SI Vault
Edited by Jerry Kirshenbaum
March 11, 1985
A QUESTION OF AUTHORITYA stormy seven-hour emergency meeting of the Clemson board of trustees ended last week with two announcements: Bill L. Atchley, the university's president since 1979, would resign effective July 1, and Bill McLellan, the athletic director since 1971, would be granted his request for reassignment to a new position. What had prompted these startling developments? By all accounts, Atchley had sought to remove McLellan as head of the university's scandal-ridden athletic department, and some of the 13 trustees didn't like it. As things turned out, McLellan did lose his A.D. job. But the fact that he will be staying at the university in another capacity while Atchley leaves—"to unify the Clemson board of trustees," is how Atchley revealingly put it—was a singular defeat for the idea that university presidents should have the ultimate authority over their schools' athletic departments.
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March 11, 1985


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Because of a measles epidemic at Boston University, spectators were banned last week from several sports events involving the school's teams. At the first such event, the Terriers' 5-3 home ice hockey win over Lowell on Wednesday night, there were no fans, no cheerleaders and no band members on hand—in fact, nobody at all except for a larger-than-normal media contingent of 17. Entering the crowded press box, Boston Herald columnist George Kimball played the straight man, remarking, "This must be a pretty important hockey game."

It was a TV man who came up with just the right riposte. "Are you kidding?" he said. "We're here to cover the measles."

Silly rule department: One of the ways to make the LPGA Hall of Fame is to win 30 tour events, including two different major championships. Another is to win 35 events, including one major. Having won 29 events, one of them a major, Nancy Lopez would appear to be within striking distance of the Hall. Alas, another prerequisite is that a player be an LPGA member for 10 consecutive years, a milestone the 28-year-old Lopez won't reach until July 28, 1987. If she wins the required number of events in this, her eighth year on the tour, would it be fair to penalize her for her precocity and make her wait two years for enshrinement? JoAnne Carner, the last player to make the LPGA Hall—in 1982—says of the 10-year requirement: "It's just another little crazy rule. It took me 13 years [to win enough events], but if she can do it in less, she should be in."


Time was when the major sports knew their place on the calendar. Baseball was the summer game, played in the sultry months and in the warmth of broad daylight. Football was an activity best pursued in crisp, even frigid—and sometimes downright arctic—autumnal weather. Basketball was invented by that Naismith fellow as something people could do when winter kept them indoors. And hockey was properly played only when the lakes and ponds were frozen.

It takes no special astuteness to observe that sports entrepreneurs have been disturbing these seasonal traditions in recent years. Baseball has been chilled by a lengthened season, more night games and expansion into Canada. On the other hand, football has undergone a thaw, thanks to moves into domed quarters by erstwhile cold-weather teams like the Vikings and Colts and the advent of an upstart pro league that plays in the spring To be sure, now that spring football ha; turned out to be of dubious merit, the USFL is planning to move to the fall, possibly as early as next year. But don't think for a moment that the powers-that-be in sports have stopped fooling with the seasonal rhythms.

Where will it all end? Baseball is now considering changing its league championship playoff series from a best-of-five to a best-of-seven format, a move that could extend the World Series to Oct. 27—and, in the event of weather delays, result in the first-ever November Classic. Meanwhile, basketball and hockey keep stretching their schedules: Having long since occupied fall, winter and spring, it seems only a matter of time before they set their avaricious sights on summer. Consider what's happening with the NHL. The Stanley Cup playoffs ended on Jan. 31 in 1901, on March 30 in 1918 (the season of the NHL's birth), on April 14 in 1960, on May 1 in 1965 and on May 27 in 1975. Last year NHL president John Ziegler warned that the league's playoffs could soon break what he called "the June 1 barrier." Hardly had he spoken when the start of the 1984-85 season was delayed by the Canada Cup tournament. The other day the NHL released its playoff schedule, and you could suffer heat prostration just looking at it. Depending on how long the earlier postseason series lasts, the seventh game (if necessary) of the Stanley Cup finals could be played as late as June 4.

More on the USFL's possible move to a fall season. On Feb. 24 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which has a Sunday circulation of 571,646, conducted a poll of readers on what seemed a lively topic: Should the USFL switch and fight? Now the results of the survey are in, and they are, well, underwhelming. There were, all told, 12 responses. Four readers answered, "Who cares?" Four thought it would be a good idea for the USFL to switch, just so the NFL could bury the new league once and for all. The remaining four wanted the USFL to stay around, regardless of whether it plays in the spring or fall. One of the paper's editors said it was probably the first poll in history in which every response was printed.

Some politically sensitive bureaucrats in the Reagan Administration, mindful of their higher-ups' reluctance to spend vast sums to combat acid rain and other environmental blights, have come up with their own way of referring to pollution. They call it "the p word."

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