THE AAU AT BAY
In its fourth and perhaps most important set of public hearings, the 10-month-old President's Commission on Olympic Sports examined the NCAA and AAU last week in Chicago. The airing of familiar charges and controversies resolved little and may even have sharpened the battle lines. But the testimony also indicated what is at stake for the two organizations when the commission makes its recommendations to the President.
At present the NCAA controls most of the nation's best athletes and facilities, while the AAU holds the franchises (international governing rights) for eight Olympic sports, notably swimming and track and field. The commission feels that a "highest sports authority" could arbitrate disputes that naturally rise from this type of power standoff, but the nature of the authority and the extent of its responsibility has not been determined. The reaction of NCAA and AAU officials to the authority concept and its possible scope says much about their conflicting interests.
With its international recognition and influence on the U.S. Olympic Committee, the AAU is basically opposed to the idea of a "highest" sports authority—unless it becomes that authority itself. If it becomes a subordinate organization, the AAU could lose much of its status. As for the NCAA and other, ostensibly independent, groups like the U.S. Track and Field Federation and the U.S. Wrestling Federation, which are opposed to the AAU, they would favor an independent authority—especially if governing rights were taken from the AAU and reassigned to organizations they deem more competent, like themselves.
AAU President, Joseph Scalzo says the USTFF and the USWF are puppets of the NCAA and that these groups would better serve amateur sport by joining the AAU. NCAA President John Fuzak says such talk only "diverts attention from [the AAU's] inadequacies," and it is true that in recent years Scalzo's organization has lost control of basketball and gymnastics and faces rebellion in track and field and wrestling. Inefficient management is the most persistent criticism leveled at the AAU. Long jumper Willye White, a member of the commission, said to Scalzo, in a backhand compliment, "If all your programs were as good as your Junior Olympics, you wouldn't have the problems you have now."
The NCAA, which is as reluctant as the AAU to yield any of its power, would accept a highest sports authority as a final arbitrator of disputes, although not as the supreme administrator of amateur sport. At the moment its future seems brighter than the AAU's. At any rate, while the commission has found fault with both the major sports groups, on the vital issue of franchises, it seems more sympathetic to critics of the AAU.
The Kansas City Scouts were able to win only one of the last 44 games they played in the National Hockey League's regular season. It was a dreadful time for them. The inability to do anything right extended as far as a despairing quote from Defenseman Steve Durbano, who moaned, " Jesus Christ and his 10 disciples couldn't help this team."
Ron Cey played third base for the Los Angeles Dodgers in their Opening Day loss to the San Francisco Giants last week, which is news only because it set a Los Angeles team record: most consecutive years, same man opening the season at third base—three. When the migrant Dodgers, newly arrived from Brooklyn, opened against the Giants in San Francisco in 1958, Dick Gray was their third baseman. In 1959 it was Jim Baxes, in 1960 Jim Gilliam, in 1961 Tommy Davis, in 1962 Daryl Spencer, in 1963 Ken McMullen, in 1964 John Werhas, in 1965 John Kennedy, in 1966 Jim Lefebvre. In 1967 Lefebvre shattered precedent by opening the season at third for a second-straight year, but in 1968 it was Bob Bailey, in 1969 Bill Sudakis, in 1970 Steve Garvey. Garvey tried third again in 1971 before shifting to first base and eventual stardom. Bill Grabarkewitz had the job in 1972, and Ken McMullen, back after a lapse of 10 years, was at third in 1973. That's 13 third basemen in 16 seasons, of whom only two ( Gilliam and Sudakis) went on to play as many as 100 games at the position the same season and only three (Davis, Lefebvre and Garvey) batted as high as .250.
The long search for stability ended when Cey took over during the 1973 season (he played 146 games at third that year). Now 28, the Penguin, as Cey is called because of his splayfooted gait, seems set for a long run, or waddle.