Minding the Store
Did Virginia, under Dick Schultz, break NCAA rules?
Since Dick Schultz became executive director of the NCAA in 1987, he has preached a gospel of institutional control over college athletic programs. Now there is reason to question whether he has always practiced what he preaches.
Schultz was the athletic director at Virginia from 1981 to '87. For the past year that school has been investigating allegations that between '82 and '90 the Virginia Student Aid Foundation (VSAF) reportedly made 36 interest-free loans totaling $12,600 to athletes, coaches and other members of the athletic department. The VSAF is an independent foundation whose purpose, according to its charter, is to "provide financial aid for deserving and qualified student-athletes and to improve the quality of UVa athletics." In other words, the VSAF is a booster club. If its loans were not made available to the student body as a whole, they were in violation of NCAA regulations prohibiting special benefits for athletes.
Last week Schultz told the Richmond Times-Dispatch, "I knew nothing about, nor approved, any student loan during my tenure." However, Ted Davenport, a former VSAF executive director who approved many of the loans in question, has been quoted as saying that Schultz should have known everything that was going on. Also, during his last two years at Virginia, Schultz served as the VSAF's executive vice-president, receiving $10,000 in compensation annually. According to a former VSAF official, Schultz assumed the post so that the athletic department could have more control over the booster group.
While Schultz may not have known about VSAF loans to athletes, he was definitely aware of another VSAF loan. Schultz has confirmed that he received a $200,000 housing loan from the VSAF and the University of Virginia Alumni Association in 1981. This loan—at an annual interest rate of 5% when the rate in the Charlottesville area was about three times that—was not against NCAA rules, but when an athletic director receives money from a booster club, questions arise. What if the club is engaged in practices that are against NCAA rules, and the athletic director is indebted to the club? Might he be tempted to look the other way?
Through a spokesman, Schultz declined to comment to SI last week, but in October he told the times-Dispatch that he didn't discover the loans to the athletes because "there weren't very many of them" and the amount involved was "insignificant." How would the NCAA look upon an athletic director who used similar excuses in his defense? —RICHARD DEMAK
Jerry Tarkanian will test the waters of the NBA
When San Antonio Spur owner Red McCombs fired high-profile coach Larry Brown at midseason, he made one thing clear: He wanted to hire another high-profile coach. No recycled head guys or promising assistants for McCombs. So last week he went out and got a coach, Jerry Tarkanian, whose profile is off the scale.
But does the 61-year-old Shark have what it takes to succeed in the NBA? The quick answer is that he seems to have prepared himself in two ways during his years at UNLV: His Runnin' Rebels ran as if the college game had a 24-second clock, and he inspired intense loyalty among his players. But those things don't necessarily matter in the NBA. On the court, the professional game is much more about exploiting matchups and executing with the shot clock ticking away than it is about outrunning the opposition. Off the court, the factors upon which Tark could always rely for team unity—the Rebels' battles with the NCAA and the perceived prejudice of a press and public that occasionally doubted his, ahem, educational mission at UNLV—won't be available. In San Antonio, Tark will face a much different situation. As veteran Detroit Piston coach Chuck Daly, himself a former college coach, says, "Dealing with NBA players is like dealing with 12 individual Fortune 500 companies. Every single day."
This may come as news to Tarkanian, but in San Antonio he won't be the show, because like all NBA coaches, he'll just be an opening act. Without Billy Packer and Dick Vitale to hype them, pro coaches just haven't developed the cult of personality that their collegiate counterparts have.