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THE END OF THE AAU
Tex Maule
September 25, 1961
Here is the first report of a secret revolution that seems certain to wreck the all-powerful Amateur Athletic Union. Coaches and athletes in two major sports are involved, among them 50 of the most distinguished U.S. track and field stars
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September 25, 1961

The End Of The Aau

Here is the first report of a secret revolution that seems certain to wreck the all-powerful Amateur Athletic Union. Coaches and athletes in two major sports are involved, among them 50 of the most distinguished U.S. track and field stars

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"I've been corresponding with Arthur Lydiard ever since the Olympic Games," Bowerman said recently. (Lydiard is the coach of the New Zealand team that won two gold medals at Rome.) "I got a letter from him the other day in which he asked me to find out what had happened to his request for four American athletes to compete in New Zealand this winter. He mailed the request to Ferris in April and he has not heard a word yet. But that's typical. When I wrote for permission for Dyrol Burleson to go to New Zealand last year, I got the clearance from Ferris after Burley had already run in two meets in New Zealand."

The AAU has, in the past, been reluctant to give U.S. athletes permission to compete abroad during the winter months. Ferris turned down an application from the Amateur Athletic Union of Australia for six American athletes to compete during the Australian season. One must presume only that the Australian season conflicts with the big indoor meets in the East. Arthur J. Hodsdon, honorary secretary of the Australian group, wrote Dick Bank, after this incident:

"It is a fact that, over many years, our approaches to U.S. athletes through the AAU have been singularly unfruitful. We do feel that we have been shabbily treated, and the AAU was told just this in plain terms some time ago...."

Disenchantment of the athletes with AAU management stems from a number of sources. Bobby Morrow, the U.S. triple-gold-medal winner in the 1956 Olympics, says: "The $15-a-day expense account permitted athletes by the AAU is completely unrealistic. Let the AAU officials try and live like athletes, and they wouldn't waste any time trying to do something about it. On this kind of money the officials would have to cut out some of their cocktail parties."

Poor accommodations

Al Oerter, Olympic discus champion, voiced another of the big complaints of the athletes after the AAU championships at Randalls Island this summer. Oerter, along with eight other of the best U.S. athletes, refused to take the foreign tour sponsored by the AAU this summer. Said Oerter: "I don't want any trips where the AAU is concerned. They give you the run-around and the accommodations—for the athletes—are terrible."

The AAU is notorious for its egregious scheduling and the miserable transportation facilities it provides on foreign trips. The most recent case, which included four European meets in 16 days, was typical. Before the team left, Oliver Jackson, one of the assistant coaches, demanded that additional long-distance runners be taken. "I'll stay home if necessary," Jackson told Pincus Sober, the chairman of the AAU track and field committee. "You can use my seat for another runner. But if you do, I'd like to know why Dan Ferris is making this trip."

"Dan is tired," Sober said. "He's been working hard. He needs a rest."

Possibly the worst example of mismanagement by the AAU, according to the rebellious coaches and athletes, occurred with the Olympic team of 1960. Pursuing a jet schedule with prejet equipment, the athletes flew to Europe on a propeller plane which took 14 hours, competed in Bern, Switzerland immediately after their arrival, then were crammed six to a compartment in a train that meandered down the length of Italy through the summer heat, taking some 14 more hours to arrive at Rome.

"I was lucky I didn't have to run until late in the Olympic Games," says Max Truex, who is America's best competitor at 10,000 meters. "The guys who had to compete early died. We didn't qualify anyone in the 5,000 meters or the half mile. And the guys got eliminated on times and distances that were far less than their best."

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