- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
THE LETTER AND THE SPIRIT
The NCAA keeps stumbling over its own rules. In 1962, partly to protect college basketball players from gamblers, the NCAA declared that a collegian faced suspension if he took part in a basketball game that had not been officially approved. But two current instances of NCAA enforcement of that basically sound rule seem to go far beyond its meaning and purpose.
First, the NCAA this year refused to sanction the basketball competition at the Maccabiah Games in Israel, although in the past the Maccabiah Games, like the Olympics and the Pan-American Games, had been sanctioned. When players from various parts of the country were being considered for the U.S. team the NCAA—apparently because an AAU-approved group was the selecting agency—blew the whistle at the collegians on the team and said no-no.
Most colleges reluctantly told their players to stay home, but Yale, which like all the Ivy League is having its differences with the NCAA, told its Jack Langer, a 6'8" junior, to go ahead. "He wanted to go and I encouraged him," says DeLaney Kiphuth, Yale's athletic director. "It was a great opportunity for him because he is a Jew and he wanted a chance to represent this country in Israel." As of last weekend Langer had not been declared ineligible but, Kiphuth says, "We made a stand, and I don't see how the NCAA can fail to bring us up before the infractions committee."
The second case seems even more extreme. Now a senior, 6'9" Gary Freeman of Oregon State went home to Boise, Idaho last March and played in a seniors vs. alumni game at his old school, Borah High. Because Oregon State players had been cautioned about playing in "outside" games, Freeman checked first with the high school coach, who in turn asked city and state interscholastic officials if it would be O.K. Everybody said fine, and Freeman played. Late in August, five months later, it was announced that Freeman had been suspended for violating the NCAA rule and that he could not play basketball for Oregon State this winter. Oregon State quickly asked the 18-man NCAA council, which has jurisdiction in the matter, to reinstate Freeman, but the request was denied.
People in Boise and at Oregon State were stunned and angry. It was generally accepted that someone at the University of Oregon had reported Freeman. The only Pacific Coast representative on the NCAA council is the University of Oregon's Dr. Raymond T. Ellickson. According to people in Boise, the NCAA talked to none of the Idaho officials involved with the game. Said Ron Runyon, superintendent of athletics and physical education for the Boise public schools, "We were not aware of the NCAA rule, but as I understand it now the purpose of the rule is to stop college players from competing in organized games in summer leagues or in AAU tournaments. It's pretty farfetched to call this piddly little seniors-alumni thing an organized game. Gary didn't even play with the alumni—he played with the seniors to balance the teams. No official score was kept, there were no paid officials and there was only a small crowd. Admission was something like 25¢, and the little money we took in went to lettermen's club projects.
"The NCAA council's only justification for calling Gary ineligible was that they have done the same thing before. They may have been wrong before, too."
DREAMS OF GLORY
They say that a vicarious sense of accomplishment is one of the things that contributes most to making a man a pro football fan. "I can do anything," he thinks subconsciously as he watches Gale Sayers or Joe Namath or John Mackey.