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One of the most troubling aspects of NCAA enforcement is that while schools and athletes can be punished for wrongdoing, the boosters who are often most responsible for the cheating go untouched. The NCAA has no punitive power over boosters; it can order them to stay away from a school's athletic program, but nothing more.
Now, in the aftermath of the SMU football scandal, the immunity enjoyed by boosters is under attack from sources outside the NCAA. As previously reported here (SCORECARD, March 23), the IRS may investigate whether SMU boosters deducted their slush-fund contributions as business expenses or as charitable contributions. Another threat to boosters is the prospect of lawsuits. Texas State Senator John Montford has drafted a bill that would permit colleges and athletic conferences to sue runamok boosters for loss of television and ticket revenues. SMU's student senate is considering suing boosters involved in the football scandal for tarnishing the university's name and devaluing its degrees.
On the theory that colleges should be held more accountable for their boosters, Texas Democratic Congressman John Bryant introduced a bill last week that would cut off federal funding to universities that permit improper payments to athletes. School officials often plead ignorance of their boosters' illicit dealings, but some observers, such as Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz, don't buy that. "What I want to know is how these alumni know who to recruit," Holtz has said. "Isn't it strange, when they're involved, that they always seem to be talking to a kid the school wants?"
In order to telecast the Providence-Alabama NCAA regional basketball game live last Thursday evening, WLNE-TV in Providence bumped the network feed of President Reagan's press conference and showed it on tape delay. Station program director Truman Taylor pointed out that the press conference was available live on other channels, and that, after all, "we're talking about the most important basketball game around here in 15 years."
Later that evening, however, WLNE acknowledged that perhaps basketball isn't the only game in town. The station preempted the first 30 minutes of the tape-delayed Syracuse-Florida game to air Ask Dr. Ruth.
OATES ON BOXING
The slight woman sitting next to heavyweight Trevor Berbick at ringside of the Mike Tyson—Bonecrusher Smith bout three weeks ago was Joyce Carol Oates, award-winning novelist, Princeton professor, recent good buddy of Tyson's and author of the highly acclaimed new book On Boxing. Says Oates, who subscribes to both the Times Literary Supplement and The Ring, "I'm fascinated with boxing since it's antithetical to me; I'm not aggressive."
Oates has been drawn to boxing ever since her father took her to the Golden Gloves bouts in Buffalo. Although she played several sports in high school, she was never tempted to put on the gloves. In fact, she doesn't consider boxing a sport at all, but a "cultural phenomenon filled with extraordinary personalities."