Contestants and fans of a feather flocked to Deming, N.Mex., two weeks ago for the eighth annual Great American Duck Race, a three-day wingding featuring tortilla tosses, the Duck Queen Ball and lots of duck races. The one duck that proved it was all it was quacked up to be was the topically named Oliver South, a 4-month-old mallard that breasted the tape in the final with a time of 1.23 seconds for the 15-foot course. Oliver is owned and trained by Robert Duck, a distributor of Indian jewelry from Bosque Farms, N.Mex.
Duck—the man, not the web-footed friend—rules the roost when it comes to duck racing. Eight years ago race promoters went to great lengths looking for possible participants named Duck, and this particular one took to racing like, well, a duck to water. He developed a "stable" that now numbers 44 ducks and claims six of the last eight Great American winners.
Six of the eight finalists on Aug. 23 were trained by Duck. For Oliver's performance in the final, Duck walked away with $2,000, not exactly duck feed. "I threatened to put him through the shredder if he didn't win," said Duck.
The NCAA made a curious move last week. Its eligibility committee said that Pitt defensive back Teryl Austin, who had been declared ineligible because he accepted payments from agent Norby Walters, would be suspended for only two games if he returned the money to Walters and proved that he no longer had contractual obligations to the agent. On the heels of that announcement came the NFL's postponement of a supplemental draft for ineligibles Cris Carter of Ohio State and Charles Gladman of Pitt (SCORECARD, Aug. 31).
The NFL was clearly doing a favor for the people who provide it with a free farm system. The colleges want to avoid a supplemental draft that could lead to an NBA-style draft. But is the NCAA so afraid of losing a few underclassmen that it would compromise its principles? By forgiving a player who broke the sacrosanct rule against accepting money, the NCAA left itself wide open to charges of hypocrisy. Not too long ago, the NCAA suspended Indiana basketball star Steve Alford for one game because he posed for a calendar for charity.
The NCAA evidently has an even greater fear that Carter, Gladman and Austin are only the tip of the iceberg. Steve Morgan, the director of enforcement and compliance for the NCAA, told SI's Armen Keteyian that the committee was "mindful of more than the Austin case. They were aware of what's going on with agents."
By giving Austin an out, the NCAA may have been trying to head off a widespread scandal. But in so doing, it undermined its own credibility.
Jerry Lewis, the entertainer and national chairman of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, has sent a telegram to this magazine in response to our story on Western Carolina football coach Bob Waters's fight against amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (The Battle of His Life, Aug. 24). "That was a truly superb piece you did on my friend Bob Waters," says Lewis. "But it contained one slip. You said ALS 'has never inspired much fund-raising zeal.' The MDA has been knocking itself out for decades raising funds to beat ALS. Your article also said that if ALS researchers had $25 million, it could be cured. Your readers can help make that happen in one day—Labor Day—through our telethon." Lewis notes that Waters, a vice-president of the association, will appear on the telecast.
OUT OF THEIR (LITTLE) LEAGUE