NCAA National Forum : Revenue-Sharing Idea Opposed by Georgetown Coach

Times Staff Writer

After listening to hours of opinions on how sports revenue should be shared during the National Collegiate Athletic Assn.'s National Forum Monday, Georgetown Coach John Thompson stepped to the microphone and asked: "Am I the only capitalist in this room?"

It was starting to seem that way after several speakers followed up on the early remarks of Robert Atwell, president of the American Council on Education, who said: "We must try to break the insidious connection between money and winning.

"In basketball there seems to be less sharing than in football, particularly when it comes to the NCAA Division I men's tournament. I have always been intrigued by Al McGuire's idea of dividing the NCAA postseason basketball pot of gold by the 275 or so institutions that play Division I men's basketball."

Atwell had some other suggestions. For example, he would cut the length of seasons.

"More than 85 baseball games is simply incompatible with the student-athlete ideal," Atwell said, "and a basketball season that begins with practice on Oct. 15 and ends after the first of April is an academic travesty. Postseason conference basketball tournaments are a redundancy justified and motivated only by the money they generate."

He also would eliminate athletic scholarships, going to need-based aid for athletes. He would eliminate freshman eligibility. And he said that coaches should be given long-term contracts that would relieve the pressure to win but add the responsibility for "appropriate conduct." He also would expect coaches to stress the supremacy of education over athletics.

Atwell was asked to stimulate debate in this, the second phase of the National Forum. None of his suggestions took the form of a proposal.

The first legislative sessions of this 82nd NCAA convention will begin this morning.

Thompson, who was among five people chosen to respond to the primary speakers, didn't disagree with everything Atwell said. But he couldn't go along with all the revenue-sharing ideas. Thompson said: "I certainly do sympathize with the concept . . . but that only works for Mother Teresa."

Michigan Athletic Director Don Canham said: "We keep talking about sharing wealth. Why don't we talk about sharing ideas." Canham said there are administrators, such as Mary Zimmerman at San Jose State and Barbara Hedges at USC, who have used good ideas to make programs financially successful.

Judith Holland, senior associate athletic director at UCLA, called for the delegates to start planning for change instead of embracing the status quo.

Neal Pilson, president of CBS Sports, told the delegates of the changes taking place in television, of the effect that the proliferation of cable television, independent stations and added networks will have on college sports revenue. Pilson said: "I am confident you will retain your share of audience right into the next century."

But Pilson defended the medium against those who blame television for the corruption in sports and the over-emphasis on winning because of the money that TV generates. Pilson pointed out that the money comes "with no strings attached."

NCAA Notes

At the annual NCAA Honors Luncheon (which was dedicated to recently retired executive director Walter Byers), Today's Top Six athletes recognized for athletic ability, academic excellence and leadership were linebacker Chuck Cecil of Arizona, swimmer Mary T. Meagher of California, shotputter Regina Cavanaugh of Rice, tight end Keith Jackson of Oklahoma, football star Gordie Lockbaum of Holy Cross and basketball center David Robinson of Navy. The athletes from 25 years ago who were honored were the Rev. Jesse Jackson, a former quarterback and linebacker at North Carolina A&T; attorney Terry Baker, a Heisman Trophy winner at Oregon State and a former Ram; Boston Mayor Raymond Flynn, a former basketball star at Providence College; real estate developer John Baker III, an All-American football player at Mississippi State who played for the Houston Oilers and San Diego Chargers; business executive Lee Roy Jordan, an All-American at Alabama who was a Pro Bowl player for the Dallas Cowboys, and corporate executive Pat Richter, a three-year letterman in basketball, football and baseball at the University of Wisconsin who played for the Washington Redskins.

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