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COLLEGE BASKETBALL / GENE WOJCIECHOWSKI : Minimum Pay, Maximum Sweat

Wanted: Interim coach for two-time NCAA national championship team. Must be comfortable with Southern accents, 60-hour work weeks and pressures of ultra-competitive Atlantic Coast Conference. Position available until full-time coach completes back rehabilitation, at which point interim coach will become assistant in charge of scouting, development of pivot players, summer basketball camp and help with game-day preparation. Non-negotiable annual salary: $16,000 ($5.11 an hour). *

Welcome to Pete Gaudet’s world. On the cheap.

In what has to be the Division I salary bargain of the decade, Gaudet is allowed to earn no more than $16,000 as Duke’s designated restricted-earnings coach. It isn’t Duke’s fault. Thanks to legislation that took effect in 1992, Gaudet and hundreds of other assistant coaches around the country were saddled with the NCAA’s version of a salary cap.

Gaudet is 52. He has a wife, three young children and nearly 20 years of college coaching experience, including two seasons as head coach at Army and 12 as an assistant at Duke. For this, he’s making a little more than minimum wage.

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“And these are supposed to be my prime earning years,” he said.

Gaudet made about $20 during last Saturday’s game against Virginia, which is less than a good baby-sitter can earn in three hours. Maybe you saw him that day on ABC. Perspiration-soaked, beads of sweat sliding off his nose, Gaudet paced the steamy Cameron Indoor Stadium sidelines as the struggling Blue Devils lost in overtime to the visiting Cavaliers.

Wednesday night he led Duke against North Carolina State. Saturday he travels to Florida State. Three days later he faces Notre Dame on the road. Then to Maryland.

Gaudet, who will coach the team until Mike Krzyzewski completes at least several more weeks of doctor-ordered back rehabilitation, is a victim of NCAA cost-containment measures.

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In an effort to trim budgets, NCAA members voted to cut salaries. Not theirs, mind you, but Gaudet’s and those of others like him. And because it sounded nice, sponsors of the legislation said the restricted-earnings coach position would be the perfect opportunity for entry-level applicants.

Duke could have designated either of its two other assistants, but Gaudet was not interested in recruiting and the restricted-earnings coach is not allowed to recruit. So Gaudet took the designation, hoping to have the rule nullified in court. He sued in state court, but last week a judge ruled against him.

“The bottom line: The judge decided that since the NCAA is a voluntary organization, (it) can make a rule, however outlandish, and we have to follow it,” Gaudet said.

So Gaudet can make $12,000 in salary and up to $4,000 in, say, basketball camp revenue. On the side, he does some teaching, but not enough to make much of a difference on his W-2 form.

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Meanwhile, head coaches are allowed to make whatever they can. No NCAA rule about that.

GAUDET-DUKE--PART II

Jerry Roth, a former Beverly Hills lawyer who now practices in Allentown, Pa., is riding shotgun on a class-action suit filed in federal district court on behalf of 83 restricted-earnings assistant coaches. Naming the NCAA as the plaintiff, the suit claims the legislation violates antitrust laws.

No dummy, Roth invited Kansas Coach Roy Williams to attend the motions for summary judgment, which were argued in Kansas City on Nov. 30. Presiding over the case is Judge Kathryn Vratil, a Kansas graduate and apparent Jayhawk basketball fan. Think she recognized Williams?

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According to Roth, the NCAA attorneys are sweating the case. That doesn’t mean the NCAA will lose, but it does mean there’s a lot at stake. Roth calls it “the most important legal case in the history of intercollegiate athletics to come down the line.”

Fact or legal fiction?

“If the NCAA wins, then there will be no holds barred as far as controlling the earnings of head coaches, assistant coaches, contracts with shoe companies and things like that,” Roth said. “If the NCAA wins this case, it can say, ‘We are organized to regulate intercollegiate athletics without any regard to federal or state laws.’ ”

A decision is expected in three to six weeks.

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Until then, Gaudet, who, according to Roth, used to earn about $60,000 a year merely from Duke’s summer camps, considers leaving. He doesn’t want to, but $5.11 an hour isn’t what he had in mind when he went to Durham years ago.

“I would have to consider that, yeah,” he said. “I have to consider all options. That’s what a lot of guys have to do.”

If nothing else, Gaudet, 0-4 since replacing Krzyzewski, hasn’t lost his sense of humor. Asked if he considered himself the blue-light special of coaches, Gaudet deadpanned, “Not if you go by wins and losses.”

RAVELING UPDATE

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Former USC coach George Raveling should have resigned years ago.

Since his November announcement, which was prompted by a near-fatal automobile accident, Raveling has been swamped with job feelers. At last check, the list of possible career moves had reached double digits.

Three intriguing possibilities:

--The soon-to-be Big 12 Conference has asked him to apply for the league commissioner’s job. Considering the Big 12’s move into Texas, its expanded regional influence and its excellence in both football and basketball, the job could offer Raveling national clout and a forum to push for NCAA reform.

