Independent Press-Telegram from Long Beach, California on July 16, 1961 · Page 114
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Independent Press-Telegram from Long Beach, California · Page 114

Long Beach, California
Issue Date:
Sunday, July 16, 1961
Page 114
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AN INTERVIEW WITH RED GRANGE n ±M,. college sports by LLOYD SHEARER Y ou CAN READ IT as easily as the top line of an optometrist's chart. Big lime college Basketball in this country is as clean as the Chinese sewerage system. Frank Hogan, veteran crime-busting District Attorney oF New York City, made that fact indisputably clear a few weeks ago when a New York Grand J u r y indicted former college basketball stars on charges of conspiracy and bribery. They were accused of joining with hoodlum gnm- blers in bribing fellow players, usually at §1,000 a night, to throw games or keep their scores down. The basketball scandal, second of its type in a decade, involves several dozen players from about 20 different colleges, ranging from the University of Connecticut to the University of California at Los Angeles. And this is only the beginning. The true extent of crime and corruption in collegiate basketball will probably never be determined. The present revelations, however, are indicative of the trend. It presents two major questions: Who is truly responsible for the scandal? What measures can be taken to remedy the mess? For one scries of answers PAHADE consulted Harold "Red" Grange, 58, the greatest football star of the 1920s, the famous "Galloping Ghosl of Illinois," sportscaster, and authority on intercollegiate athletics. Grange believes firmly that today's educators are responsible for the national basketball scandal. "Our colleges and universities," he maintains, "have fouled their own nests. It's about time they started cleaning them out. Educators should educate, not win ball games. "One of the most significant things about this current basketball scandal is every player involved so far attended his college or university under some form of scholarship. "Who are the educators handing out these scholarships? And what is their purpose? Only a few months ago some youngster in Connecticut made up a phony high school basketball background, used a phony name, a phony record and wrote to 10 colleges for a basketball scholarship. Practically all of these institutions of so-called higher learning were willing to come across because the youngster had built himself up as an All-State basketball star. "The basic trouble with our educators," Grange continues, "is that they're not teaching our youngsters a correct set of values. It's also true of many parents. Kids are raised to measure success by money. "The result is that most college athletes on athletic scholarships have no loyalty to any school, any coach, any student body. They go to the college that offers them the best deal. A college education to them is like buying a suit of clothes. "What's the Deal?" "I've talked to I don't know how many football coaches, many of them caught up in the vicious system of win, win, win--no matter what die cost. These coaches hear about an outstanding high school athlete. Maybe he's recommended by a zealous alumnus or he writes in himself. The coach goes out to talk to the youngster, to proselyte, to sell him. "Usually he begins by telling the boy about his university, the fine faculty, the excellent graduate school, the Nobel Prize-winners who are teaching there. All the kids listen attentively, some even politely. But in practically every case, they say That's fine. But what's the deal? What's in it for me?' "Where do these kids get that sense of values? That college president thinks he's improving his college by bringing in the best basketball players. What has basketball got to do with education? "Today's youngsters are no fools. If a college awards a scholarship to a kid because he can win basketball and football games, and that's what they're doing, they can't be interested in the boy's education. If they let him spend his time practicing in the gym, playing games in Madison Square Garden and other big city arenas--then the boys are not getting an education, so they feel they might as well get a few bucks." Grange, who played at Illinois in 1923, '24 and '25, claims that despite hii football feats, "I never received a thing from the university--not even a free meal. In my day, most kids who attended a state university were residents of that state. Nowadays, colleges have scouti touring the country for athletic talent. Football and basketball carry most of the sports program in any university so they've become big business. All of that has got to stop. "Colleges should leave big-time athletics to the professionals. Athletics must be de-emphasized. College sports should be returned to the colleges. "The reason gamblers approach basketball players," Grange explains, "is because basketball is an easy game to control. In football if a quarterback is calling the wrong signals, the coach pulls him out. In basketball if a forward misses two or three baskets, the coach and the fans figure he's just having an 'off night. "If basketball were returned to the college campus where it belongs, there would be much less of this bribery temptation." The Virtues of Education "But above all what our universities and parents must start doing," Grange asserts, "is teach character. We've simply got to develop character in our young men, good moral constitutions. And education can do that a whole lot better than intercollegiate athletics. Sports are wonderful, but no young man should go to any college solely because of its sports program. You hear a lot about the virtues of athletics, huw it teaches fair play, team work, discipline and determination. The truth of the matter is that all of these virtues can be taught much belter in the classroom. "I-'or the most part, today's great men were not yesterday's great college athletes. Many of them, like President Kennedy, played a fair game of baseball or football, but they weren't All-American or All-any- tliing. But they did develop character. "Where our colleges went wrong in athletics was in building tremendous football stadiums to hold from 50,000 to 80,000 spectators. To fill the stadiums, they had to have standout attractions, winning football teams. Over a period of years the football star became a bigger man on the campus than the student who made Phi Beta Kappa. Then basketball became big-time, and the same evils developed. "In my mind there's no doubt about it. The colleges and the universities are responsible for the overemphasis on sports and the current basketball mess. To remedy it they've got to: "1 Restrict recruiting, 2 Ban participation in postseason, non-conference and holiday tournaments, 3 Exercisemorecareinawardingathleticscholarships, 4 De-emphasize or abolish intercollegiate sports. "These are the alternatives. The next move is up to them." What others have to say about the basketball scandal Bob CoUSy, star of the Boston Celtics professional basketball team, who Is considered by many to be the world's greatest basketball player "I find it awfully hard to make these ball players any more criminal than the point-shaving on millions of income tax returns and illegal insurance rebates that many try to finagle. "This is the society that these players have been brough! up in, and to my way of t h i n k i n g , the players involved are the least guilty of anyone at all involved in creating their environment." Dr. Franklin Murphy, chancellor of U.C.L.A. "When basketball gets out of hand to the extent where unscrupulous gamblers enter the picture, then it's a reminder that there's too much public pressure, and it's time to forego the huge extravaganzas and return college sports to the colleges." Robert Kennedy, Attorney General ". . . in basketball alone you've got 30 players and 17 or 18 different colleges in the United States in- volved in gambling. ! think Bob Cousy said the other day that you can't really find fault with these people because this attitude permeates the U.S. "There is so much concentration on making a few easy dollars and being comfortable that it's pretty difficult, even if you have good laws, to get these things altered or changed. If the attitude in the country changes--if we have a greater interest in our community, and the state and the nation, in our schools and in the fact that there should be good law enforcement-- I think we will make progress." Porad. · July I*. I

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