THE VIEW FROM THE BENCH
Boosters and agents who give money to college athletes do so secure in the belief that, while such action violates NCAA rules, it's not against the law. But last month a U.S. District Court judge in White Plains, N.Y., delivered a sobering message to NCAA rule-breakers. In a ringing endorsement of amateurism in intercollegiate athletics, Chief Judge Charles L. Brieant made clear his view that, even in the absence of criminal or, to date, civil penalties in such cases, the court should not look kindly on under-the-table payments to college athletes.
Brieant delivered his surprisingly strong opinion in dismissing a $500,000 lawsuit filed by New York agents Norby Walters and Lloyd Bloom against former Auburn fullback Brent Fullwood, who had accepted $8,042 from Walters during his senior year but later bolted to another agent. Arguing that NCAA rules against professionalism are "rationally related to the commendable objective of protecting academic integrity of NCAA member institutions," Brieant wrote that "American colleges have struggled, with varying degrees of vigor, to protect the integrity of higher education from sports-related evils such as gambling, recruitment violations and the employment of mercenaries whose presence in college athletics programs will tend to preclude the participation of legitimate scholar athletes."
Although Fullwood, now with the Green Bay Packers, won in court, Brieant came down just as hard on him as he did on Walters and Bloom. "Both sides of the transaction knew exactly what they were doing, and they knew it was fraudulent and wrong," Brieant wrote. The secret deal between the two agents and the player, he added, "represented not only a betrayal of the high ideals that sustain amateur athletic competition as part of our national educational commitment; it also constituted a calculated fraud on the entire spectator public."
Brieant acknowledged that this public trust was "perhaps naive." But there was nothing naive about his conclusion that his court would not enforce a contract "between thieves."
THAT WAS SOME DRIVE
Golfer Greg Norman moved from Orlando to North Palm Beach, Fla., to be close to the ocean. After settling in, the man called the Shark took up scuba diving. On a recent dive in 40 feet of water a mile and a half from shore, he found a golf ball. Know anyone with an immense hook?
Among the anglers competing at the Red Man Regional Bass Classic on Lake Seminole in Georgia were Fred Guppy of Jacksonville, Ark., Johnny Bass of Lexington, N.C., and Mike Wurm from Hot Springs, Ark. Their names didn't help them much: Guppy finished 31st out of 101 entrants, Bass 21st and Wurm 18th.
JUST HAVING FUN
Remember Damon Bailey, the precocious eighth-grade hotshot who figured prominently in John Feinstein's A Season on the Brink, the 1987 best-seller about Indiana basketball coach Bob Knight and his team? Remember how, in Feinstein's account, a doting Knight journeyed 60 miles round-trip to take in one of Bailey's games and raved about the kid on the drive home?
Well, after leading Bedford North Lawrence High to the Indiana final four with a 23.8 average as a freshman last season, all Bailey, who's now 6'2", has done so far this season is score 31.3 points per game in leading the Stars to a 9-0 record. In a 70-65 defeat of New Albany on Dec. 15, Bailey had the best game of his brief career: He scored a school-record 43 points on 18-of-22 field goal shooting (he missed his first three tries and then made 18 in a row) and 6 for 6 from the line. He also had 10 rebounds and four steals.