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The official censure of Yale by the ECAC executive council two days ago, and the council's recommendation of a possible further penalty if Yale fails to disqualify an ineligible player from its basketball squad, is still another disgraceful episode in the petty, childish bickering that he's characterized NCAA-AAU relations during the '60's.
The ECAC. which must enforce all NCAA edicts among its members, chastised Yale for using Jack Langer, whom the NCAA had declared ineligible, in a varsity basketball match with Brown. Wednesday night. It further ordered Yale to "cease and desist in such use of an ineligible player," under pain of possible further punishment, which could include suspension from both the ECAC and NCAA, forfeiture of all contests in which Langer has participated and exclusion from any NCAA or ECAC tournaments for which Yale might be eligible.
The crisis came to a head at the beginning of the Elk basketball season, when Yale insisted that it would let Langer ruled ineligible by the NCAA because of his participation in last summer's unsanctioned Maccabiah games-play for the Blue varsity. The NCAA took no overt action after Langer's participation in contests with both Fordham and Connecticut, but after he played in an Ivy game, the ECAC issued its ultimatum at its meeting Wednesday in New York.
But the displeasure of the ECAC, and consequently of the NCAA, with Yale is actually no more than its reflected bitterness with the AAU with whom it has struggled for several years over control of American amateur athletics.
Previously, the dispute had primarily been confined to track, where one organization would frequently prohibit its members from participating in a meet sanctioned by the other. But last summer the struggle broke out anew over sanctioning of American amateur participation in Israel's Maccabiah games, somewhat of a Jewish Olympics.
Langer expressed interest in playing for the American basketball team, received Yale's permission, and performed despite NCAA warnings that the move would cost him his collegiate eligibility. That briefly is the history of the crisis.
Langer is not really necessary to the success of Yale's squad this season, and it is unlikely that the Bulldogs will be invited to a post-season tournament. So Yale would lose little by dropping him.
But the NCAA has gone too far when it begins to exploit its member colleges for its own sometimes selfish purposes. Clearly, Yale is little more than the battleground for another in a series of dreary NCAA-AAU squabbles, and the penalizing of Yale, in sanctimonious frustration, makes the Bulldogs little more than whipping boys.
So Yale is making a courageous stand on principle, and unfortunately there are indications that it will find scant support from its fellow members in the controversy. So it is up to Harvard to give its strongest possible support to Yale, and urge the other members of the Ivy group to do so as well.
And if Yale is ultimately suspended, or even banished from NCAA and ECAC competition. Harvard and the Ivies should also withdraw, in protest, until the NCAA returns to carrying out the functions for which it was intended.
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