Look what they're teaching in college these days. At USC they're offering non-credit instruction in Advanced Loophole Finding. The prof is the school's president, James H. Zumberge, who has been demonstrating expertise in that field in the aftermath of the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision voiding the NCAA's football TV package. As Zumberge sees it, the court's decision means that the NCAA no longer has the right to prohibit the Trojans from appearing on football telecasts this season, which was one of the sanctions it levied against USC in 1982 as punishment for an elaborate ticket-scalping operation that enriched football players by more than $200,000 over a nine-year period. USC lawyers have come up with a technicality on which Zumberge bases his argument: In announcing its TV sanctions against USC, the NCAA used wording that suggested it was deriving the authority to act from its control of college football telecasts, a control that the Supreme Court decision has now eliminated.
Shaken as it is by that decision and other recent legal setbacks, the NCAA certainly doesn't relish the prospect of the court fight USC says it's prepared to wage over the sanctions issue. That may be why it sounded conciliatory in agreeing to meet with USC officials this week in Boston to review the situation. But USC's machinations are objectionable. The NCAA was careless in using language that appeared to link sanctions against USC to its TV plan; NCAA rules, which have been approved by member schools, more broadly empower the organization to bar wrongdoers from appearing not only on NCAA-arranged telecasts but also on "any other" live telecasts. Contrary to what Zumberge implies, the Supreme Court ruling didn't negate that provision; in fact, sections of the decision can be interpreted as affirming the NCAA's continued right to use TV sanctions as punishment. Significantly, the NCAA imposes TV sanctions in basketball, a sport in which it doesn't control regular-season telecasts.
Unlike USC, the University of Wisconsin, whose football team is also barred from appearing on TV in 1984, has elected to swallow its medicine. Bob Leu, the school's director of radio-TV, says, "Our president feels we're a member in good standing with the NCAA, and we'll abide by the [TV sanctions]."
Zumberge is clearly trying to use the Supreme Court decision to wriggle out of a punishment that he simply considers unjust. He accuses the NCAA of a tendency to "mismatch the penalty with the infraction" and complains that NCAA officials didn't properly "study and evaluate the impact of a television prohibition on a school like USC, as compared to some other school that would never appear on television anyway." In arguing, in effect, that USC is a bigger television attraction than other institutions, Zumberge ignores an important point. One way USC got so big was through the very cheating—in addition to the ticket-scalping scheme, the school has been guilty of wrongdoing involving admission standards and academics—that prompted the NCAA to take action against it.
RODEO DRIVE, HERE WE COME
After Saudi Arabia unexpectedly earned one of 16 Olympic soccer berths by winning a zonal elimination tournament in Singapore in April, members of the Saudi team were given a hero's welcome in their native land. Fans stormed the airport on the team's arrival home and mobbed the flower-bedecked team bus during the drive to downtown Riyadh. In the best tradition of the Arab world, if not of amateur athletics, the players were then showered with gifts.
First, at the palace of Crown Prince Abdullah, they were handed manila envelopes. Starters found theirs stuffed with bank notes totaling around $14,000, while second-stringers received $5,000. Prince Fahd bin Sultan, head of the country's soccer federation, gave each player a bag of gold worth about $10,000. The Saudi-American Bank gave them $1,000 each, and Saudi Arabian Airlines offered free first-class, roundtrip airline tickets to any destination in the world. From King Fahd came Rolex watches and plots of land worth more than $100,000 apiece. No special accounting was kept of the number of Mercedes 500 SELs that were handed out.
"What happens is this," says one informant close to the team. "You're invited to call on a prince at home to drink tea. You speak of this and that and, as you leave, a steward of the prince hands you a set of car keys. For actual salary, the Arab tradition is not so much. The players get about $11,500 a month walking-around money. But the gifts are grandiose. And it is not unmannerly to ask for one."
GERRY AND THE ISLANDERS
Dr. Jeffrey Minkoff is an orthopedist whose patients include the New York Islanders—he's one of the team doctors—and heavyweight boxer Gerry Cooney. Last week Minkoff diagnosed as a pulled muscle the shoulder injury Cooney suffered while sparring in preparation for a scheduled July 20 fight against Philip Brown. Cooney's handlers expressed relief that it wasn't a torn rotator cuff, as originally feared, but the muscle pull was bothersome enough to force an indefinite postponement of the Brown fight. That was only the latest of many setbacks for Cooney, who, because of a series of physical and emotional problems, has now gone 25 months since his last fight, in which he was stopped in the 13th round by Larry Holmes. A lot of people think Cooney is malingering, and while that may be unfair, he certainly doesn't come off too well in comparison with Minkoff's other patients, the Islanders. After all, most of them have had more fights over the past couple of years than Cooney has.