, days after
being arrested for driving while impaired by alcohol. Roberts's
record over 14-plus seasons: a middling 282-295-5.
The Cadets' football team, once among the grandest in the land,
was a mediocre 44-55-1 in nine seasons under Bob Sutton. On Dec.
6, a day after Army's 19-9 loss to Navy, Sutton was fired on the
street outside the Cadets' Philadelphia hotel. He had been on
the staff since 1983 and was a national coach of the year
candidate as recently as '96, when Army went 10-2.
Beyond the predictable reason for the Cadets' struggles--the
shrinking pool of scholar-athletes willing to make the requisite
sacrifices to play at a military academy--West Point also lacks
first-rate athletic facilities. Greenspan believes a $30 million
addition to Michie Stadium (paid for by boosters, not taxpayers)
will help turn things around when it's completed in 2002.
Greenspan, who had success at Illinois State, is serious about
putting Army sports back on track. He requires every coach to
complete a self-evaluation form that covers such topics as
competitiveness, fund-raising and media relations. He values the
school's heritage--one thing he praises about Todd Berry,
Sutton's replacement, is that Berry is a military history
buff--and evokes a pantheon of Army heroes when he talks about
setting the Cadets on a winning course. "Eisenhower, Patton,
Blaik, MacArthur, Krzyzewski," says Greenspan. "Those are not
Neither, though, was Custer. --Robert H. Boyle
Messages from The Dead
Psst! Want a Mickey Mantle autographed baseball? It was signed
The FBI estimates that forged-autograph memorabilia accounts for
at least half and possibly as much as 90% of the $1 billion
sports collectibles industry. The Bureau's San Diego field
office was set to announce this week the results of an
undercover sting targeting fake-autograph dealers. The feds set
up a front called the Nihon Trading Company in Oceanside,
Calif., and although it was no more authentic than the Mother
Teresa-autographed baseball the operation uncovered, it fooled
members of a nationwide ring whose allegedly incriminating
statements now fill more than 1,000 FBI audio tapes. According
to the FBI, one dealer discussed selling memorabilia "just
signed" by the late Wilt Chamberlain.
Last October the feds obtained some 60 search warrants in five
states and used them to seize enough signed balls, photos and
other items to fill a small warehouse. Government prosecutors
were still negotiating with lawyers for the accused forgers, but
the charges that could result from the sting include conspiracy,
mail and wire fraud, money laundering, racketeering and
trafficking in counterfeit goods. "Some of these people justify
their actions by saying, 'If the buyer still gets joy out of the
item, what does it matter if it's fake?'" says FBI special agent
Jan Caldwell. "It's heartless."
The FBI says Tony Gwynn and Mark McGwire were among the athletes
who assisted the government by identifying poor imitations of
their signatures. A word to collectors: Before you plunk down a
bundle for that authentic Shaquille O'Neal-signed lobster bib,
better have Shaq eyeball it.
An Uproar Down Under
What host country wouldn't feel uneasy? They're arriving soon,
those crotchety aunts who look under beds, sniff inside
cupboards and just can't bear to keep a couple of cockroaches or
hair balls to themselves. They're nearly here, the world media
coming to cover the Summer Olympics--15,000 crotchety aunts
always on the lookout for dirt.
Five months before the start of the Summer Games, that
uneasiness turned to pit-of-the-gut dread in Australia last
week. Just when the country's house seemed nearly in
order--Olympic venues virtually completed, streets and sidewalks
renovated, economy booming and dust finally settling over Games
tickets covertly snatched from the public allotment so they
could be quietly sold at fat prices to the rich--damned if
somebody didn't open the one closet jammed with Australia's most
Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Herron made the blunder when he
submitted to a Senate committee a report that debunked as myth
the stolen generation, the term used for the legions of
Aboriginal children taken from their parents and placed in white
foster care and institutions from 1910 to '70. The report, which
was supported by Prime Minister John Howard and reflected
government wariness over potential compensation claims, stated
that the numbers of those affected had been greatly exaggerated
and had never exceeded 10% of the Aboriginal population, which
currently stands at 300,000 in a nation of 19 million. "There
was never a 'generation' of stolen children," the submission
stated. "[T]he treatment of separated Aboriginal children was
essentially lawful and benign in intent."
Outrage was immediate and widespread, especially among a
minority for whom the stolen generation stands as a symbol of so
many thefts and so much pain since the arrival of whites in the
late 1700s. Aboriginal activist Charles Perkins, who was taken
from his family as a child, threatened violence during the
Olympics: "Burning cars and burning buildings. Reconciliation is
finished now. We are not going to lie down like a mongrel dog so
people can come along and kick us. We are going to start biting."
"All bets are off," declared Lyall Munro of the Metropolitan
Aboriginal Land Council. "Aboriginal people will rise up and
show the world how racist Australia is."
The ill-timed Senate submission re-ignited smoldering Aboriginal
fury over the recent suicide of a 15-year-old boy serving a
28-day sentence for stealing oil and paint worth $30, under
mandatory sentencing laws that exist in the Northern Territories.
It remains to be seen how effective Aborigines might be at
trashing Australia's house during the Olympics, especially since
the country's greatest hope for gold in track and field,
400-meter world champion Cathy Freeman, an Aborigine, voiced her
view two months ago that politics should be left out of the
Games. But recent events have hardened resolve to shame the
Games with marches and the opening of a shadow embassy in Sydney
to expose world media and VIPs to poverty-devastated indigenous
communities and to statistics showing that Aborigines earn half
as much and live an average of 20 years less than other Aussies.
