The questions asked by the coaches were loaded, but they seemed eminently pertinent to a majority of members. Among them were the following:
"Are you satisfied with the method the AAU uses to select coaches for foreign trips (i.e., where one man accepts nominations from AAU committeemen only, takes a postcard vote, counts and announces the selection)?"
"Are you in favor of the present method of selecting Olympic coaches (whereby the AAU appoints an Olympic Committee, the members of which are allowed to vote for themselves)?"
"Do you think it would be better if the National Collegiate Track Coaches Association selected coaches for foreign trips?"
For or against?
The final question, and the most far-reaching one, was in the form of a ballot. "The National Collegiate Track Coaches Association of the United States, acting through its executive committee," it read, "hereby announces the formation of the United States Track and Field Federation, an organization composed of track coaches, friends of track and field and athletes. Are you in favor of the organization, or opposed?"
According to Bowerman, one of the principal reasons for the widespread dissatisfaction with the AAU is the fact that the organization is controlled by a small group of men in New York and New Jersey. "They seem to be more concerned with perpetuating themselves in power than with the development of track and field," Bill Easton, coach of the University of Kansas track team, said recently. "This has become a political operation—in the selection of coaches for foreign trips, in the selection of sites for track meets and certainly in the selection of AAU officials. We've had the same ones ever since I can remember."
Dan Ferris, who is now the paid honorary secretary of the AAU, is a case in point. Ferris was made honorary secretary several years ago, after having served as secretary-treasurer of the organization for 30 years. Surely no more restrictive bylaw was ever drafted than the one that created the post of honorary secretary—for Ferris alone. Paragraph IV of Section 1 of the bylaws of the AAU reads: "The Honorary Secretary shall be elected by ballot by a majority vote at the annual meeting of the Board of Governors in the year 1957, and quadrennially thereafter, provided that one [the honorary secretary] must have been employed by the Union for a period of 50 years and shall have served at least half of that period as Secretary-Treasurer of the Union."
Columnist Max Stiles commented in the
Los Angeles Mirror, "Doesn't this kind of limit the field? The only man in the world who can qualify for the job as Honorary Secretary of the AAU under this astounding, fantastic restriction is Daniel J. Ferris. If he...stays on the job for another 21 years, Jim Simms [the present secretary-treasurer] might eventually make it. Ferris has complete jurisdiction over all American track athletes going abroad for international competition. It is also this same man who has complete control over whether foreign athletes may compete in this country, and, if so, in which meets they may participate. He is unimpeachable, unremovable and cannot be replaced...."
Bowerman, long an outspoken critic of both Ferris and the AAU, feels that the handling of requests for American athletes to compete abroad has not only been slow but often capricious.