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Archive for Tuesday, February 2, 1993

OH BABY!

February 2, 1993

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ESPN broadcaster Dick Vitale exuded charisma Monday in a speech that covered his baldness, his job and, of course, what's right and wrong about college basketball.

"They say bald-headed guys are sexy!" the shiny-domed Vitale screamed at a Rotary Club luncheon in the Lawrence Holidome.

In his enthusiastic and controversial speaking style, Vitale proclaimed: "When I think about my life it blows my mind. I'm the biggest overachieving dummy in America."

Vitale, a former high school, college and professional basketball coach, loves his job as an ESPN college basketball analyst. He's been with the TV sports network since 1979.

He was in Lawrence for the "Big Monday" Kansas-Missouri game at Allen Fieldhouse.

"I just yell, `Better get a TO (timeout) baby. Hey, (MU Coach) Norm (Stewart), you're in trouble. Get a TO baby,'" said Vitale, imitating his "Vitale-ism" broadcasting style.

"Are you kidding me? They pay me good money for that!"

VITALE SAID there's too much focus on winning in U.S. college basketball. Academics often take a back seat to securing the next victory, he said.

"The bottom line is very simple at the major institutions," he said. "You better win, baby, and you better win big."

He said that too many alumni have unrealistic expectations of players and that some college athletes aren't disciplined enough to accept academic responsibility.

KU Coach Roy Williams shouldn't be bothered with questions about last season's NCAA Tournament loss to UTEP or this year's loss to underdog Long Beach State, Vitale said.

"When you really, really look at the whole picture how big is it? How important is it?" he said.

VITALE PICKED KU as his preseason No. 1 club. KU and five other teams North Carolina, Michigan, Indiana, Duke and Kentucky make up the nation's elite, he said. Indiana deserves the No. 1 ranking now, he said.

"But I picked Kansas No. 1 in my magazine. They better go out there and make me look like a genius. Give me a break!" he said.

Vitale said first-year college students shouldn't participate in intercollegiate athletics. Students need time to adjust to college life before taking on sports, he said.

"It would solve a lot of problems in college athletics, but it will never happen," he said.

He said Proposition 48 athletes recruits who don't pass NCAA academic standards should be allowed to practice with their college team even though they aren't eligible to play in games.

"What do you think? That he's in the library from 3 to 5? He's playing basketball at the rec center or somewhere. Why not let them have supervision?" he asked.

PROP 48 students also should receive scholarship aid and have an opportunity to secure a fourth year of athletic eligibility.

"If he proves over three years that he can do the academic work, he should get that extra year of eligibility," Vitale said.

Vitale on other issues:

Indiana Coach Bobby Knight.

"He has a very difficult time handling losing. He really hasn't learned, after all these years, how to handle failure," he said.

ESPN basketball broadcaster Jim Valvano, who has inoperable bone cancer.

"He's got a tough battle on his hands," Vitale said. "He inspires me."

Coaches yelling at referees.

"Certain coaches, because of their stature, are able to say more. Great referees don't listen," Vitale said.

How would you change college basketball?

"That's easy," he said. Move the three-point field goal shooting line back another 18 inches to 21 feet, he said.

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