The U.S. Basketball Writers Association bobbled the ball in its reaction to the arrest of University of San Francisco Guard Quintin Dailey on charges involving an alleged sexual assault against a USF coed,. Only the day before Dailey's arrest on Feb. 22, the USBWA's nine-member selection committee had voted to include him on its 10-man All-America team. But within hours after Dailey was charged on five felony counts, the USBWA replaced him on the All-America team with the University of Wyoming's Bill Garnett. Then, after enduring a fire storm of criticism for that action, the USBWA this week reversed itself again, leaving Garnett on the team but also reinstating Dailey. Welcome though that about-face was, the USBWA's handling of the matter left that organization with a black eye.
The decision to expel Dailey from the All-America team had been stoutly defended by USBWA President Frank Boggs, the sports editor of the Colorado Springs Sun. Claiming that the vote to bounce Dailey from the team had been unanimous, Boggs said, "It was our feeling that an All-Star team is one thing and an All-America team is another. In athletics, an All-America should exemplify America on and off the court." Yet it wasn't clear who had taken part in that "unanimous" vote. One member of the selection committee, the Indianapolis Star's John Bansch, told SI that he had voted to expel Dailey because of the latter's arrest, explaining, "With five counts, it's pretty obvious he must have done something. If he really is an All-America, he wouldn't be in that situation." But another committee member, Kirk Wessler of the Columbia (Mo.) Daily Tribune, said he hadn't been called upon to vote on whether to expel Dailey. The Oakland Tribune's Ron Bergman, who wrote a story on the subject, got in touch with three other committee members, none of whom had been asked to vote on the question, either. Boggs isn't a member of the selection committee and supposedly doesn't have a vote, but he apparently was deeply involved in the decision.
Boggs' argument that selection to the USBWA team should exemplify America off the court bore closer scrutiny, too, and not just because All America, like All East or All Pro, properly refers to jurisdiction rather than one's moral worth. The USBWA, of course, is entitled to define eligibility for its honorees any way it wishes, but Boggs admitted that no requirement about off-court behavior had been spelled out. The criterion was adopted to fit the circumstances only after Dailey's arrest. In fact, Providence's Marvin Barnes was named to the 1974 USBWA All-America team even though charges of assault with a dangerous weapon brought by a teammate were pending against him. In 1976, Tennessee's Bernard King was named to the USBWA team even though he had had several brushes with the law. Significantly, Wessler expressed surprise at Dailey's expulsion and said, "I thought we were just judging his basketball talents." The ex post facto imposition of eligibility criteria on Dailey was reminiscent of a similar effort to rewrite history in the case of Paul Robeson, who was an All-America football player at Rutgers in 1918. Years later, because of Robeson's pro-Soviet politics, a football publication listed only a 10-man All-America team for 1918, omitting Robeson's name.
But whether the USBWA could justify the idea that its All-America honorees should be simon-pure off the court was almost beside the point. The fact remained that Dailey had merely been accused of a crime. He continued to play for San Francisco after his arrest (albeit, because of an anonymous death threat, under police guard during a 91-83 victory last week over Santa Clara, a game in which he scored 27 points), and he and the Dons were tapped for the NCAA tournament. Dailey has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, and he faces a preliminary hearing in San Francisco Municipal Court on March 22. It was without explanation or apology that Boggs announced that he and other USBWA officers had repolled the selection committee, which then voted to reinstate Dailey. It may be that at least some of those responsible for removing Dailey from the All-America team belatedly realized that the presumption of innocence is something else that exemplifies America.
THE SCHOOL THAT NEVER THAWS
The men's and women's basketball teams at Bluefield State College, a small (enrollment: 1,000) liberal arts and engineering school in West Virginia, have ended their seasons, and the Big Blue golfers of the school's only other varsity sports team will soon be taking to the fairways. Despite spring's approach, however, a wintry feeling continues to pervade the campus. And how could it be otherwise? After all, Bluefield State's athletic director is Barry Blizzard and its golf coach is Rick Snow.
Contrary to what one might assume, Blizzard didn't hire Snow out of some sort of meteorological rapport. In fact, he didn't hire Snow at all. By the time the 31-year-old Blizzard became athletic director in 1976 (he'd previously been the sports-information director and assistant athletic director), Snow, now 38, was already the golf coach and assistant coach of both the basketball and the now-defunct football team. Their names have naturally been the subject of much mirth, particularly when, also in 1976, the two men were marooned together during a road trip with the school's basketball team in a Clarksburg, W. Va. motel by one of the worst snowstorms ever to hit the state. Recalls Blizzard: "There we were, Blizzard and Snow, stranded in a blizzard. We tried to make collect calls home, and the operator almost fell out of her chair when we gave her our names. She didn't believe us."
Blizzard and Snow are both avid skiers, but both are also glad that a couple of recent snowfalls, which raised Blue-field's total accumulation this winter to 25 inches, will soon be just a memory. Says Blizzard, with an air of relief: "Most of the snow is gone." Adds Snow, golf clubs at the ready: "We're looking forward to spring."
THE RACE IS ON
In hopes of becoming the major leagues' first 300-game career winner since Early Wynn reached that milestone in 1963, 43-year-old Gaylord Perry last week signed a minor league contract with the Seattle Mariners giving him an opportunity to pitch his way onto the parent club's roster. If he does so, it will be interesting to see whether Perry, who has 297 victories, can win his 300th before his new club can win its 300th. The Mariners have 290 wins in their five-year history against 465 losses.