CBS doubleheader has women taking basketball stage


This weekend, some of the diversity brought to CBS Sports by its $1 billion contract with the National Collegiate Athletic Association will be on display. The network paid that money to get exclusive rights to the NCAA men's basketball tournament, but the NCAA left a basketful of other sports on CBS' doorstep along with the receipt.

Tomorrow at 1 p.m., CBS (channels 11, 9) presents a women's basketball doubleheader -- Purdue-Auburn and Georgia-Iowa -- from Iowa's Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City. On Sunday at 1 p.m., the network will show taped highlights of the men's soccer championship and the women's volleyball title match, which was played last month at Cole Field House.

The last time a regular-season women's game was televised by a network, there wasn't even NCAA women's basketball. On Jan. 26, 1975, NBC carried a game between Maryland and Immaculata. Back then, the women's game was run by the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women.

"I saw the whole thing. I was such a rabid fan," Mimi Griffin, a former player and coach who will be CBS' analyst for the games, teaming with Brad Nessler, told The Associated Press. "I was playing for Pitt at the time, a freshman.

"We all, I mean the women's basketball community in general, thought this was incredible. At that time, women's basketball had a great resurgence."

But after that surge, fueled by the likes of Nancy Lieberman, Carol Blazejowski, Ann Meyers and Anne Donovan, the game became somewhat dormant, Griffin said, though Cheryl Miller -- later also a sportscaster -- came along afterward to give women's basketball another boost.

"Cheryl was tremendous for the game, not just for her physical abilities, but for her flamboyance," Griffin said. "She was in a media market [Los Angeles] that loved her style. The purists might not have liked her style, but she was great for the game.

"We've got some great teams, but we don't have players like that right now. We might have to select good players and teach them how to deal with the exposure and media, and how to best present themselves and the game."

Women's games have been shown on cable television, and CBS has carried the championship game, but tomorrow's doubleheader is important, Griffin said.

"There's something, perception-wise, about being on network television that's important," she said.

Brent Musburger and the National Football League are back together tomorrow. Musburger will call play-by-play on the National Football Conference first-round playoff game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins (12:30 p.m., channels 13, 7), working with former Eagles coach Dick Vermeil. Lynn Swann will be roaming the sidelines, though presumably with both feet out of bounds.

Immediately after, in the American Football Conference game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins, the "Monday Night Football" crew of Al Michaels, Dan Dierdorf and Frank Gifford is in the booth, with Bob Griese, the former Dolphins quarterback, reporting from the field.


NBC had nine cameras at the Federal Express Orange Bowl on Tuesday, but it still didn't come up with a definitive shot of the clipping call that cost Notre Dame a touchdown, a likely victory and -- who knows? -- perhaps even a national championship. . . . Because NFL playoff games present a conflict for Channel 2, Channel 11 is picking up two Atlantic Coast Conference basketball game this weekend and next -- Wake Forest-Georgia Tech on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. and Wake Forest-Clemson on Jan. 12 at 12:30 p.m. . . . The "Hoops" talk show Monday at 10 p.m. on WCAO (600 AM) will present a strong lineup. Guests of Stan "The Fan" Charles and Paul Baker will be Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski and Sports Illustrated's Alexander Wolff, author of "Raw Recruits," which details college recruiting abuses.

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