UP AGAINST THE LAW
The NCAA, a stickler about having the letter of the law obeyed, especially its own, has been running up against the law itself lately. A boosters group at the University of California filed suit against the national collegiate organization for putting California on probation. It argued that the ruling was invalid, arbitrary, capricious, contrary and discriminatory, and that it has seriously hurt the group's efforts to raise funds for the university. The probation came after sprinter Isaac Curtis helped California win the 1970 NCAA track championship. Curtis had failed to take tests required under the NCAA's 1.6 rule, which has to do with the evaluation of a scholarship athlete's scholastic potential. The NCAA therefore deemed him ineligible and subtracted his points from California's total, which cost Cal the championship it had won on the track. The school refused to go along with the ineligibility ruling ( Curtis' grades have been acceptable, and he is playing football this fall), even though this means it is barred from championship competition and postseason games, and its wins and losses are expunged from Pacific Eight Conference standings.
Meanwhile, in Tulsa a few weeks ago a court ordered the NCAA not to punish either Texas or Oklahoma if their football game was telecast over regular channels in that city. But NCAA officials warned both schools that they could be held accountable if they allowed such a telecast. Oklahoma President Paul Sharp decided the university would not sanction a telecast of the game. A contempt charge was then filed against NCAA officials for threatening to interfere with the court order. A few days later NCAA attorneys apologized to the court, saying the organization had intended to comply with the order and that the apparent failure to do so was the result of a mix-up in communications. The contempt citation was held over for a year to give the NCAA time to review its rules in order to make them flexible enough to handle exceptional situations, like TV in Tulsa when Oklahoma plays Texas.
NO STILL LIFE
Ken Harrelson, the baseball player who is trying to become a pro golfer, failed in his first attempt to earn a PGA tournament player's card. Part of his trouble, he says, is controlling his temper: "On one hole I had a 110-yard pitch shot, and I hit it 60 yards. I got so mad I almost blacked out. I keep thinking I've got a baseball bat in my hands. I'm trying to kill the ball, hit it over the fence. I've got to fight it every round." Yet Harrelson admits that he likes the idea of a golf ball sitting there politely and not moving until you tell it to. Remembering his baseball days, he says, "It's hell when you stand there 60 feet away from a guy who's trying to decide whether or not to drill one 100 mph right between your teeth."
Football players are by tradition conservative and apolitical, but about 50 members of Michigan's undefeated team have signed a petition asking that the halftime show at Michigan's game this Saturday with Indiana be devoted to antiwar themes. Campus antiwar groups circulated the petition, and star Running Back Billy Taylor said, "I don't know anybody who saw it who didn't sign it." Quarterback Tom Slade commented, "I'm more conservative than 90% of the students. I'm pro-Nixon. But I signed with the intention that I'm against the war."
Several of the players announced that they would flash peace signs or clenched fists as they left the field for the half-time intermission. Coach Bo Schembechler said, "Let's consider it an individual matter. All I can say is the players don't decide what goes on at halftime."
When the petition came to the attention of University President Robben Fleming, he referred it to Athletic Director Don Canham. Canham declared, "I'm not surprised. Who the hell is in favor of the war anymore?" But he added that the athletic department did not determine the content of the half-time show. That was up to the band, which voted to stay with the nonwar theme it had been rehearsing. This prompted an antiwar student to say, "Unless the band turns over three or four minutes of its 12 minutes of music time, there'll be two halftime shows going on at the same time."
And so it goes. One thing is certain. There won't be too much trouble getting the crowd to pay attention to this halftime entertainment.