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Egg in Your Beer

Coals From the Hot Stove

By Charles W. Bailey

The tortuous proceedings of the NCAA conference last weekend provide an interesting commentary on the minds and consciences of the men who fondle the cash receipts from America's "amateur" intercollegiate program. It seems inconceivable that anyone could have expected the members to toss out the seven erring sisters indicted for breaches of the Sanity Code, but something akin to a grasp of surprise greeted the failure of the athletic Pharisees to carry out the proposed hypocrisy.

It isn't too hard to guess the thought processes involved in casting a ballot on the expulsion proposal. They could very well go in this way: "They didn't go after my school this time. I wonder how they missed us? Now, why pick on Virginia (substitute any of the other six if this one offends you) when they aren't doing anything worse than we are, really. They were just careless. They'll smarten up now." So this athletic director votes for acquittal.

Different Melody in Same Key

A man with a more involved mind--a college president, say--would perhaps think along other lines. "Now, what is this Sanity Code anyway? It seems to me to be merely a boundary, a line of demarkation beyond which one must not bid on the open market. There seem to be ways of getting around the matter of salaries--you can start a "Buck-A-Month" Club, like Stanford, and have the Alumni pay the bill ... might be a good idea to talk that over with the Trustees ..."

So, at least, it could have been. The colleges who were not caught breaking the rules voted to acquit because they hadn't been caught, or because they were just inside the foul line, or because they thought he whole business was silly. The NCAA may be fulfilling its constructional promise by establishing a uniform law of amateurism; if so, it is proceeding under a definition of "amateur" that stretches Noah Webster's reasoning to its limit.

Sanity Code versus Professionalism

It seems to this writer that there are still two ways out of such mental puzzles. The NCAA, having failed to punish its wrongdoers, night throw away the Sanity Code and save its investigators' time and expenses; or other members might adopt what seems to be an increasingly popular attitude at Ivy League schools--to stay home, play each other, and stop fooling around with the pros.

Of course, this would mean that most of those nice big stadia--like Harvard's--would go unfilled, an that in turn would mean fewer dollars. But a program of gradual deflation now could prevent a bust later. Any stockbroker can tell you about that, and it's not hard to imagine what would happen the day Notre Dame finally gets its corner on the player market. Big Ten would fall off 28 points in the first ten minutes' trading, and not even the million and a half dumped on the market by the Pacific Coast and Southern houses could hold the line. The only way to stop it would be to declare a College Holiday.

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