THURSDAY, 3ANUARY 25, 1968
THE MICHIGAN DAILY
THRDAJAURY2,198TH ICIA DIk AE EE
By JOEL BLOCK
Nationally-known track and
field stars will form their own
organization and, add their voice
to the NCAA-AAU squabble at a
closed meeting in Detroit March
15, The Daily has learned.
Ralph Boston, spokesman for
the group, explained their organ-
ization "will be composed solely:
of athletes to represent only ath-
"The bickering of the AAU and
the United States Track and
Field Federation (which repre-
sents the NCAA) over which one
has the right to sanction track
meets is an issue which concerns
the kitchen cynic
Cazzie Russell and Loneliness
The first time I ever saw Cazzie Russell play basketball was
my sophomore year in high school. It was in the annual Chicago
Daily News Public League basketball tournament, held at the
University of Chicago Field House.
I saw two games that Carver (Cazzie's school) played. In the
first, a quarter-final match, Cazzie scored a record 47 points as Carver
defeated another South Side school, Harlan, handily. However, in the
championship game, Du Sable, led by the fanfastic Lynn brothers,
Lonie and Russell, wiped out Carver and Cazzie 67-35.
That particular Carver team went on to defeat Du Sable, minus
Lonnie Lynn, a January graduae, in the state tournament, winning
everything but the championship game which they lost by a single
W point. It was ironic that thenext year, after Cazzie was gone, a Carver
team featuring little Ken Maxey of Wolverine fame at one of the
guards and ageless Joe Allen now at Bradley, at center won the state
During my freshman year as a manager I swept the Yost court
regularly, attiring myself gaudily in a madras-like sweater and bright
red socks. In the days of Cazzie's glory this was an exciting thing to
$ do because Olde Yost was filled to capacity every week. There was
a tradition that managers raced each other up and down the court.
All -year long myself and another freshman manager raced
back and forth, the fans urging us on, somewhat sadistically I imagine.
Finally quite a bitter rivalry developed between the two of us and after
one especially heated race we nearly come to blows.
The fans ate it up.
The above may seem irrelevant to Cazzie but it really isn't be-
cause it shows the total fervor and excitement which the Cazzie era
generated. Nowadays managers down in the palatial Events Building
could run for miles and nobody would even notice them. But during
Cazzie's time everything-the wild gestures of Dave Strack and Jim
Skala at harassed referees, the tenacious beauty of George Pomey's
defense, the awesome power of Bill Buntin and Oliver Darden under
tte backboards--took on an aura of spectacle.
Cazzie did that to people. He played basketball in a sort of
feverish ecstasy and he spread the ecstasy to his teammates,
coaches, and undeniably, the Yost fans. Elvin Hayes' magic per-
formance against UCLA last Saturday night was but a slight
exaggeration of what Cazzie did 15 times in Yost.
I didn't get to know Cazzie very well my freshman year. He was
very suspicious of almost everyone. He would often steal a sideward
glance at fans or spectators watching him practice in Yost. He needed
their recognition and appreciation from a distance but he was wary
of ones who approached him because they usually wanted to use
him for something. I believe he became that way only after trying
genuinely to be friendly to everyone. But he found that if he shook an
Alumn's hand one day, the same showy Alum would bring ten more
hands for him the next time, and each of those ten would bring their
It was inevitable that he should withdraw. It was also unfortunate.
During his first two years at the University, living in South Quad,
he was not pestered or bothered much, and thus was able to develop
some genuine friendships based on personality rather than scoring
average. But with fame came the vultures. His senior year he told
4 me that he had not been able to make a new friend in two years.
He firmly believed that most people wanted only to get what
they could from him. Nobody really gave a damn for him-what
he really was inside. He looked upon it somewhat philosophically
but still very unhappily, stating that a lonely existence was
probably an unavoidable consequence of the fame and fortune he
The loneliness was there when he was with his teammates too.
Cazzie always sat alone on the plane. Often he ate alone. The other
players talked about him, made fun of him behind his back and he
knew it. There were lots of reasons for this.
