SI Vault
Edited by Craig Neff
September 24, 1990
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September 24, 1990


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By the way, according to NACEX, since 1980 baseball card collections have risen in value four times more than stocks on the New York exchange's corporate list.


Faced with the possibility of picketing and sponsor boycotts at next year's Masters because of its exclusionary membership practices, the Augusta National Golf Club announced last week that it recently admitted its first black member, Ron Townsend, president of the Gannett Television Group. Townsend, a 15 handicapper who belongs to other private golf clubs in Florida and his home state of Maryland, credited John Curley, the chairman of the Gannett Co., with arranging a meeting between Townsend and Augusta National members in July, during the uproar over the holding of the PGA Championship at the Shoal Creek club in Birmingham. Townsend says he was formally invited to join shortly thereafter and "I didn't waste any time in accepting."

Under antidiscrimination guidelines adopted by the PGA Tour in the wake of the Shoal Creek controversy, all clubs hosting Tour events (the Masters is not a Tour event) must demonstrate by next year that their membership practices aren't discriminatory. Toward that end, the Champions Golf Club in Houston, site of next month's $2.5 million Nabisco Championship, the Tour's richest event, said last week that it is about to admit its first black member, Walter King, a real estate developer and husband of Marguerite Ross Barnett, the University of Houston's new president. One hopes that Townsend and King will be but the first of many, black members at their clubs.

Meanwhile, officials of the Western Open, the second-oldest U.S. tournament (only the U.S. Open is older), said they will no longer hold the event at the Butler National Golf Club in Oak Brook, Ill., because Butler doesn't want to admit women members. Next year's Western Open will be played on one of the nation's top public courses, the Dubsdread course at the Cog Hill Golf and Country Club in Lemont, Ill.

Among the many cleverly named teams in last week's Nike Capital Challenge (a three-mile road race in Washington, D.C., involving runners from Congress, the White House, the judiciary and the media) were the Al Gore Rhythms (captained by the Tennessee senator), Read My Splits (a White House squad), USDA Foot Stamps (from the Department of Agriculture) and No Ways No Means (from the House of Representatives). A squad from Runner's World magazine, Do the Write Thing, won the team title, but for legal beagles the highlight was seeing Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy run with All Deliberate Speed, which finished second among judiciary teams.


When John Pont's r�sum� arrived in the mail in early 1988, sister Francis Marie Thrailkill, president of the College of Mount St. Joseph, a small (enrollment 2,700) Catholic school in Cincinnati, was startled. She saw Pont's credentials—22 years as football coach at Miami of Ohio, Yale, Indiana, which he guided to the 1968 Rose Bowl, and Northwestern, where he also served four years as athletic director—and asked herself, Why on earth would this man want to come here?

The answer is that Pont, who had spent the previous three years as athletic director of Hamilton ( Ohio) High, missed college coaching. When he read that Mount St. Joseph, a women's school until 1984, planned to start a football program to attract more male students and boost campus spirit, he couldn't wait to apply. "I talked to John and found that he is a real educator," says Sister Francis Marie. "I gave him the job without interviewing another soul."

Pont, 62, thereupon built—literally, in some respects—the Lion football program. He designed and stained lockers and helped lay carpeting for the school's first men's locker room. He got a local surgeon to donate training room equipment. Although he had little to offer high school prospects except playing time (Mount St. Joseph, an NAIA Division II school, awards no athletic scholarships), Pont sent out 1,000 recruiting letters and got 300 players to visit the school. Largely because of football, male freshman enrollment at Mount St. Joseph nearly tripled this fall, to 90. (Overall, the student body is still 78% female.)

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