It certainly is ironic that your article about Marquette (Get Da Shoodah, Said Faddah, Feb. 21) and its fabulous center, Jim Chones, should appear at the same time Chones decided to sign a pro contract with the ABA. I must admit ignorance concerning his financial needs but, desperate case or not, it is time to put the brakes on the ABA. By conducting a campaign to deliberately remove college basketball players from their college teams the ABA is debasing the sport.
I am not blaming Chones for his decision because I am unaware of his motives. But the ABA has only one motive: to get the jump on the NBA and attempt to aid its own financial position by obtaining ballplayers prematurely at the expense of the college game.
I know there must be a signer to the glorious contract, and it is not the ABA that writes the player's signature, but there would not be a contract if the ABA did not wave it in the air for all fine college basketball players to see.
The ABA has to be slopped before it does any more damage. How can the ABA talk of a merger and still practice this disrespect to college teams, coaches and fans?
While reading your article on a fine Marquette team, I heard over the radio that Jim Chones had signed with the New York Nets. Quite a blow to Marquette fans, but even more of a blow to the coaches across the nation who have spent money and countless hours recruiting such players only to have them lured away by the raiding ABA. Since the merger between the two leagues is not in sight, perhaps the ABA would like to send one of its teams to the NCAA playoffs.
Chapel Hill, N.C.
Until the ABA and NBA merge, it is inevitable that there will be more cases of college players signing before they have finished their college eligibility. As long as basketball players go to college only as an apprenticeship for pro ball, they will naturally leave school as soon as it is advantageous to do so.
But there might be an alternative to this chaotic situation even without a merger. What if both pro leagues instituted farm systems as baseball has? Young men graduating from high school could turn pro immediately and learn their trade in the bush leagues instead of at State U. They would not have to pretend to be legitimate students, and State U. could admit one marginal student who does not play basketball for each non-student athlete who does not matriculate there. Then if a young man wants to attend college between basketball seasons, he will have to make the grade on his own. The athletic department will not be there to convince professors to give him passing grades he does not deserve.
If this were to happen in football and basketball, colleges might de-emphasize both sports to the extent that the colleges become more institutions of higher learning and less sports franchises.
RAYMOND S. THOMPSON
South Bound Brook, N.J.
Frank Deford's article concerning Pete Dawkins (All-America, All the Way, Feb. 21) is in my opinion a truly great article. The attention given to the nonathletic aspects of Major Dawkins' life is much needed during a day and age when some find it difficult to justify the rising cost of athletics in light of unsportsmanlike trends.
However, I must disagree with one analysis of Major Dawkins. Mr. Deford states that surely Dawkins would have reached his estate, that of "the most highly regarded young officer in the Army," had he never played a down of football. I contend that it was the same intangible motivation that caused Pete Dawkins not only to play football but to excel that provides him with the ability to be one of the Army's best. I believe that the inner drive that caused Major Dawkins to become an All-America is the same motivation that causes him to be an All-America in life.