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September 16, 1991 - Image 11

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1991-09-16

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The Michigan Daily - Sports Monday- September 16,1991 - Page 3

The author and former tennis star talks
of minority problems in college sports

Jeff Sheran

Arthur Ashe has achieved fame
in many ways, most notably as a ten-
nis player. Winner of Wimbledon,
the U.S. Open, and other major
events, Ashe co-founded the Assoc-
iation of Tennis Professionals
(ATP). But recently, Ashe has been
known for his extensive work as an
author and speaker about minority
athletes. As a Black athlete at
UCLA in the early 1960s, Ashe
dominated the collegiate tennis cir-
cuit, and has since won an Emmy
award for the television adaptation
of his book A Hard Road to Glory.
Here are some excerpts from his in-
terview with Daily Sports Editor
Jeff Sheran.
D : You talk a lot about
Proposition 48, how athletes aim
for the 700 on the SAT and how
they should be aiming higher. Can
you discuss that a little?
A: Well, the Prop. 48 was a first
attempt by the NCAA to reduce the
exploitation of the Black athlete.
Let's make no mistake, Prop. 48
was aimed at Black male athletes.
Zealous coaches would bring them
in, knowing that the kids in many,
many cases had no chance of graduat-
ing. But in so doing, it (Prop. 48) set
as a Holy Grail an abominably low
figure. 700 is laughable, which is
not to say that there are not some
students who if they try very hard
may have scored below 700 total on
their SATs, or around or just below
a 2.0 grade point average. And if
they try very hard, yes they might
graduate in five years or so, maybe.
But that is a very, very small minor-
Put another way, for me, the
worst blow of all is that unspoken
and unwritten in setting the mini-
mum of 700 was the idea of setting a
minimum that, "even Black athletes
could pass."
And so now I have used several
examples of minority high school
student athletes who when learning
that they have taken the SAT exam
and scored over 700 the first time
they jumped for joy. And I'm saying
to myself, "What the fuck are they
talking about here? What's going on
here? It's ridiculous."
D: Michigan, which is generally
well regarded for its academics, I
recall last year signed a recruit and
he got an 840. Now, that's great
conpared to the 700, but an 840,
they'd never look at it in the admis-
sions office otherwise.
A: And that's the other irony to
the situation. If you are a terrific
athlete and minority and you score
701 on your SAT and you have a 2.0
grade point average you are among
the most sought after people in the
country. But if you are just an aver-
age student, it doesn't matter
whether you're a minority or not,
and you score 850 on your SAT and
have a 2.5, you ain't getting into the
University of Michigan.
You have a lot of Black parents
saying, "wait a minute now. You are
showering this kid who may have
scored under 700 with all these
scholarship offers and you know he
ain't going to graduate. Now ex-

plain that."
D: I guess people like Rumeal
Robinson who came here and was
Prop. 48 and they discover he was
dyslexic, how much of an exception
is he?
A: He is an exception. Even Tony
Rice was an exception. He scored
680 on his SAT and couldn't play
football at Notre Dame as a fresh-
man. But he has done well.
You certainly, cannot use those
two exceptions, and there are very
few, as examples of what could
happen if you, as John Chaney once
said, "give the kid a chance." I'm all
for giving kids a chance, but I'd like
to see them get there chances a little
Let me put the problem another
way, obviously looking at it from
the standpoint of the Black student-
athlete. In the 300 or so Division I
schools in the NCAA, 200 or so
have basketball and 100 super
schools that field quality teams of
both, there are roughly 10,000 Black
student-athletes in football and
basketball. Now if, as we hear in the
American Council on Education re-
ports, the average tuition at four-
'The worst blow of all
is that unspoken and
unwritten in setting
the minimum of 700
was the idea of
setting a minimum
that 'even Black
athletes could pass"
year schools, public and private, is
now more than $10,000 a year, the
average time it takes to graduate for
anybody is five-and-a-half years. So
if you multiply 10,000 Black stu-
dent-athletes by just say five years,
times $10,000 per year, you come up
with a figure of half a billion dol-
lars that society has to find every
five years.
If the graduation rate for those
students is what it is, and we're
talking football being slightly
higher than basketball, but certainly
between 18 and 25 percent in five
years, it seems to me that it doesn't
take a Norman Schwarzkopf to real-
ize that there's a lot of wasted
money there.
Let me put it another way as I
explained it to a group of Texas so-
cial studiestteachers. Ifesociety
handed a representative sample of
Black educators a check for half a
billion dollars, and said spend as
you would like over the next five
years, do you think they would give
it to athletes who score in or around
700? Hell no.
So I am pleased that after one
year of the student's right to know
law that schools are going to see
their names in the press with gradu-
ation rates attached. Obviously, if
those numbers are not good, I am
certain that are going to be some lo-
cal groups saying, "what the hell's
going on here."
D:When you say that a lot of the

