"I'm not sure if there's going to be a boycott, but you'd better bet your bottom dollar that if there is one, Nolan Richardson is on his way out," Richardson proclaimed yesterday during a teleconference of Southeastern Conference coaches.
The referenced boycott, of course, is a threatened walkout by members of the Black Coaches Association over a series of votes taken at recent NCAA conventions.
The most recent is the 191-119 vote this week to deny the restoration of one of the two scholarships cut from Division I men's basketball programs two years ago.
The bulk of media coverage has focused on the scholarship issue, but it's just the latest matter to draw the BCA's ire.
Of more importance is the coming legislation that will require incoming college freshmen in 1995 to carry a 2.5 grade-point average in their core courses if their combined Scholastic Assessment Test scores are 700.
Currently, a student with a 2.0 GPA needs a 700 SAT total score, but in 1995, the same student will have to have a 900 to avoid the sanctions of Proposition 48.
"We've become a people of Props," said Richardson. "We've become a number. I'm totally upset with that."
Richardson is speaking of black students, who have been the overwhelming victims of the NCAA Presidents Commission's well-meaning, but misguided attempts at educational reforms.
The presidents, who have voted in a series of reforms, usually over the objections of college basketball coaches, have attempted to clean up intercollegiate athletics by limiting the number of questionable students, while doing little to require their schools to educate the kids once they got there.
And the brunt of the stigma attached to Prop 48 fell on black students, who historically score lower on standardized tests than whites and other minorities, but often perform above expectations once given the opportunity.
For instance, in a recent NCAA study, black and white football and basketball players were graduating at a rate that was higher or at leastas high as the general male population among students who arrived before the original Prop 48 was enacted.
In other words, once a kid gets the chance, he does OK. What a revolutionary concept!
No one's hands are clean in this matter.
Many of the big-time coaches, such as Richardson, would carry a lot more moral force in this matter if they would, for example, funnel some of their shoe contract and television money into scholarship programs, as well as guarantee kids a full four-year ride, rather than the one-year renewable deals that currently exist.
But, on this issue, the BCA has a slam-dunk working.
Missing the forest . . .
By shielding her players from the media, as she did after Wednesday's loss to George Washington, Maryland women's coach Chris Weller seems to be driving home the point to her slumping 7-5 team that press clippings come with improved play.
Unfortunately, she is missing the point that the largely under-publicized women's game needs as much notice as it can get.
Keeping players away from the press is hardly the way to get people interested in your program, especially at a time when it could use all the public support it can get.
Weller kept on her roll Wednesday when she suggested after the 77-67 loss to the Colonials that George Washington had ducked playing Maryland, long the behemoth in the Washington area, until the Terps were in a rebuilding phase.
"I've called over there a lot of times and there has been no answer a lot of times. We tried to get a home-and-home series last year and forsome strange reason, we ended up playing Tennessee," said GW coach Joe McKeown, referring to Maryland's 1992 holiday tournament, where the Colonials lost to the then-top-ranked Volunteers, while the Terps drubbed Howard, 101-46, in the opening round.
One unfortunate sidelight of the brouhaha that has erupted over the reduction in scholarships is carping from men's coaches about women's programs being allowed to carry 15 players, two more than the men.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and Florida State coach Pat Kennedy were particularly incensed about the extra women's scholarships.
"All you guys are writing so much about gender equity. Why don't you write about this in gender equity?" said Kennedy.
The reason is simple, or at least as Auburn women's coach Joe Ciampi sees it.
"I have concerns for what they [men's coaches] are going through," said Ciampi. "But if you look at the numbers, there is no equality in any gender-equity situation. We are, by far, light-years away in terms of support that you would expect at the college level."
Can't anybody shoot straight?
The next time you're poring over the box scores in the paper, notice how many teams are finding it difficult to put 70 points on the scoreboard in a game.
Vanderbilt men's coach Jan van Breda Kolff, for instance, says one reason for reduced scoring is the newer, wider channels on the basketball's surface.
"The wider seams on the balls have taken some adjustments for the players. That, and the fact that you don't see as many people getting as many good looks at the basket and as many uncontested shots," said van Breda Kolff.
Upset pick of the week
Flush from the recent Towson State triumph over American, bringing the record to 3-1 under the revised scoring system, the Upset Pick moves on undaunted, looking for Minnesota, fresh from Wednesday's big win over Wisconsin, to repel Michigan next Thursday.