No one is happier about that than Cincinnati's eight limited partners, each of whom owns between 6% and 13% of the Reds. Several have expressed contempt for Schott—in 1991, four of them took her to court over distribution of club profits, a suit that was settled out of court—and all have been embarrassed by her string of insensitive and racist public utterances. "It's a positive step for the franchise," minority owner George Strike told the Cincinnati Post last week. Adds another limited partner, William Reik, "Mercifully, the focus can now shift to where it should have been all along—the Cincinnati Reds ball team."
But even as Schott's fellow owners exult in her departure, some are unnerved by the power that the 12-member baseball executive council, which is chaired by acting commissioner Bud Selig and includes both league presidents and nine other owners, is exercising over the Reds. Selig has pledged that National League president Leonard Coleman will monitor Schott's hand-picked interim successor, team controller John Allen, on a daily basis to make sure Schott doesn't meddle in team business, and he also has pledged that in 60 days he, Coleman and Schott will settle on a permanent CEO to run the Reds. One unnamed Cincinnati partner is reportedly threatening to sue baseball if the minority owners are not given more control.
The American Civil Liberties Union has broader concerns, about the taking of someone's job for inappropriate statements. "In this case it seemed easy because of the nature of the things she said," says Ira Glasser, the ACLU's executive director, "but suppose an owner campaigns for, say, same-sex marriages or relaxed immigration laws, and other owners don't like that?"
But Schott's case is extreme, and there is no doubt her actions were not in "the best interest of the game," which the council is obliged to protect under baseball's Major League Agreement. Schott has embarrassed her sport and her team with a pattern of appalling behavior, ranging from her comment that she would "rather have a trained monkey work for me than a nigger," to a reference to one of her players as "my million-dollar nigger"—comments primarily responsible for her being suspended by baseball for one year in '93—and her assessment last month that "Hitler was all right in the beginning." Yes, baseball's governors must be careful when exercising their power to limit owners' public opinions. But this one was a no-brainer.
With Fans like These...
After admitting his role in the killing of four show horses so their owners could collect $570,000 in insurance money, trainer Barney Ward, 56, was sentenced last week in U.S. district court in Chicago to 33 months in jail. However, he got the start of the sentence deferred until Sept. 16 because he wants to watch his son, McLain, compete for the U.S. show-jumping team at the Atlanta Olympics.
McLain goes into Sunday's final round of the U.S trials tied for the fourth and last spot on the team. Even if McLain qualifies, his father would likely have to overcome objections by the American Horse Show Association, which has barred him from being present at any of its events, including the trials. If he does get close, we hope he gets kicked.
Hopeful Signs in the NCAA
Last week NCAA executive director Cedric Dempsey removed his shoes and socks and dipped his toes into treacherous waters. He suggested at a meeting of college athletic directors that the NCAA might consider compensating student-athletes, either by making low-interest or no-interest loans available to them, or by allowing the athletes to accept money from a trust fund that would be tied to their share of endorsement monies.
A related topic of conversation—and consternation—at the meeting was the June 3 admission by All-America basketball player Marcus Camby of Massachusetts that he had taken thousands of dollars in gifts from agent Wesley Spears before and during the 1995-96 season. Camby would almost certainly have been stripped of his remaining year of eligibility had he not already decided to enter next week's NBA draft. Calls for change by the NCAA invariably follow some sort of embarrassing revelation, and the news that the national player of the year, respected as a straight shooter on and off the court, broke the rules is just such a revelation.