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RETURN OF THE BARON
Adolph Rupp, who at 71 was obliged to retire last year as head basketball coach at the University of Kentucky, quickly moved into the professional ranks as president, no less, of Charles O. Finley's Memphis Tarns in the ABA. It seemed heretical for Rupp, a longtime bastion of the college game, to join the pros, but the old Baron says this isn't so at all. In fact, he says his greatest contribution to professional basketball so far has been a move to protect the colleges from pro raiding. At the ABA's first meeting this year, he says, he and Finley helped persuade the league to adopt a resolution declaring it would not draft college underclassmen.
"I know some people have questioned my joining the pros after all my years of blasting their tactics, but I justify it by what I can get done to help the colleges."
And, of course, the nonraiding rule would do a lot to stabilize the professional game, too.
JULIUS ALL OVER
Stabilization is something professional basketball has a remarkably short supply of. The latest example is the flitting about of Julius Erving, who was signed by an agent after his junior year at the University of Massachusetts. The agent offered Erving to the New York Nets, who said no, and to the Virginia Squires, who said yes. After he completed his rookie year in the ABA last spring, Erving jumped to the Atlanta Hawks of the NBA. Meantime, because his class had graduated, he was subject to the NBA draft and was tapped by the Milwaukee Bucks, and the NBA board of governors subsequently ruled that he belonged to Milwaukee rather than Atlanta. Neither Erving nor Atlanta agreed.
Last weekend the comedy of confusion reached all sorts of highs. Virginia played an exhibition game in Springfield, Mass., not far from the University of Massachusetts, which it had originally scheduled with the idea of showing Julius off to the home crowd. But Julius was in Frankfort, Ky., defying the NBA ruling by playing with Atlanta against the Kentucky Colonels. It is possible, if unlikely, that various legal actions could result in Erving playing exhibition games against the Colonels in three different uniforms ( Atlanta, Virginia, Milwaukee) before the regular season begins. Since in his Atlanta guise Julius played 42 minutes, had 28 points and 18 rebounds, the very idea is enough to give the Colonels nightmares.