Watch out for your own revolving door, Schultz, before you spin a blast at pros

Phil Jackman

February 18, 1993|By Phil Jackman

Here we are just one-eighth of the way into the new year and already we have a winner for the Hypocrite of the Year Award. It's unclear if this is the earliest this prestigious prize has been claimed (earned), but it's probably safe to assume that Dick Schultz has established a record.

Dick Schultz, of course, is executive director of the NCAA and, as such, he's a constant target.

If he's not explaining away the anarchic ways of his predecessor, Walter Byers, he's wrestling with the people who run the bowl games. If it's not the schools with the powerful football teams wanting to glom all the TV money, it's the women insisting their athletic programs be funded to the extent men's programs are with nary a suggestion as to where the money is going to come from.

Then there's the problem of divvying up all the loot resulting from the basketball tournament, concerns about over-zealous booster clubs, runaway infractions, eligibility rules, suitable and just punishments, never-ending appeals processes and remembering to get the oil changed in his car every 3,000 miles.

With all this and the suddenly energized President's Commission to contend with on a daily basis, one wonders why the ex-University of Virginia athletic director bothered to get involved in as local a matter as a coach getting dumped by a school.

By way of review, Cal-Berkeley got rid of basketball coach Lou Campanelli the other day. So big deal, it happens all the time, right? Almost instantly, the firing took on the dimensions of Woody Hayes being set adrift by Ohio State, the Dallas Cowboys waving bye-bye to Tom Landry and the Yankees telling Casey Stengel his services as manager were no longer required.

It was after the National Association of Basketball Coaches, an outfit that considers itself on a par with the Judicial Branch of the government in importance, had sprung to Campanelli's aid (not knowing the circumstances, it should be added) that Schultzy figured he should be heard.

"This action gives the indication that we're just like the professionals," said the director, spitting out that last word as if it was the world's No. 1 vulgarity,

He went on to include a couple of more coaches recently canned as "what you see in football, basketball and baseball at the pro level all the time. Up to this period in history, we [the colleges] have been pretty well free of that."

Oh?

Come on, Dickie, baby, you're suggesting that the collegians have long been the model for harmonious coach-team-school relationships? Molders of men and character on the friendly fields of strive have been run off by their employers since shortly after Harvard opened its doors in anno Domini 1636.

This is not to say the schools have been at fault in a majority of the cases, because we all know of coaches whose sole objective in life seems to be to not stay anywhere more than the time it takes to learn the name of at least one student manager.

Let us list some of the runabouts: Larry Brown, Bobby Ross, Ray Perkins, Dr. Tom Davis, Jackie Sherrill, Rick Pitino, Bill Curry, yes, even Bear Bryant and, of course, the man who has the record for renting Ryder trucks, Lou Saban.

It simply can't be that in all cases these men and countless others took flight for purely selfish reasons. Rather, at some point, it must have became clear to them that self preservation is a priority once they witnessed friend and foe alike losing their jobs.

What pro team would get rid of a football coach whose team went 9-3 every year? None, probably, but Ohio State did. Ask Earle Bruce. A lot of good coaches have been run off, not only by the pros, but by the so-called amateurs. For Schultz to cast aspersions seems misplaced when his house is about as tidy as the fraternity in the movie "Animal House."

Time was when a college coach was a guy in sweats wearing a baseball cap with a whistle around his neck who taught a minimum of two courses while handling the equipment cage, lining the field and sweeping out the gym.

Now, he commands a salary of six figures, has guaranteed radio and TV deals and rakes in big dough from a sneaker company while wearing Florsheims on the sideline. In other words, he has become pretty good at taking care of himself.

Why is Schultz uselessly taking a shot at the pros, who certainly have a better command of their business than the colleges do? While issuing a veiled reprimand at the membership, he in effect is saying: If you have a problem, don't fix it.

Which, come to think of it, is the way the NCAA often functions.

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