The time and the season suggested the lines that Hatton wrote to begin his essay on Secretariat at the close of that incomparable Triple Crown season:
"Weave for the mighty chestnut
A tributary crown
Of autumn flowers, the brightest then
When autumn leaves are brown
Hang up his bridle on the wall,
His saddle on the tree,
Till time shall bring some racing king
Worthy to wear as he!"
THE PRESIDENTS RESPOND
The NCAA Presidents Commission recommended some bold—and welcome—reforms at its two-day meeting in Kansas City, Mo., last week: shortening the basketball season and spring football practice, granting need-based financial aid to academically deficient freshman athletes, and requiring that schools report their athletes' graduation rates. All these proposals will be voted on at the full NCAA convention in Dallas in January.
The presidents' action was wrought in desperation. A recent barrage of bad news—including a congressional study that showed negligible graduation rates in many football and basketball programs, as well as the presidents' $1.75 million study of college sports, which ended up being nothing less than a scathing critique (SI, June 19)—was harsh proof that the system was failing. Then last week U.S. News & World Report released the results of a poll showing that 86% of college presidents and deans believe that big-time athletics encumber their efforts to attain educational goals.
Senator Bill Bradley (D., N.J.) and Representative Tom McMillen (D., Md.) are among the cosponsors of a bill stipulating that colleges annually report the graduation rates of athletes. The Presidents Commission's graduation-rate proposal, which is essentially the same thing, was an attempt to stave off federal action. Martin Massengale, chancellor of the University of Nebraska and chairman of the commission, expressed hope that adoption of the presidents' proposal at the January convention would preclude "further need for federal legislation."
Despite the obvious virtues of these measures, they will face rugged opposition at the NCAA convention, where the presidents' recent initiatives have been defeated. Massengale says there may be a roll-call vote in Dallas. That would effectively reveal where each school stands—behind improved conditions or the discredited status quo.
THE BEAR MARKET
Twenty years ago, the Minnesota Twins had to give up four frontline players to pry righthander Luis Tiant, along with another pitcher, Stan Williams, away from the Cleveland Indians. Even now, at 48 (or so), El Tiante commands an outlandish sum. Just ask Russ Berrie, owner of Miami's Gold Coast Suns of the Florida-based Senior Professional Baseball Association. Berrie recently had to come up with 500 teddy bears to obtain the rights to Tiant from the Winter Haven Super Sox.
The Suns, you see, had no player the Super Sox wanted. And because Berrie sells gifts, he always has a sizable sloth of bears on hand. "We wanted to get something positive for Luis," says Sox owner Mitchell Maxwell, who will be giving the teddys away as a Christmastime promotion. At first Berrie struck the deal for a mere 300 bears, but when erroneous reports leaked that the trade had cost him 500, Berrie decided to up his ante. "It was for a good cause," says Berrie. "Besides, Tiant is worth more than 300 teddy bears."