TEMPEST IN TEXAS
The fine line between being a responsible citizen and a reprehensible informer is under considerable discussion, much of it passionate, in the state of Texas. Two Texas A&M freshman basketball players, Karl Godine and Jarvis Williams, were suspended by the Southwest Conference last month for violating recruiting rules. The talented pair, who had been all-state when they played for state champion Kashmere High in Houston, were said to have accepted cash bonuses, the use of new automobiles, gifts for their parents and other illegal inducements. The players, protesting their innocence, went into court and obtained an injunction against the suspensions, pending a rehearing of their case by the conference's faculty committee. In court it came out that the alleged recruiting violations had been called to the conference's attention last September by Leon Black, basketball coach at the University of Texas.
The Texas coach was vilified by A&M supporters, who claimed that the fierce rivalry between the two schools had prompted Black's action. He was called a stool pigeon. He received abusive phone calls at three o'clock in the morning. At basketball games A&M students altered their traditional cheer to "Beat the hell out of Leon Black" instead of using the name of the opposing team.
At the rehearing last week, the charges against Godine and Williams were upheld by an 8-1 vote, Texas A&M casting the only dissenting ballot. The players were suspended for the rest of this season and all of next, although they will retain their scholarships. Texas A&M was punished, too; the number of basketball scholarships it is allowed to give annually was reduced from five to four for the next two years.
Where did this leave Black, who still bore the brand of informer? Should he have looked the other way?
Darrell Royal, athletic director at Texas, says, "Leon told me, 'I said to those kids during recruiting that they would be investigated whether they went to Texas A&M, the University of Texas or wherever.' " The conference, in a formal statement, thanked Black publicly and commended him "for performing his mandatory duty," a commendation that seems well deserved.
A few days later, denying that his decision had been prompted by publicity rising out of the suspensions, Leon Black resigned as basketball coach at Texas.
SKY'S THE LIMIT
When in 1953 Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became the first men to climb Mount Everest, they probably did not appreciate how much money they were saving by getting there before the crowd. Now that the world's highest peak has become a tourist attraction, Nepal charges a fee for an expedition to the top from Katmandu, and in fact has just upped the ante from $800 to $1,200. That's a real price hike.
The Montreal Olympics seems to have turned one of those mythical corners. Work on the stadium is moving ahead, and words and phrases such as "disaster" and "postponement" and "plans for alternate sites" are heard less frequently. In their place are more traditional pre-Olympic news stories, notably those that dwell with relish on minor catastrophes that don't really matter at all.