1) At Arizona State, senior linebacker Stacy Harvey took an ASU correspondence course in history in hopes of regaining the scholastic eligibility he had lost after flunking a statistics course. But since the late '70s, when several Sun Devil players got credits from a bogus mail-order school, Arizona State has prohibited its athletes from taking correspondence courses—even from ASU.
Since Harvey had violated university rules, faculty athletic representative Marianne Jennings, a professor in the business school, declared him ineligible. No problem. Except that Arizona State president J. Russell Nelson overturned the decision, apparently concerned that the rule wouldn't stand up to a lawsuit and explaining that Harvey's advisers should have helped him follow procedures, and so it wasn't all his fault.
Hogwash. Which is exactly how Jennings saw it. She quit as faculty rep with a flaming rebuke of Nelson. "Whoever comes into this job would have to be a real fool not to see the writing on the wall," she said.
2) At Auburn, quarterback Jeff Burger was charged with plagiarism and the school's Academic Honesty Committee recommended a suspension. He subsequently got into a fracas at four o'clock one morning at a local fast-food restaurant and was charged with being drunk and carrying a concealed weapon.
The drunk charge was dropped, and Burger pleaded guilty to the weapons charge and paid a $50 fine plus $32 in court costs. The recommended suspension was rejected by Auburn's vice-president for academic affairs, Warren Brandt, who said, "It seems to me that Mr. Burger had really been punished by the extensive press coverage.... He's suffered enough." The facts of Burger's plagiarism case are complicated, and the 4 a.m. fracas may be irrelevant to his football eligibility, but Brandt's assertion that Burger has suffered enough because of press coverage is even further from the point.
What seems clear is that both Nelson and Brandt were determined to keep star players in uniform and in doing so have dealt a blow to the integrity of their schools. They've sent out the wrong signals on the proper relationship between academics and football. Auburn football was rewarded on Saturday, as Burger led his team to a 31-3 victory over Texas, passing for 269 yards—the highest game total of any Auburn quarterback since Pat Sullivan in 1971.
DRESSING FOR SUCCESS?
In Kansas State's 91 years of playing football, its most memorable accomplishment is its amassing the losingest major-college record in NCAA history. Almost nothing works for the "Mildcats," who are a dismal 299-490-39. But you've got to hand it to them: They keep on trying. "This is a tough job," says coach Stan Parrish, who was 2-9 in 1986, his first season. "It's tougher than even I had envisioned it." Then, like all his predecessors, he swears he'll get the program flying right.
For one thing, Parrish made sure that the home team's locker room at KSU Stadium at least looks like the home of winners. Parrish, who described the old dressing room as "a loser's heaven," this summer personally oversaw construction of a new facility and had it painted Wildcat purple. It already has been dubbed Hotel Parrish.
The face-lift was complete when K-State players showed up last month. "When they saw it, they were shocked," says Parrish. "Number 1, they didn't expect it to be done on time, and Number 2, they didn't expect it to be done right. They're used to things not getting taken care of around here. It's that attitude we're trying to get rid of."