Tournament directors are turning to corporate sponsors to underwrite their increasingly splendiferous events, hence the McDonald's Classic in Honolulu, the Dr Pepper Classic in Dallas and the Arby's Classic in Bristol, Tenn. Some competitions have even found the holy grail: TV money. ESPN paid $3,000 to televise the 1987 King Cotton, and most tournaments have local TV deals.
As the tournaments have become more glamorous, worries about them have grown. Nine of USA Today's top 25 teams are private schools, most of which are freer to engage in recruiting than public schools are. With national rankings and tournaments in exotic locales putting a higher premium on winning, the temptation for schools to go ever farther afield to get players—and to pay them—is that much greater.
Another danger is articulated by Travis Creed, founder of the King Cotton Classic, which is staged by a nonprofit club. Creed worries that tournament promoters might be tempted to entice top-ranked teams by giving under-the-table payments to coaches and to school administrators. "The concern I have is that we'll see the same corruption that we have in college basketball," he says.
THE TALL MEN'S BIKE SHOP
Golden State Warrior center Ralph Sampson had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee last week and will be off the court for perhaps four weeks. He'll be off his new bike for a while too.
That's too bad, for it's a bike the 7'4" Sampson dreamed of. He has always enjoyed riding but never felt comfortable on a standard-sized cycle. So last summer, while he was home in Virginia, he took his problem to Craig Mauck of AAA Rearview Bicycle Repair in Harrisonburg. Mauck agreed to build him a bike. He used custom-made gears and constructed a huge frame. He fashioned pedals that would accommodate Sampson's size-17 feet. When he finished "the world's largest mountain bike," as Mauck calls his creation, the cost had reached Sampsonesque proportions—$3,000.
Mauck says the cycle will be perfect for a large athlete on the rebound: "It will definitely help with Sampson's rehab. People his size—their knees take a pounding. For a big man, a bike like this, which won't put stress on those knees, is much better than, say, running." Mauck plans to hit all 25 NBA teams with that sales pitch.
CLARITY AT LAST
When the NCAA convenes in San Francisco next week it will almost certainly approve the adoption of a revised and improved rule book. The new NCAA Manual is cleaner than its predecessor, if not leaner. With the introduction of graphics and the use of larger type, the new book is actually bigger than the old one. That manual was so disorganized and imprecisely worded that athletic administrators either couldn't find the rules they were looking for or couldn't understand what the rules meant when they found them. "We simplified some strange language," says outgoing NCAA president Wilford S. Bailey, who chaired a five-person team that rewrote the book. "One financial-aid interpretation was explained in a single 180-word sentence. Now it's broken into I can't remember how many paragraphs." The new user-friendly manual is clear in both prose and presentation. It even has flow charts explaining how an athlete goes from crime to punishment.
Bailey expects the revisions to lead to further streamlining of the rule book. "The members will operate for a while with these simpler rules, and they'll be able to determine whether we need them all," he says. "I bet they'll drop some at future conventions."