THE TARKANIAN DECISION
It has taken more than 11 years, but the NCAA has finally made its point. The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 vote, ruled Monday that the NCAA acted with proper authority in 1977 when it, in effect, ordered the University of Nevada. Las Vegas, to suspend basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian for two years for flagrantly violating NCAA recruiting rules, encouraging individuals to impede an NCAA investigation by giving false information, certifying that his program was in compliance with NCAA rules when it wasn't and failing to exhibit high ethical standards. Tarkanian obtained a court order blocking the suspension and stayed on the job, enjoying as much success as any college coach in the country (page 46) while the issue was argued in the courts.
Tarkanian won all the early rounds. In 1987 the Nevada Supreme Court upheld a lower-court ruling that the NCAA had violated Tarkanian's constitutional rights by denying him due process. Tarkanian's lawyers pointed out that many of the NCAA's member schools, including UNLV, are state-supported institutions and are therefore governmental bodies. They further argued that because of its association with those schools, the NCAA should be deemed a governmental body too and hence be subject to the myriad constitutional limitations imposed on government interference with individual rights.
But the U.S. Supreme Court, which has the last word, disagreed. "The NCAA is properly viewed as a private actor at odds with the state when it represents the interests of its entire membership in an investigation of one public university," wrote Justice John Paul Stevens.
The decision apparently freed the NCAA to once again order UNLV to suspend Tarkanian and, presumably, to close down the Runnin' Rebels' basketball program if the school sticks by its earlier refusal to comply. Whether or not the NCAA will still try to punish Tarkanian, the decision generally strengthens the organization's hand in disciplining member schools. Of potentially even greater importance is what the decision might mean for the NCAA's efforts to impose drug tests on college athletes. Suddenly the legal minefields surrounding such tests seem less treacherous.
Donald Trump, whose Trump Organization owns Trump Tower, Trump Pare, Trump Plaza and the site that will become Trump Place in New York City, announced last week that he will promote a 10-day bicycle race that will pass in view of the Trump Castle Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City before finishing in front of the nearby Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino.
Trump, skipper of the Trump Princess, probable owner of an airline to be christened the Trump Shuttle, and author of Trump and Trump: The Art of the Deal, said he bristled when organizers first suggested that next May's race be named after him: "I said, 'You absolutely must be kidding.' "
They weren't, of course, and so Trump agreed—reluctantly—to lend his name to the nationally televised Tour de Trump.