Archive for Sunday, March 20, 2005

Mayer: NCAA no place for cheap shots

It’s time for Temple’s Chaney to get out of game

March 20, 2005


The dirtiest, ugliest, most cowardly play in basketball is the willful assassination of somebody who's airborne. I'm talking about undercuts, hammer-chops and the like while an individual is so vulnerable he can be killed, let alone injured, while driving to the hole or soaring for a rebound.

At least two legendary coaches from our area (Norm Stewart is NOT one of them) used to encourage hatchet-men to "make 'em pay." A lot of people got hurt. The penalties for such ought to be a lot harsher, and I think John Chaney either ought to retire or be fired at Temple.

Chaney put in a designated "goon" against Saint Joseph's to send a message and the result was a St. Joe's kid with a broken arm and a fractured season. You've seen the replay; the action was vicious. Even worse was that the coach empowered the hit man. First Chaney suspended himself for a game, then the school knocked him out for the rest of the season, then he was dry-docked for the league tournament. I'm glad Temple got knocked out of the NIT first off. St. Joe should have had an NCAA berth.

If Chaney, 73, stays, he and Temple will be constantly harangued about this incident and other indiscretions by the fiery coach over the years. It'll be a constant hassle, and I can't believe Chaney and Temple want that.

For years, the emotional Chaney has been regarded as a tyrant. He's been able to get away with that because people have let him do so, same as Bob Knight has remained a bully because he's been allowed to be one.

John Chaney has done a lot of good things. It's better to leave now when there is a chance some of the derision will fade. Another year will rehash and rehash Chaney's flaws to the point he'll be remembered far more for those than for his commendable achievements.


Let's see, with all the billions of dollars at stake in NCAA Tournament play, I think a team and its league get at least $150,000 to share for every game played. So with six teams in the original field, the Big 12 Conference started off garnering nearly $1 million. Add another $150,000 or so for each additional game. KU sure didn't help much this time.

In 1939 when KU's Phog Allen and Northwestern's Dutch Lonborg finally convinced the hierarchy that a national tournament was viable, Oregon prevailed over an eight-team field, beating Ohio State in the title game at Evanston, Ill. Lonborg, from KU, for years was tourney manager.

The NCAA lost money but each finalist took home a whopping $100. Next year, Phog convinced the NCAA to have its coaches' meeting and the Final Four in Kansas City, never realizing his Jayhawks would play Indiana for the title. Because of the KU following, the event grossed $10,000 and each team reaped $750 after the rent, heat, light and water had been paid for. So the stage was set and growth had begun. With the 1950s guidance of Walter Byers and Wayne Duke, the March Madness we know today was on the track and gaining momentum.

CBS plans to pay an NCAA Tournament rights fee of about $375 million this year. Long-range, we're talking $6 billion (that's a "b") for an 11-year period.

Whenever you talk about sports visionaries, Phog Allen, Dutch Lonborg, Wayne Duke and Walter Byers should always be among the top 10.


Don't look now, but better watch out for Oklahoma when you assess the 2005-06 Big 12 basketball picture. The Sooners will lose substitutes Johnnie Gilbert and Jaison Williams, but they bring back David Godbold, Terrell Everett, Drew Lavender, Kevin Bookout, Taj Gray and Lawrence McKenzie, and reportedly have at least four freshman and junior-college gems -- a la Taj Gray -- coming in.

Six of Oklahoma State's top seven are seniors, with freshman JamesOn Curry the only major-minute returnee. Kansas loses four senior mainstays. It returns Christian Moody and the marginal J.R. Giddens and Jeff Hawkins; five current freshmen dandies who for the most part have underperformed; then will bring in four high-profile rookies. But no league team will start out as strong as Kelvin Sampson's versatile Oklahoma machine. Bill Self faces a massive rebuilding job as does Okie State's Eddie Sutton.


Vintage Bill Self. The Kansas coach learned last Sunday that veteran loyalists Bob and Eleanor Nelson had been skunked (point-shy) as far as Jayhawk tickets for NCAA action. Bill was on the phone in five minutes. Said they should have contacted him. They stressed they didn't want to impose and that Bill had enough other things to worry about. At any rate, Self struck still another whopping blow for KU public relations, which needs all it can get. The Nelsons made it to the Bucknell Bummer and were frustrated like everyone else by the embarrassing Jayhawk Floppola. But good intentions prevailed.

Why don't The Suits in Allen Fieldhouse set up a plan proposed in an e-mail to me by a big-time Kansas basketball personality who deeply appreciates fans such as Bob and Eleanor.

He wrote: "The Nelsons shouldn't be denied the chance to cheer for their beloved Hawks because of the point system. Let's hope the athletic department will take action to rectify this. ... There are many 'Golden Hawk' fans out there who shouldn't be left out. I suggest they institute a 'Golden Hawk Club' for the special fans who have supported the university teams for 50-plus years. They certainly have paid a lot of money for tickets over the years and many of them have generously given money, too. Just not enough, evidently. With Nelly having been a season ticket-holder since about 1938, I would think he would be one of the first to qualify."

The athletic department ought to jump on the suggestion and mend some tattered fences. Even the heartiest Golden Hawks won't live forever, and there never are a lot of them. Why not provide such Old Jayhawks something a little special to honor their great records of allegiance? By the time they've been zealots for 50-plus years, they might also have kicked in some pretty nifty loot. It could become a "club" that people would strive for and covet -- at great benefit to KU.

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