THE HAYWOOD CASE (STILL CONT.)
One day the case of Spencer Haywood, who was signed—some say prematurely—from college into professional basketball, will be resolved. In the meantime not many pragmatic solutions have been offered. It would seem to be a violation of free enterprise to deny a college player the privilege of going into the pro game before graduation, or whenever he likes. Why should an athlete with unique skills be prevented from selling them in the marketplace because of a self-serving and possibly illegal agreement between the colleges and the pro leagues? On the other hand, to permit unlimited signings of college athletes might come close to destroying college sports as we now know them (SI, March 29).
Now comes Ted O'Leary, a student of sport and jurisprudence, with a suggestion. O'Leary would set up a national commission consisting of representatives of the pro leagues, the NCAA and its member institutions and, most important, representatives of two groups largely overlooked by the sports bureaucracy—the athletes and their parents. Head the commission, O'Leary says, with someone beholden to neither the colleges nor the pros. If a college athlete believed he had a valid reason to sign with a pro team he could apply for permission to the commission. The latter would elicit all pertinent facts—such as whether the athlete or members of his family were truly suffering financial hardship, his chances for professional success in sport without additional college experience, whether the athlete had the innate intelligence to profit from a college education, and so on. The commission then would rule.
To contend that this would deprive the athlete of an education overlooks the fact that he could always go back to college in the off season and work for a degree, as some pro athletes now do. He would have his own money to pay for his education and he could concentrate on his studies far better than when forced to spend several hours a day going to football and basketball practice and attending squad meetings.
As it is, all too few college athletes graduate. The protestations of the college people about the pros robbing college athletes of their chance for an education would go down better if the college people gave more effort to seeing that their athletes got their degrees.
NEW GOALS FOR HOCKEY
Professional hockey is approaching its particular educational problem with far more concern for the individual. Hockey players are traditionally inducted into the game even before their 'teens and soon have but little time for school. Many players in the National Hockey League lack high school diplomas. Now the NHL is taking a long step toward repairing the situation.
So that the players may complete or at least further their education without interfering with their hockey careers, the league has worked out special arrangements with the University of Ottawa, which will offer two six-week courses each summer. Players may complete high school, take a college preparatory course or take college courses which will earn credits toward a degree. There will be courses in public speaking and business management which will be noncredit but will be prerequisites for all other courses. Cost of tuition, room and board will be shared equally by the players and their teams.
Clarence Campbell, league president, called the move "the most significant thing we've done since the institution of the pension plan."
You scored a goal that time, Clarence.