A DEVIL OF A TIME
The situation at Arizona State gets nastier all the time. First came the $1.1 million lawsuit filed by a former ASU punter, Kevin Rutledge, who accused football Coach Frank Kush of punching him on the sideline during a game. Then Athletic Director Fred Miller fired Kush for allegedly lying about the incident (SI, Oct. 29). Now it turns out that the NCAA and Arizona law-enforcement officials are investigating a host of new allegations of suspected wrongdoing involving not only Kush but also his accuser, Miller, and his successor as coach, Bob Owens.
The Arizona Republic says that the NCAA has been looking into reports that Kush and Miller split $63,000 in proceeds from a football booster banquet. If they pocketed any such money, it might be in violation of NCAA rules. And last week university President John Schwada asked the NCAA to broaden its inquiry after five ASU players gave him sworn statements. One player said that drag-strip operator Rick Lynch had offered him a car or money if he would testify against Kush. Another said that Owens, then an assistant coach, had undermined Kush by acting as an "informant" for Lynch.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety was meanwhile investigating the possibility that $183,010 worth of complimentary football and basketball tickets was misused and that $140,000 in ticket money was never deposited. There also were reports of ticket refunds going astray and of a delay on the part of an ASU booster club, the Sun Angel Foundation, in remitting $585,000 in 1978 season ticket proceeds—resulting in a loss of interest to the school. There were further allegations that players had received cash payments from Arizona State boosters and that Miller was guilty of a conflict of interest because the university paid $2,075 a month to a weight-training service owned by a man with whom Miller is associated in a health-food-supplement business. And finally, at ASU's request, the Pac-10 was investigating possible infractions involving the transfer of credits of eight players, a probe that conference officials said could lead to forfeiture by ASU of some of this season's games.
As new clouds gathered over the ASU football program, Miller offered a point-by-point rebuttal of the accusations against him and Kush appeared on ABC-TV to deny anew that he had punched Rutledge. Since he had also been accused during his 21� years as ASU coach of yanking players by their face masks, stepping on their hands and hitting them with pipes and boards, Kush seemed to be drawing a rather fine distinction when he said, "I've never punched a youngster skin to skin."
It took a bit of doing, but The Phoenix Gazette's Jerry Guibor actually found something to chuckle about while covering ASU's burgeoning scandal. Casting about for the telephone number of Gary Bouck, one of several ASU players who say they saw Kush slug Kevin Rutledge, Guibor called Chester Kropp, the Sun Devils' 73-year-old assistant equipment manager. " Chester, do you happen to have Gary Bouck's number?" he asked.
"Just a minute," Kropp said. Guibor cooled his heels for what seemed an eternity before Kropp returned to the phone.
"Sixty-five," the equipment man said.
OVERFLIGHTS & OVERSIGHTS