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--ESPN, whose officials met with Raveling earlier this week at the network’s headquarters in Bristol, Conn., is interested in hiring him as a basketball analyst.

--For reasons unknown, Arizona State has yet to renew the contract of Athletic Director Charles Harris, whose current deal ends June 30. Harris, a member of the powerful Division I Men’s Basketball Committee, as well as the important NCAA Financial Aid and Amateurism Committee, doesn’t deserve to be cut loose. But if it happens, Raveling has emerged as a possible replacement.

And only a suggestion, but the National Assn. of Basketball Coaches would be smart to involve Raveling in some sort of official capacity. Several years ago, Raveling was offered the NABC executive director job, but turned it down.

Raveling and longtime attorney Roth met Wednesday in Scottsdale, Ariz., where they co-own a house. No word yet on Raveling’s job plans or preferences.

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CALL COLLECT

Item: The Black Coaches Assn. announces it will no longer work within the NCAA system to affect change in what it considers racially insensitive legislation. Among its new policies: Seek assistance from outside groups (translation: Rev. Jesse Jackson) to influence black athletes in their scholarship choices.

Reaction from BCA member and Wyoming Coach Joby Wright: The BCA did what?

“The thing I’m really concerned about is it’s the first time I’ve heard anything,” said Wright, who wasn’t consulted, polled or even contacted about the BCA policy shift. “I guess we’re out here on the front range.”

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Of course, there are telephones in Wyoming, but apparently the BCA ran out of quarters.

“I’ve got to wait and see what the BCA is talking about,” Wright said.

THE REST

Cult star of the season? None other than Iowa State senior swingman Fred Hoiberg, who is big in Ames, but virtually unknown outside the Big Eight Conference. Hoiberg, nicknamed “the Mayor,” had 32 points--17 in a row during the second half--in last Saturday’s upset of Kansas and may be the main reason for the Cyclones’ second-best start in school history. “You hate to use the word great, but I’m going to use it with Fred,” said first-year Iowa State Coach Tim Floyd. “He’s as good as I’ve ever been around.”

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Ohio State Athletic Director Andy Geiger didn’t exactly use chisel and stone when announcing that Coach Randy Ayers’ job was safe for the rest of the season. “We’re committed to rebuilding a program with Randy,” Geiger told reporters. “He’s signed seven kids, some that are pretty good.” Some? Three seasons ago Ohio State reached the final eight of the NCAA tournament. This season the Buckeyes will be lucky to win eight games.

Well, you can pretty much forget about Kansas’ Williams becoming an honorary member of the NCAA public relations department. Williams said the recent NCAA convention, which supposedly had the student-athletes’ best interests at heart, was a flop. Williams was particularly steamed that delegates voted against two pieces of legislation: a proposal that would have allowed players to hold part-time jobs and one that would have allowed academic non-qualifiers to earn back a fourth year of eligibility. “We put on this disguise that we were concerned about student-athlete welfare,” Williams said. “We weren’t.” He added: “We take $1.725 billion (the amount of the new CBS contract with the NCAA for basketball tournament TV rights), pat ourselves on the back, but we’re not concerned about student athletes. We stick (the money) in our pockets.”

For the first time since 1983, Duke might not earn an NCAA tournament bid. The Blue Devils, who have the second-longest tournament appearance streak, need, at the absolute minimum, a 7-9 ACC record and 16 total victories. Good luck. Duke, 9-7 after Wednesday night’s loss to North Carolina State, has only five home games, including visits by North Carolina and Maryland, before the conference tournament. The Blue Devils also have nonconference road games against Notre Dame and UCLA.

Former Pepperdine coach Tom Asbury has moved on to Kansas State, but his daughter Megan remains a student at the Malibu campus. When the recent rains hit, Asbury called to see if everything was OK. It was. Still: “Malibu is the natural-disaster capital of the world,” he said. Not exactly the recruiting slogan Pepperdine was looking for. . . . Utah (13-3, 4-1) travels to Laramie, Wyo., for tonight’s big Western Athletic Conference game against the surprising Cowboys (8-6, 4-1). Utah Coach Rick Majerus’ most pressing concern about the trip: “Oh, I guess if I can get to a restaurant by 10 o’clock.”

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Top 10

As selected by staff writer Gene Wojciechowski

No. Team Record 1. Connecticut 13-0 2. Massachusetts 11-1 3. North Carolina 13-1 4. Kentucky 11-2 5. Kansas 12-2 6. Maryland 13-3 7. UCLA 9-1 8. Arizona 12-3 9. Iowa State 14-2 10. Syracuse 13-1

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Waiting list: Arkansas (14-3), Michigan State (11-2), Arizona State (12-3), New Mexico State (13-3), Georgetown (11-2)


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