Jacque Vaughn is a true role model. It's good to see that not every scholarship athlete wings it through college.
MICHAEL ROTH, PLAINVIEW, N.Y.
As a graduate of the University of Kansas who is currently a law student at New York University, I was thrilled to see you spotlight an athlete for his deeds outside of the arena (The Diary of a Student-Athlete, Feb. 13). Kansas point guard Jacque Vaughn is what every college student should aspire to be—dedicated, diligent and focused. What makes Vaughn so unusual is that he is as consistent off the court as he is on it. Much of the credit must go to Kansas coach Roy Williams for recruiting athletes who either have already proven themselves as students or show great promise. His approach has cost the school a few gifted athletes but allows him to field a team of which one can be truly proud.
JAMES MOLONEY, New York City
The Big Five
I thoroughly enjoyed Jack McCallum's The Philadelphia Story (Feb. 6). It was refreshing to read about five terrific college basketball programs that cherish their rivalries not for national ranking or TV exposure, but out of a sense of tradition and honor.
BONEY IVES, Charlotte, N.C.
As a Villanova graduate, I read the article with interest and fond memories. And in many respects I agree that the Big Five deserves better from Villanova. However, anyone who thinks that Villanova left the Big Five to fatten its schedule with cupcakes is crazy. Villanova's schedule is usually rated among the 10 most difficult Division I schedules in the nation. I can take the criticism for what we did to the Big Five, but I can't take the innuendo about our schedule.
DENIS W. DRISCOLL, Montville, N.J.
You spun a neat but illusory story: Villanova got too big for its britches and spoiled a local tradition. The truth is that the other four schools play in weak conferences, with the result that every Big Five game is like the national championship to them. On the other hand, Villanova has won the real national championship. When it gets the luxury of scheduling a breather between battles against Georgetown, Syracuse, UConn and the rest of the Big East, it is entitled to play a team that hasn't flagged the Villanova game as the make-or-break contest of the season.
If the other members of the Big Five played Villanova's schedule, they would have choked on their Philly cheese steaks—and their self-righteousness—long ago.
LARRY GOANOS, New York City
When Villanova pulled out of Big Five full round-robins back in '91, it certainly wasn't to play more "national" games. The Big Five opponents have been replaced by schools like Marist, Delaware and Rider. Villanova has passed up more than 35 years of wonderful basketball tradition to pad its schedule with two easy games in order to ensure 18 wins and a bid to the NCAA tournament.
DOUG WAITZMAN, Wallingford, Pa.
The Man in Black
Thank you for the article on my choice for the 1994 Sportsman of the Year, Dale Earnhardt (Attitude for Sale, Feb. 6). In a period lacking role models, Earnhardt is an excellent example of impeccable consistency as well as a no-nonsense approach to his sport. As the article says. he gives 110% of himself in the race car as well as out of it. He is always quick to recognize his pit crew after a victory and his fans for their support.
STEPHEN SCHOUTEN, Williamsville, N.Y.
Why the cheap-shot reaction to Digger Phelps's announcement that he intends to run for president in 2004 (SCORECARD, Feb. 6)? Notre Dame's former basketball coach is a smart guy, smart enough to know that the declaration of his intent would be greeted in some quarters with sarcasm and ridicule. But that fact notwithstanding, why did SI treat the matter in such a mean-spirited way? Is Phelps's running for president any more improbable than a movie star's running? Since he stepped aside after 20 years as the best basketball coach in Notre Dame's history, a record resplendent with a 100% graduation rate for his players, Phelps has devoted much of his time to working with inner-city kids. What others only talk about, Phelps has done—on his own time and with his own money.
As a former press aide to Bobby Kennedy and a former press secretary to two U.S. senators, I consider Phelps's dream neither wild nor improbable.
GEORGE S. MITROVICH, San Diego