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This newspaper has not exactly championed the cause of John Yovicsin as coach of the Harvard football team. I believe that more could be done with the talent that finds its way to Cambridge, and I think Adolph Samborski is wise to talk about the "program" with this year's seniors. But I also feel that Yovicsin, as an individual, is being stepped on by some Harvard officials who don't like the fact that he was hired as a special assistant at Suffok Downs race track.
Yovicsin had permission to get a part-time job as long as it did not interfere with his coaching duties here. Timewise, it seems clear that this new position will not cut into the hours he must spend at Harvard. Samborski, who is director of Athletics, would not say yesterday what his reasons were for disapproving of the race track job, and since we have ruled out a time element, it is safe to presume that the gambling at a race track is considered a threat to the lily-white name of Harvard.
Yovicsin's job is to lure various organizations to Suffolk Downs and to persuade them to entertain friends and visitors there. Unless one frowns on business, and I doubt that Harvard officials do, this position is certainly above reproach. But our football coach will probably come in contact with some gamblers, and perhaps Harvard fears that in a moment of weakness he will fall prey to their evil instincts.
At any rate, since Yovicsin is a Harvard employee, the University considers him a representative of Harvard, and Lord knows how the public would react to this association, however, with gambling. First of all, it is unfair to tag Yovicsin with the Harvard name in his outside employment, and secondly, why the hell must we worry so much about the people whose feathers will be ruffled by Yovicsin's new job? Yovicsin should be free to act as an individual, and Harvard should not let a small segment of public opinion negate that right.
The situation is worsened by the refusal of University officials to talk openly about the subject. They have grudgingly admitted that Yovicsin did not have specific permission to get this position and that they are displeased. But they have not agreed to claborate on their feelings. One wonders what they are ashamed, or afraid, to say. Are they perhaps a bit reluctant to admit that they are afraid of public opinion, or are they avoiding a statement to the effect that he must choose between the two jobs? We can only guess, but we can probably guess with reasonable accuracy. Their silence on the subject forces us to do so.
Not only is it a travesty that Harvard should offer him a choice between the two, but it would be disgraceful if the University seized upon this opportunity to send Yovicsin on his way, thereby ridding Harvard of a coach who has not measured up to its expectations on the field. Such a suggestion will obviously receive no documentation from Harvard officials, but is a reasonable conjecture nevertheless. There are indications that Yovicsin has agreed to quit Suffolk Downs before starting work there, so Harvard will not have the chance to kiss him goodbye because of a refusal to resign from the new post.
Rights and Responsibilities
Harvard has been negligent of John Yovicsin's rights as an individual. If University officials did indeed give him an either-or ultimatum, they should retract it and tell him what he does with his extra time is his business, not Harvard's.
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