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THEY'RE NO SAM SPADES
Until now the NCAA has policed suspected wrongdoing in intercollegiate athletics in an atmosphere of utmost secrecy. Two court rulings have suddenly changed that. Last month the Tennessee Court of Appeals upheld a request of the Memphis Commercial Appeal for release of documents relating to an investigation that resulted in Memphis State University's being placed on NCAA probation for academic and recruiting abuses. Last week, in a similar suit brought by the Mesa Tribune, the Arizona State Supreme Court left standing a lower-court decision ordering release of documents involving the NCAA's probe into transgressions at Arizona State, which had been placed on two-year probation only the week before. The Arizona ruling came despite the objections of the NCAA, which had argued that release of the documents would have "a chilling effect" on its enforcement procedures.
The NCAA's alarums may or may not be justified. In both cases the courts ruled that the documents should be made public because they involved state-supported institutions. Because roughly half of the NCAA's 738 member schools are state-supported and because even private schools almost invariably receive some public funds, the two successful suits can only encourage the filing of similar suits elsewhere. And as the NCAA argued, the threat that its disciplinary proceedings may be made public could conceivably inhibit its future investigations.
But then those investigations are severely limited to begin with, a fact underscored by the documents released in Tennessee and Arizona. They reveal that after conducting a preliminary investigation into possible rule violations, the NCAA ordinarily submits a list of written allegations to the schools, which are expected to respond after, in effect, investigating themselves. Then the NCAA holds a hearing for assessing penalties. It appears, however, that the schools sometimes provide only the most perfunctory responses to the NCAA's allegations. Thus, the NCAA asked Arizona State to respond to an allegation that a Sun Devil football player, Gerald Riggs, had sold two complimentary season tickets in 1978 to a booster, Rick Lynch, for $100 apiece in violation of NCAA rules against scalping. Arizona State replied that it had interviewed Riggs, who said that as a matter of fact he had sold the tickets not to Lynch but to a former assistant coach, Don Baker, who had been mentioned at other stages in the investigation as having on various occasions 1) bought tickets from players and 2) sold tickets to Lynch. This would seem to raise the question of whether Baker might have resold Riggs' tickets to Lynch. But Baker declined to talk to Arizona State's investigators, and they in turn apparently didn't see fit to ask Lynch whether he might have received Riggs' tickets secondhand. But, of course, the NCAA hadn't specifically asked about that possibility. And there the matter was allowed to rest. It's hard to imagine anything having a chilling effect on that kind of detective work.
USING RIGHTS TO RIGHT WRONGS
For the past 29 years San Franciscans have listened to 49er games over radio station KSFO. No more. Last week the city's NFL team abruptly awarded radio rights to a rival station, KCBS, touching off immediate speculation that 49er owner Edward DeBartolo Jr. was thereby settling a score with Gene Autry, the owner of KSFO. Autry also owns baseball's California Angels, in which capacity he voted last month to reject the well-publicized bid by DeBartolo's father to buy the Chicago White Sox. Thanks to Autry and other American League owners who voted with him, the elder DeBartolo's efforts to purchase the Chicago team were foiled.
Was the younger DeBartolo using 49er radio rights to wreak vengeance on Autry? Ken Flower, the 49ers' director of advertising, conceded that while Autry's vote on the White Sox controversy wasn't the principal reason for taking 49er radio rights away from KSFO, it did play a "significant" role in the decision. Jim Myers, KSFO's station manager, said he was told flatly by both Flower and the younger DeBartolo that because of Autry's White Sox vote, the 49ers would cease doing business with Autry's radio station. Myers said it would be inaccurate to say that KSFO lost its bid to renew its contract; the station, he complained, wasn't even afforded an opportunity to enter one.
THEY RULE THE POOL
JUST PLAIN EX-BILL
EVEN, AGAINST ALL ODDS