A PRESIDENT STEPS DOWN
In a move related to the uproar at his school over special academic favors for athletes, University of Georgia president Fred Davison resigned last week, effective July 1. Davison, 56, who has held the job for 19 years, had come under fire because of revelations at the Jan Kemp trial (SI, Jan. 27 et seq.) that Georgia had admitted academically deficient athletes and bent rules to keep them eligible in its developmental studies department. In recent weeks, some 200 Georgia students and faculty members had called for his resignation, as had the school's student newspaper.
But Davison's decision to quit was by no means an acknowledgment of blame. On the contrary, he stepped down in anger after Georgia's Board of Regents voted to delay renewal of his contract until full review of an investigation into the developmental studies department. That action, which Davison called "a personal and professional insult and a questioning of my integrity," was taken after the board saw a preliminary report on the developmental studies program that some members found shocking: Two of them said they feared the revelations could jeopardize the university's accreditation.
Since the Kemp trial, both Davison and Georgia athletic director Vince Dooley have tried to downplay the preferential academic treatment given Bulldog athletes. In an op-ed piece in The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Dooley insisted that Georgia turns away some academically unfit athletes and that in academic matters the university is committed "to go the extra mile to help each athlete to help themselves [sic]." However, he didn't adequately explain why Georgia had bent its academic standards to admit and keep unqualified athletes, nor did he clearly say that such practices were wrong, nor could he offer assurances that they wouldn't happen again.
For his part, Davison has said that Georgia is no worse than others in maintaining low standards for athletes. He has also tried to shift responsibility for the situation to Georgia public schools. Of the kind of academically unqualified athlete who has been admitted to the university, he said, "We don't create that student, we receive him." Davison's resignation was just one more move on his part to avoid accepting blame himself.
A DEPRESSED MARKET
Nick Brown was offering the kind of backhand only money can buy—and the kind of forehand, serve and volley. The 24-year-old Brown, a promising and obviously enterprising British player, hoped to underwrite his life on the expensive men's tennis tour by selling 16 one-year shares of himself at �1,000 ($1,458) each. At the end of each season, Brown's winnings, exhibition payments and endorsement money were to be divvied up. Each shareholder, Brown promised, would get a sixteenth of the take up to a maximum of �2,000. Any further profit would be kept by Brown. It seemed like such a bright scheme. But the buyers just never materialized, and Brown, rather than risk a net loss, is spending 1986 teaching at a tennis club in London.
MORE PALATABLE POLO
Polo for the masses? That's the lofty—or actually, lowly—aim of the National Polo League, an improbable six-team operation that has just galloped onto the sports scene. Currently in its inaugural seven-week season, the NPL plays all its games in Palm Beach, Fla. but has nakedly expansionist aims. Because it uses three players instead of four and a smaller field, it offers a faster, rougher and higher-scoring brand of polo designed to "make the sport more palatable to the average guy," in the words of Palm Beach Polo Club chairman William T. Ylvisaker, the league's founder. He adds that NPL-style polo "lends itself naturally to television coverage, which we hope to attain."
Crowds of 6,000 have been showing up at Ylvisaker's club each Sunday to watch teams designated as representing such tony outposts as Greenwich, Conn. and Palm Beach, as well as Dallas, Fort Worth, Florida and New York. The audiences aren't made up of your day-at-the-polo-match fans. "They're everybody," says Patricia Fulk, marketing consultant. "They pay $4 each. They eat popcorn. They scream and yell." Ylvisaker hopes to bring about more screaming and yelling by eventually moving play to Los Angeles, Chicago, St. Louis and Boston. "That will expose the game to a larger segment of the population," he says. But making polo appear plebeian may not be so easy. Around the NPL's playing grounds there are insignia from such upscale sponsors as Cadillac, Piper-Heidsieck champagne, and Rolex and Piaget watches.
EVERY RECEIVER IS COVERED
Duke University has drawn on football for fund-raising purposes in a different way. Needing a centralized working area with a large number of phones for its current phone-a-thon, the school has set up headquarters in the press box at Wallace Wade Stadium.