White, who has
missed only three basketball games in 10 years and is considered the school's
No. I fan, says, "Last year we finished in the top 20 in the nation in
volleyball, basketball, baseball and tennis. I think this is very important.
And now women's sports are really moving." He looks around. "Let's have
the women's volleyball team stand up."
gym, tall, bashful. muscular young women arise. In their daily workouts in the
already overcrowded gym, the girls run, dive, grunt and sweat in total
dedication. Male jocks standing in the wings often can be seen nodding in
approval. The students applaud. "And now let's have the men's varsity
basketball team stand up." More shuffling, more applause. And chapel is
Since the opening
of the Malibu campus, Banowsky has set himself up as the one man responsible
for whatever Pepperdine has become. A dynamic, complicated spellbinder,
Banowsky is seen by the faculty and administrators as something of a law unto
himself. "He runs this place like a dictator," says Rose. "A good
wealthy conservatives, some of whom have never even seen the campus but like
the concept, have kept Pepperdine afloat through hard times. "I'm not like
Oral Roberts, who can collect on TV," says Banowsky. "We need our
donors. The conservative business community gives us money because they like
our image—because we don't have hippies and Maoists and Marxists and Angela
Davises. They say, 'We like what this school turns out.' I don't see hypocrisy
Like most private
universities, Pepperdine is hardly out of financial difficulty, and there is
constant debate over certain of its priorities. For instance, despite the
substantial athletic budget, full professors at the Malibu campus average only
$17,150 for a two-trimester period. But Pepperdine's policies have been set for
a reason. "I like sports," says Banowsky by way of explanation.
"When I was growing up in Texas you proved your manhood through sports. You
didn't play the trumpet. In college I was on a baseball scholarship. I was a
pretty good catcher-outfielder, and I batted cleanup. I held the record for the
most triples in a season. Did Colson mention that? He didn't? Well, a lot of
them were actually home runs in which I got thrown out at the plate. I'm very
slow." He chuckles softly at the image of 20-year-old Bill Banowsky sliding
through a cloud of dust into a waiting catcher's mitt.
has not underestimated the power of sports. Back in the president's house, in
which no other president has lived, he sits behind a made-to-order desk hewn
from a single oak log.
color at a university," he says, thumping the log. "They mean life,
campus personality. Colleges tend to be fragmented, but sports give a sense of
the whole. You can never get people together in one place, in one direction,
like at a ball game. In the university business there is a constant struggle to
state your appeal, to give public notice. It just so happens that newspapers
have whole sections on sports. They don't have sections on airplanes. They
don't have sections on museums or pianos. They have sports sections. That's how
things are. America is sports-crazy."
then, as some have said, a sports factory first and an academic institution
only as a sideline?
shaking his head, Banowsky leans back in his chair. "No, no, no. The
academic priorities come first. Sports go first. What I have always said is
that as long as we can have guns and butter we will have guns and butter. If we
are forced for economic reasons to cut back on anything, we silence the guns.
We keep the butter."
president looks at his watch and, noting the time, indicates that he has other
business to tend to. Outside the night is fresh and warm. In the quiet one can
almost hear the guns of sport echoing and reechoing through the canyons of