money is wasted like that, are you
blaming the universities?
A: I blame the universities for
taking advantage of the high, false,
psychic value that a lot of Black
student-athletes, especially boys,
have concerning success in sports.
We all know, for instance, that it
takes less to even entice a key Black
athletic recruit to a school than it
does a white because Blacks usually
have less. So, they will be satisfied
with less. We're talking now, in
terms of illegal bribes. Even though
it's illegal for both white and Black
student-athletes, it is widely known
that it may not take much at all to
entice a Black student-athlete and
his family to go to a particular
school, because they want that
scholarship so badly.
On the other hand, there's cer-
tainly some culpability in the Black
community, who continue to deify
success in sports to the detriment of
so many other things.
The occasion which will bring, in
many cases, more minority parents
to a school event is a Friday after-
noon or night football or basketball
game. You will see few of them, by
and large, at PTA meetings. There
are many reasons for that, but it's a
fact. It's something we, as African-
Americans, need to address and be
very truthful and frank about.
D: The universities do provide
the opportunity for an education. Do
you think that it's just a token op-
A: In a comparative sense, a stu-
dent-athlete who is in college,
whether he's attending class or not,
is probably better off then one who
is not in college. But many of the
student-athletes who do graduate
are getting degrees in very soft sub-
jects. And in fact, some schools have
created special majors with minimal
academic qualifications just so they
can say that some of these students
are getting degrees.
But truthfully, having that de-
gree even though it may be a soft
subject is certainly better than not
having a degree. And that means that
There's certainly
some culpability in
the Black community,
who continue to deify
success in sports to
the detriment of so
many other things'
you will have attended class, you
will be much better off than you
would have been had you not at-
tended class or gotten your degree.
What I'm saying is that in gen-
eral a lot of colleges have lowered
their own standards. They have im-
pugned their own academic integrity
by trying to accommodate students
as athletes when with the same aca-
demic minimum qualifications they
(the admissions officers) wouldn't
have even thought of accepting those
students. And those students would
have to go to a junior college or
community college or other institu-

tion of higher education with lower
academic standards.
D: Do you think, when the uni-
versity goes out to the inner-city to
handpick the athletes it wants, do
they then have a responsibility to
that community?
A: I don't think it should be any
different from any other student it
brings in. If it did it probably had
arisen from guilty feelings; but cer-
tainly the local people who live
there have a much stronger obliga-
tion to see that if you're going to
take from us then they (the commu-
nity) will get something back.
Usually that's in the form of one of
their own going to a big name
school, graduating, doing well, and
coming back and contributing.
D: What do you see as a viable
A: Well, I think the NCAA is
incrementally beginning to address
the issue. They are taking baby steps
toward an ever-continually elusive
goal of trying to prove to the world
that: one, they can police them-
selves, two, that they're no longer
exploiting minority student-ath-
letes, and three, having these schools
remain within the family of NCAA
athletic competitions is not im-
pugning their academic integrity at
the same time.
D: Do you find it curious that
the NCAA is comprised of almost
all athletic directors who are white
A: No. I don't think it would
change too much even if they were
D: Do you think that it is more
economic than racial?
A: Yes. In the sense that the bot-
tom line requires a lot of these ath-
letic directors to say "Look, if we
have a program that is Division I,"
which means that you have to field
teams in a certain amount of sports
and you have to pay for it; and the
only two sports that can pay for it
are football and basketball....
When the list of delinquent
schools was published, after the
first year the student's right to
know law was passed by Senator
Bradley and Congressman McMil-
lan, and you looked at the poor
performances of some of the
schools, some of the worst schools
mentioned were Black schools.
Predominantly Black colleges.
Look, they are and should be very
embarrassed by that. And they offer
all sorts of explanations, but the
bottom line is that if they are not
coming to the situation between
them then they can hardly expect
the white schools to do that.

