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Edited by Richard Demak
July 01, 1991
Watch Out, NCAA
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July 01, 1991


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Watch Out, NCAA

Alarmed politicians are eyeing college sports

As he has so often before, lame-duck UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian last week took some potshots at the NCAA. This time, however, the salvos were particularly public: Sitting in front of a bank of television cameras, Tarkanian testified before the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Consumer Protection and Competitiveness. The panel was conducting the first of what its chair, Representative Cardiss Collins (D., Ill.), said would be a series of hearings "looking at all aspects of college sports—the NCAA, grades, money, everything."

The proceedings reflect a growing interest in the NCAA on the part of the nation's lawmakers. In January 1990, Congress enacted a law that obliges colleges to make public their athletes' graduation rates. The first figures are due later this year. Last month, Representative Ed Towns (D., N.Y.) introduced legislation that would require the NCAA to afford due process to those it investigates. Nebraska, Nevada and Florida have already enacted similar measures. For its part, the NCAA, which in the past has denied the accused the right to face his accusers, maintains that it has taken steps to ensure greater due process in its investigations and that new laws are therefore unnecessary.

The NCAA has only itself to blame for government's increased interest in college sports. As John C. Weistart, Duke law professor and co-author of the book The Law of Sports, says, "The beast [big-time college sports] is unwilling to kill itself, so federal involvement is coming."

NCAA-bashing coaches shouldn't necessarily see Washington as an ally, because government may well see college coaches as part of the problem. Last week, Tarkanian called the NCAA the greatest problem in college sports, urging Congress to play a larger role in controlling athletics. But when LSU basketball coach Dale Brown whined to the committee that coaches were the "whipping boys" of the system, "forced to the back of the bus," an unsympathetic Collins said, "There's been some partying going on at the back of your bus!"

Weighty Blows

Did lighter gloves put a boxer into a coma?

Kid Akeem Anifowoshe and IBF junior bantamweight champion Robert Quiroga fought for 36 brutal minutes on June 15 in San Antonio. At the end, Quiroga looked much the worse: Both eyes were swollen nearly shut, blood gushed from cuts near one eye and on his chin, and his face was puffed and bruised. Anifowoshe, a 22-year-old Nigerian who lives in Las Vegas, appeared to have suffered only a swollen left eye and a cut lip. "He was fine," says Anifowoshe's wife, Sharon. "He went over and hugged Quiroga and he was talking and everything."

But a minute after the decision was announced—he lost unanimously—Anifowoshe collapsed into a coma. "When he dropped in the ring, his right pupil was fixed and dilated," says Dr. Gerardo Zavala, one of two doctors at ringside. "He started having convulsions. He was having trouble breathing. For all practical purposes, the man was dying in the ring."

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