Mainly it was because Cazzie couldn't deal with his fame and
glory in a manner that would keep him a part of the group. Darden,
John Thompson, Pomey and the others were jealous of Cazzie's pub-
licity. Cazzie could see it but he couldn't rid himself of its seductive
power over him. Unconsciously, he tended to act superior, somewhat
like a fourth coach.
Though it may well be true that there was this quiet bitterness
on the Michigan team, I don't believe that it in any way affeced
the team's performance on the court. Playing, they had one pur-
pose-to win, all of them including Cazzie. They may not have
loved coach Dave Strack either but they played ball for him and
they were fired up by him. The commonest criticism of Strack is
that Cazzie, rather than Strack's coaching, was responsible for the
wins of those years.
This is bunk.
There aren't ten ,coaches in the country who could have handled
the various personalities and abilities of those athletes with the skill
that Strack did. He kept the team balanced and reasonably happy in
# spite of the tremendous pressure which built up inside and outside
on him and the players.
Tomorrow: Shooting free throws with Cazzie
the athletes more than anyone,"
argued Boston, world record hold-
er in the long jump.
"Neither side, however, has ever
asked for our opinion. So now
we're going to formally get to-
gether in a way we'll have to be
The group has already said it
will boycott the Olympics if the
AAU bans any member of the
group Yor competing in a Febru-
ary 9 meet in Madison Square
Because the USTFF, sponsor of
the meet, has not asked for an
AAU sanction, AAU President
Col. Donald Hull has threatened
all athletes competing with
The group first met in Chicago
Sunday, from where it issued its
boycott threat. Included in the
group were Jim Ryun of Kansas,
Gerry Lindgren of Washington
State, Ed Caruthers of Arizona
and Richmond Flowers of Ten-
nessee. Others, who do not have
collegiate status, were Jim Grelle,
Tommie Smith (still attending
Southern Cal but already finished
with his eligibility), George
Young and Boston.
According to Boston, the group
will contact other track and field
athletes in a membership cam-
paign after the organization has
"We have drawn up a list of
people to contact already," ad-
mitted Boston. "Each of us will
go back and sing praises of the
organization in their own section
of the country. The idea is to
contact the other athletes at the
weekend track meets and per-
suade them to attend the meet-
ing in Detroit."
Many of the nation's best
trackmen will already be in Cobo
Hall in Detroit, participating in
the NCAA track championships
held there on March 15 and 16.
Boston, however, said there is no
connection between the new ath-
lete's association and the NCAA.
"We want to stay away from any
bond with the NCAA or any other
organization. We want to be our-
selves and on our own feet."
Boston stated the athletes' po-
sition on the track feud between
the USTFF (United States Track
and Field Federation) and the
AAU: "We're not going to let a
bunch of people who never put on
track shoes tell us what to do.
Both parties have never asked us
how we felt about it and now we
want our say.
"There's not one elected of-
ficial in the AAU," Boston went
on, "and they've been trying to tell
SPORTS NIGHT EDITOR:
is what track meets we can run
in and which ones we can't. We
should have the right to say some-
thing about the rules and by-laws
which the AAU make in reference
to the athletes competing in their
Boston said he is in favor of
Senator Robert Griffin's proposal
for a bill of rights for amateur
athletes. "This is exactly what we
are saying. We want the right to
compete in track meets without
fear of suspension from the AAU
or any other outside organization.
"The amateur status of an ath-
lete," he went on, "should depend
only on whether or not he accepts
money for competing."
Dr. Marcus Plant, President of
the NCAA, said yesterday that he
favored the creation of the new
"body. The amateur athlete has
been forgotten in the whole dis-
pute (with the AAU)," he said.
"They have been subject to a lot
of abuse the past few years such
as Jim Ryun losing his mile
Plant added, "One problem
they'll have is that the member-
ship of the organization will be
continually changing. But this is
"One thing for sure, they'll be
Copyright, 1968,The Michigan Daily
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