Holtz finally unjinxes
Moeller, Michigan
Michigan beat Notre Dame. Kind of silly that it's such a big deal,
isn't it? I mean, Michigan always used to beat Notre Dame. The two
teams always used to beat each other.
But when the Irish won four straight, the matchup became an obses-
sion for Wolverine fans. No one could figure out Notre Dame's mystical
reasons for always winning.
Except me. I always knew. I knew from watching Irish coach Lou
Holtz very closely when he spoke about his opponents.
When Michigan won Saturday, it was a great victory. But leading up
to the game, the talk of Ann Arbor and South Bend was that Michigan
couldn't beat Notre Dame. It was almost as if someone put a jinx on
Imagine if that were the case, that Michigan was jinxed. It's not that
extraordinary, if you think about it.
You remember Jinx, that stupid game only the kid down the block
with no future was good at. You and that kid would say the same thing
simultaneously, and he would scream,"Jinx!"
You hated that kid, but secretly wondered what became of him. I
know what became of him. He became the coach at Notre Dame.
Doesn't Holtz just strike you as that ignoble type? Like Francis, the
rich kid who wanted Pee Wee Herman's bike?
But stupider. The kind of guy that calls 1-900 polls, pays 95 cents per
call, and votes undecided.
Picture Lou Holtz and Gary Moeller speaking to the media one day.
Each is delivering the obligatory pregame eulogies that give his opponent
a false sense of inflation and covers the coach's behind should his team
Moeller opens the episode. "They have a lot of balance and everybody
talks about them not being as fast, but in reality they've got a lot of
young guys who are going to come on and make a name. They've got one
of the fastest teams they've had. They have some people to replace but
they also have a lot of talent and they are an excellent football team."
Holtz hears this and becomes inspired. After all, he's having flashes
of childhood, when he was bad at everything except Jinx.
"Michigan is obviously one of the great teams in the country this
year. In fact, Sports Illustrated ranked them number one coming into the
year. It's never easy to go on the road, particularly when we're taking a
young team on the road to a place like Ann Arbor. I don't know when
we've ever played a Michigan team that didn't have a tough, rugged, fun-
damentally sound defense and it won't be any different this time. We're
going to have to play very;very well."
He's eyeing Moeller. An old pro, Holtz is just waiting to pounce.
Along comes the self-deprecating banter. Then the tired jokes. And
then it happens.
Moeller and Holtz open their mouths at once and say, "I don't know
how we're gonna win this one."
They pause. In his crowning moment, Holtz exclaims, "Jinx!"
And it's done. Moeller is jinxed, and Michigan can never beat Notre
How else can you justify some of the ridiculous plays that have gone
against the Wolverines since 1987? I'd go through them, but the list
evokes memories only slightly more pleasant than my last dental visit.
Michigan must have been jinxed. Even Moeller acknowledges the
"You know it's not a jinx, yet there is one. I don't think our kids felt
like they couldn't beat them."
Yet they couldn't. Not until Holtz unjinxed them, which he eventu-
ally did.
"I'm sure Gary Moeller has prepared his team as well as any coach in
the country."
What was Lou thinking? He said Moeller's name. Everybody knows
the only way to keep someone jinxed is never to say his name. He got so
caught up in his silly coach's rhetoric that he forgot that cardinal rule, a
blunder which cost him the Irish's domination over Michigan.
Holtz committed the grand faux pas of the game of Jinx. After the
game, Holtz said his team "had to come in and play a perfect game, and
we didn't."
And you thought he was talking about football.


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