ON AGAIN, OFF AGAIN
Only a month ago the NCAA took a welcome step toward reality by updating its rules to allow an athlete to remain an amateur in one sport even if he is a pro in another (SCORECARD, Jan. 21). In other words, an athlete at an NCAA school who signs a contract, say, to play professional football, can compete in track and field.
But there's a hooker here, as demonstrated by the sad case of James McAlister, football and track star at UCLA. Last week McAlister signed a multiyear contract with the Anaheim franchise of the World Football League and looked forward to continuing in track. Holder of the world's best long-jump mark (27'�") last year, he had already competed in two indoor meets this season. But the day after McAlister signed to play football the NCAA declared him ineligible. Why? Because an agent negotiated the contract, and the NCAA has another rule saying that while an athlete may consult an agent for advice, the athlete becomes ineligible if the agent actually negotiates on his behalf.
"It's really stupid," says a disconsolate McAlister. "How is anyone with no knowledge of contract negotiations supposed to deal with men who have spent their lives doing that?"
THE WORLD VIEW
Jack Nicklaus, who won $308,362 in official U.S. purses last year, was golf's leading money-winner of 1973, right? Wrong, says Mark McCormack, golf's leading money manager. For eight years McCormack has been publishing an annual, The World of Professional Golf, reflecting his belief that the U.S. tour is no longer the alpha and the omega of the sport, that the rest of the world is considerably more than a satellite to the PGA tour and that any true ranking must include all the world's major competitions.
On McCormack's world money list for 1973 Nicklaus takes second place, $21,025 behind Tom Weiskopf's $349,645, the most ever earned by a golfer. Back in 1972, when Nicklaus won $341,792, McCormack predicted, "No one will break Jack Nicklaus' money record for many years, at least 10, maybe more...maybe never." But Weiskopf played five tournaments outside the U.S. last year, four of which Nicklaus skipped. He won three—the Canadian and British Opens and the South African PGA—and he also picked up some loose change here and there at the Piccadilly World Match Play in London and the John Player International in Scotland.
There are other portents to be found in the expanded money list. For instance, the No. 6 man, behind Weiskopf, Nicklaus, Bruce Crampton, Lanny Wadkins and Lee Trevino, is Japan's Jumbo Ozaki with $203,002. And Ozaki is not necessarily to be considered Japan's best player. Isao Aoki won more tournaments and, while scarcely venturing off the Asian tour, earned $140,709, which makes him No. 11 on the world list. The 11th man on the PGA's list was Hubie Green with $114,397.
Of course, money isn't everything, in golf as in life. Nicklaus, for instance, had a better stroke average than Weiskopf—69.8 vs. 70.2. But guess who was third on the world list? Jumbo Ozaki—70.4. All right, so stroke average isn't everything either, unless everyone plays on courses of equal quality, but it does appear to be time to begin looking beyond our own borders. When the Japanese tour produces nearly $2 million compared to the PGA's $8.6 million, we have a trend on our hands. A yen or a pound or a franc is as "official" as a dollar, and a golfer is a golfer anywhere.
Most sports publicity men accentuate the positive, but not Jim McLemore, publicist for the sad sack Houston Oilers. McLemore issued a release the other day reviewing individual and team records for 1973, and 11 of the 14 marks were on the negative side. Among the categories were fewest games won, fewest points, most fumbles, fewest first downs, most touchdowns allowed and so on. Is honesty the best publicity?