University of Kansas basketball coach looked a little weepy last week. "Hay
fever," Larry Brown said, blinking watery eyes, "the worst ever."
Brown's allergist thought his patient might be reacting to the family dog, but
when you've just moved to farm country from northern New Jersey and when people
all around you are saying heddo instead of hello, it's safe to figure you've
got hay fever. A thousand miles away, though, in Greensboro, N.C., the locals
would no doubt diagnose Brown's ailment as a case of crocodile tears.
Here's why: On
Sept. 22 a very tall high school senior, Danny Manning—late of Greensboro—told
a press conference in Lawrence, Kans. that he would be taking his considerable
basketball talents to the University of Kansas next fall. "If I was still
living back East I probably would be going to North Carolina," he admitted,
"but my home is here in Lawrence now, and I want to be close to my
That raised howls
on Tobacco Road, because two days earlier Kansas had announced the hiring of
Danny's father, Ed Manning, who for the past three years had driven a truck for
a living, as one of Brown's assistant coaches. Was it a package deal?
"No," says Brown, "but I know people won't read it that
Not in North
Carolina, anyway. Mac Morris, Danny's coach at Greensboro's Page High, has been
the most outspoken in charging that the older Manning was "used" to
obtain his son's services. "I don't like how it was handled," Morris
said last week. "Page 10 of the NCAA's A Guide for the College-Bound
Student-Athlete reads, 'In recruiting a prospective student-athlete, it is not
permissible to give, offer or be involved, directly or indirectly
in...employment of the relatives of a prospect.' "
When Dean Smith,
basketball coach at the University of North Carolina, left for a basketball
clinic in Spain in September, the word was that Carolina had an inside track on
Danny. Says Smith, a Kansas alumnus and Brown's college coach in the early
1960s, "I came back from Europe and [Assistant Coach] Bill Guthridge asked
me, 'You'll never guess who Larry hired?' " And he never would have, Smith
says. "It was a surprise to me."
The object of all
this attention averaged 18.8 points and nine rebounds a game last year. Most
scouting services rank him as one of the nation's top prospects. "Danny was
the leading scorer," says Morris, "second-leading assist man and
leading rebounder on a 26-0 team that won the state title. He's 6'10�", and
he has the agility to be a point guard. Danny may be the best high school
player this state has ever produced."
Back at Page
High, one candidate for sophomore class president is campaigning on the
platform of BRING DANNY MANNING BACK TO NORTH CAROLINA. How? By boycotting
grocery products containing Kansas wheat until Danny is shipped back to
Greensboro. Forget it. Manning will play this season for Lawrence High, where
he enrolled on Sept. 2.
Ed Manning, 41,
played for nine seasons with six different pro teams, including two seasons
under Brown on the ABA Carolina Cougars. Manning then briefly played for and
coached a team in Belgium before becoming an assistant coach at North Carolina
A&T University during the 1977-78 season. "I never worried about
whether he was qualified or not," Brown says. "I hired Doug Moe [now
head coach of the NBA Denver Nuggets] when I was with the Cougars, and he
didn't have as much experience as Ed has."
Brown is also
annoyed by rumors that Kansas gave Manning a $50,000 salary, a house and a car.
"He got exactly what my other assistant, Bob Hill, gets," Brown
counters. He adds that the affirmative action guidelines under which Manning
was hired set his salary range at $27,500 to $30,000. Kansas did pay for the
Mannings' move to Lawrence, but, Brown says, "He got just what any other
coach would have gotten." That includes the use of an automobile, a 1983
Chevrolet Caprice; but no free housing.
Forgotten in all
the controversy is how Manning's job came to be vacant in the first place. The
incumbent was former Jayhawk and Boston Celtic star Jo Jo White, who applied
for the head coaching job when Ted Owens was fired last April after 19 years at
Kansas. Instead, Athletic Director Monte Johnson made a futile pass at
Carolina's Smith and then wooed Brown, who was coaching the New Jersey Nets.
"I didn't know till July 9 we were going to have an opening," Brown
said last week. "That's when Jo Jo was let go." By Aug. 11 the
Affirmative Action Office had approved six candidates for Brown to
interview—"six really capable guys," he said. "I agonized over the
list, but I couldn't decide." Four of the six were relative strangers to
Brown, but he knew Alvin Gentry, an assistant at Colorado, and Gerald Govan,
who was an ABA teammate of Brown's. "But he has daughters," Brown