In recent weeks the NCAA has reduced penalties it previously had imposed on 1) Pitt defensive back Teryl Austin for accepting $2,500 from agent Norby Walters; 2) Auburn quarterback Jeff Burger for being bailed out of jail by assistant coach Pat Sullivan; and 3) Minnesota quarterback Rickey Foggie for receiving a loan of a plane ticket from assistant coach Larry Beckish. Austin, Burger and Foggie had at first been declared ineligible this season for their infractions, but, upon appeals, Burger had his entire eligibility restored, and Austin and Foggie were given two-game suspensions. The decisions, which were all made by the Eligibility Committee, seemed to indicate a more lenient—some would say more understanding—attitude on the part of the incoming NCAA executive director, Dick Schultz.
Apparently, though, the right hand of the NCAA does not know what the left hand is doing. Last week a different group, the Academic Requirements Committee, denied an appeal by Iowa State in the case of freshman volleyball player Tracy Graham. Her crime? She took the ACT college entrance exam on a date not approved by the NCAA. Graham, a B+ student at North Scott High School in Eldridge, Iowa, scored far above the NCAA-required minimum for freshman eligibility. But she had taken the ACT in July of '86 because she was competing for her track team in the shot put on a nationally approved testing date in April of that year. The NCAA requires that prospective athletes take the ACT on national testing days so it can better monitor the results.
Graham, a three-time all-state player, had no idea that she was jeopardizing her college eligibility. "We're just sick about this," said her mother, Julie Graham. "We had no idea there would be a problem." When asked to comment, Schultz pointed out that it was the fault of Graham's high school advisers and Iowa State athletic officials, who should have informed her of the NCAA rules.
Bill MacLachlan, the women's volleyball coach at rival Drake University, was outraged. "I guess you have to get bailed out of jail by your coach, accept money from agents or take illegal loans from coaches to be able to get your eligibility back," wrote MacLachlan in a letter to The Des Moines Register. "This is a senseless tragedy that leaves me disgusted, mad and wondering Why?
Why? One hesitates to think that it's because Tracy Graham does not play big-time college football. For now, blame it on the inconsistencies inherent in the labyrinthine committee structure of the NCAA.
RUNNING FOR OFFICE
More than 500 runners raced toward the "bureaucratic red tape" in last week's seventh annual Nike Capital Challenge in Washington, D.C. The three-mile race to benefit the Special Olympics aims to determine "who is fittest, the Legislative Branch, the Executive Branch, the Judiciary or the Media." Twenty-nine senators and representatives and 13 federal judges took part. However, three members of Congress decided they would not run, let alone serve, and walked instead.
The fastest senator was Montana Democrat Max Baucus, who ran as a member of a team called the Baucus Caucus and finished in 19:48. Rhode Island Republican Claudine Schneider of the Rhode Runners won the title of Fastest Woman in the House for the third straight year. The hottest competition, though, was for the title of best team name. The winner was McDonald's Golden Arches, captained by Kim McDonald of the Chronicle of Higher Education. Also-rans in the name category included Taxation Without Hesitation from the IRS and—our favorite—Legs Mees�rables from the attorney general's office.
WASN'T HE A CARDINAL?
Mike Sadek, a former catcher for the San Francisco Giants, was in Candlestick Park last Friday for the visit of Pope John Paul II and arranged to have the Pontiff autograph a baseball. Which the Pope did, signing it "JP II."