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DON'T DO AS I DO
Doesn't a contract mean anything anymore in sports? Coaches who skip out on their contracts have become stock figures, and the woods are full of professional athletes who want to renegotiate their deals. Even colleges are getting in on the act. Take, for example, the University of Kansas, which had a full basketball schedule of 28 games this season, the NCAA limit. When offered the chance to play a nationally televised home game against Louisville on Jan. 25, KU decided to make room on the schedule by dropping its away game at the University of Detroit on Jan. 6. Nope, we've got a contract, said Detroit, for whom the Kansas game looms as the season's biggest home attraction. When the dispute waxed hotter, Detroit sued in Wayne County Circuit Court.
Now Judge Susan D. Borman has issued an injunction restraining KU from playing Louisville unless it also plays Detroit. Gary Hunter, an attorney who is assistant athletic director in charge of administration at Kansas, is disappointed. He says that Kansas offered to pay Detroit the "amount of money that was in the liquidated damage clause in the contract, plus what the profits would have been. They never would do that. They would never send me that figure."
"It's more than just a game with Kansas," counters Brad Kinsman, Detroit's A.D. "It's a principle. If a team chooses not to honor a contract, what does a contract mean? As far as we can determine, a case of this nature at the college level has never been brought before the courts before. It's an important decision."
Well said. But KU's Hunter points out that in 1982 Detroit canceled out of a holiday tournament at the University of Missouri, whereupon the tournament collapsed and Detroit had to pay Missouri the contract guarantee of $10,000.
Both Detroit and the University of Kansas have law schools. If there is one thing that law schools hammer into students, it is the sanctity of written contracts. Isn't anybody at KU or Detroit paying attention?
SHOOT-OUT ON NOT-SO-EASY STREET
The ever innovative Continental Basketball Association will stage a halftime contest for fans at its Feb. 11 All-Star Game in Tampa. The contest is called The CBA's $1,000,000 Easy Street Shootout, and the contestant who makes the longest shot will win a redeemable zero-coupon bond that reaches maturity in 40 years. What does that mean? It means that in the year 2026 the winner gets a million bucks; if he or she wants to redeem it the day after the shoot-out, the take will be about $30,000.
Regional winners from the 14 CBA cities will assemble in Tampa to try for the payoff, and each will get just one shot. Obviously it is a considerable advantage to be able to shoot last, so a lottery will determine the order of shooters. Even so, the event should produce some interesting and perhaps novel strategies. Does the first contestant shoot from only 10 feet and hope the others miss? If, say, the first 10 shooters miss, does No. 11 try an easy layup and hope that the last three choke? And, finally: inasmuch as the shoot-out is a deferred-money deal, will the winner try to renegotiate four years from now?
NEW CHAMP, BUT SAME CAMP