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Frank is probably right about that. It makes little sense for collegiate sports to operate under often conflicting sets of rules for men and women—or, for that matter, to hold separate conventions. It may even be that Frank's organization, which is older and richer than the AIAW, is the logical one to do the unifying. But any claim the NCAA might have to leadership in female athletics is considerably diminished by the fact that it has been notably unsympathetic to women's sports, consistently resisting efforts to apply Title IX (the law outlawing sex discrimination in federally assisted schools) to athletes. Having lost that battle, however, the NCAA now indicates that it sees the handwriting on the wall. One can only hope that Frank faithfully reflects revised NCAA thinking when he says that in light of Title IX, women should "participate fully in intercollegiate sports."
All that aside, there is something troubling about the fact that the NCAA move into women's sports occurs at a time of growing concern about its administration of men's sports. Continued revelations of recruiting abuses, the spreading academic-transcript scandal and the shocking influence exercised by booster club members lend urgency to the old question of whether institutions of higher education belong in the business of big-time entertainment, which college sports have long since become. In fairness to both the NCAA and AIAW, the answer to that question must come ultimately not from these organizations but from the colleges and universities that make up their membership. Unless educators come to grips with what intercollegiate sport—and education—is all about, it won't much matter which association handles the administrative details.
DANCING THE CINCINNATI TWO-STEP
In 1972 Vince Chickerella was hired as basketball coach at the University of Cincinnati but mysteriously backed out just hours before the press conference at which his appointment was to have been announced. The same year, Dan Radakovich was hired as the Bearcats' football coach and actually made it to his press conference—but quit five days later. And in 1976 the peripatetic Lou Saban resigned after only 19 days as Cincinnati's athletic director.
Last week Bearcat fans were reeling from yet another abrupt about-face, only in this case basketball coach Ed Badger announced he would stay, thereby rescinding a two-day-old decision to resign. Badger said he had quit "in utter frustration," which was perhaps understandable. Cincinnati is currently in the second year of a two-year NCAA probation for recruiting violations that occurred under Badger's predecessors, and last season, his first, the Bearcats struggled to a 13-14 record, their first sub-.500 finish in more than a quarter of a century. This season Cincinnati got off to a 6-4 start but then lost two players for academic reasons, including starting Center Dave Duarte.
Badger claimed that both players might have remained eligible if they had received better academic counseling. He was persuaded to stay put only after the university administration promised to set up a more attentive counseling program, and after Bearcat fans pledged their unswerving devotion. It was encouraging that at week's end neither the administration, the fans nor Badger had changed their minds—yet.
CON FILM FESTIVAL
Controversy still raged last week over the disputed end-zone call in Pittsburgh's 27-13 victory over Houston in the NFL's American Conference championship game. Commissioner Pete Rozelle wouldn't concede that Side Judge Donald Orr had erred in nullifying an apparent third-period touchdown pass to Houston's Mike Renfro that likely would have led to a 17-17 tie. Instead, Rozelle came forward with film taken by an end-zone camera that, he said, showed that Renfro had bobbled the ball. "From the vantage point of this film, it is reasonable to see how Orr made the call," he said. "Renfro didn't appear to have possession until he was out of bounds."
No matter how often the projectionist ran the film, however, the play still looked suspiciously like a lot of touchdown passes that have counted in the NFL. It remained for a Houston television station, KPRC, to put the film and Rozelle's interpretation of it in perspective. At the end of the newscast that carried the commissioner's presentation, the following credit was buried in a listing of the producer, director and various technicians: "Film Critic, Pete Rozelle."