The threat of a public relations disaster, along with a possible
fracture within his Liberal Party, had Howard racing around with
bucket and broom last week. He persuaded the chief minister of
the Northern Territories to end mandatory sentences for
juveniles who commit minor crimes and issued a half-baked
apology to those offended by the submission.
Meanwhile, hundreds of Bondi Warriors threatened to chain
themselves to bulldozers and prevent construction next month of
the final Olympic venue, the temporary beach volleyball stadium
planned for Sydney's most famous crescent of sand, Bondi Beach.
Government and Games officials could only groan, look out their
windows at Sydney's sparkling harbor and eccentric white-roofed
building, and hope to distract the crotchety aunts with ferry
rides and opera. --Gary Smith
Looking for a reason why the out-of-nowhere Czech Republic Davis
Cup team nearly toppled the seemingly invincible Americans,
anchored by Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi, last weekend? Maybe
the Czechs were motivated by pique. Before last Friday's singles
matches the anthem played to honor the visitors was that of
Czechoslovakia--a country that dissolved in 1993 into the Czech
Republic and Slovakia. "Next time the U.S. comes to the Czech
Republic," said Czech player Slave Dosedel, "we will play the
MISADVENTURES AT SEA
Fished Out Of Water
When a Korean fishing boat rescued 42-year-old British solo
rower Andrew Halsey last week 1,200 miles southeast of Hawaii,
he had not eaten in two weeks, his last munchie having come
after a serendipitous run-in with a flying fish. Halsey, who was
nine months into a planned eight-month, 7,500-mile trip from San
Diego to Sydney, had exhausted his food supply after being
delayed by unfavorable weather off the coast of Mexico.
Halsey's salvation came just three days after a Portugal-bound
ship scooped up French rower Jo Le Guen a third of the way into
a planned 5,580-mile voyage from Wellington, New Zealand, to
Cape Horn. Le Guen was reportedly delirious and suffering from
poor circulation in his feet. Three of his toes were black when
he was found.
Also last week, the Trans-Atlantic Windsurf Race had to be
canceled after the Canary Islands Coast Guard pulled four
members of the five-man U.S. team out of the ocean several
hundred miles from port. The Americans were aboard their 35-foot
support boat--which was towing the disabled support vessel of
the Brazilian team--when the U.S. craft was swamped in high seas.
If rowing or windsurfing across an ocean sounds crazy, consider
Remy Bricka of France. On March 4, Bricka, 50, began what was to
be a six-month "walk" from Los Angeles to Sydney on pontoonlike
skis, towing behind him a catamaran carrying tracking and
communication gear, a makeshift bed and, among other foodstuffs,
22 pounds of sauerkraut. When the Coast Guard picked up
Bricka--30 miles off the California coast only a day into his
water walk--his tow had been flooded in 18-foot swells. The
indomitable Bricka is planning to try again later this month.
When, he says, God carried him through his house shortly after
his first chemotherapy treatment in February 1999, the Braves'
Andres Galarraga thought he was about to die. He wasn't, and now
he's back on the diamond after lymphoma sidelined him for a
year. The Big Cat hit three game-winning homers in Atlanta's
first five games, including a grand slam last Saturday against
the Giants, proving that for some, life begins at 38.
Times Colombian cycling hero Oliverio Rincon has been abducted
and released by leftist rebels this year.
Proposed top fine for violating airspace over Olympic venues
during the Sydney Games.
Big league game ever in which each team hit back-to-back-to-back
homers: Sunday's Twins-Royals game.
World hockey championship tickets offered to Russians who help
clean up host city St. Petersburg.
Penalties in Sunday's Red Wings-Avalanche game, the first
infraction-free NHL match since 1980.
--The new shot clocks atop the baskets at Reunion Arena, thanks to
a fan who E-mailed Mavericks owner-in-waiting Mark Cuban to note
that a three-sided configuration would let fans see the
24-second clock no matter where they're sitting.
--A British billboard campaign by lingerie maker Berlei, featuring
tennis vixen Anna Kournikova clad in the firm's Shock Absorber
sports bra. The ad's slogan: only the ball should bounce.
--Bledsoenet.com, by the Patriots' Drew Bledsoe. The internet
service provider offers @bledsoenet.com E-mail addresses and the
option of filtering out unwanted sites. Said Drew of the latter,
"I'd like to have some certainty and comfort that [two-year-old
son] Stu can't [someday] pull up porno and bomb-making recipes."
--Vince Carter, at being given jersey number 9 for the U.S.
Olympic team, the same digit Michael Jordan wore in the 1984 and
'92 Games. "He hates it," a source close to Carter, who's weary
of comparisons with MJ, told The Toronto Star. "He'll do
anything to not wear that number."
--As inappropriate, ads for Fox Sports Net's Sports Geniuses
quiz show, from FSN-affiliated Madison Square Garden Network.
The offending spots depict, among other things, a cross-dresser,
a woman breast-feeding and wolves having sex.
Garden State Varieties
New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman is peeved at the
Giants' plan to restore their retro NY helmet logos--after all,
New York has played in her state for 25 years. Drawing on New
Jersey icons, we offer a selection of logos sure to please the
This Week's Sign That the Apocalypse Is Upon Us
UPN is developing a show for next fall with the working title
Spike, in which Daisy Fuentes and Lisa Rinna lead a group of
female undercover operatives who pose as beach volleyball
coaches' salaries and football scholarships.
Kings assistant, who as a Laker missed the 1989 NBA Finals
because of a torn hamstring: "Next to playing in Vancouver for a
season, that was the most painful experience of my career."