Despite having three players flunk off the basketball team and a handful of football players land in jail on drug charges and a fired football coach go anything but quietly, the 1989-90 school year was not a total public relations disaster for the University of Utah.
During winter quarter, 145 of Utah's 350 or so ath letes produced a 3.0 grade-point average or better. Understandably, the Utes wanted to brag a little, so they took out an advertisement in the school newspaper that listed the athletes and offered public congratulations."We're just trying to improve our image, and let people know about all the good students we have," said Bruce Woodbury, Utah's sports information director. "Academics is our big focus."
Among those included on the list was Walter Watts, a starting center on the basketball team. Watts was a Prop. 48 case during his freshman year.
AD UTES: All of which leads us to another PR gem for Utah. Tommy Connor, Utah's point guard, was to deliver the commencement address for the college of health this afternoon in the Union Ballroom. "It will be the traditional commencement speech, but I have some of my own ideas," said Connor earlier this week. "The biggest thing is to make it quick, so I don't bore everyone."
Connor, who is taking a degree in exercise and sport science and carries a 3.03 overall GPA, was selected for the honor by the college's faculty. He plans to pursue a master's degree in coaching next year at Utah.
STEROID UPDATE: Anu Kaljurand, the Soviet track and field athlete who attends BYU, says steroids are readily available at Soviet training camps, which she attended for four years. "They offer them (steroids) to you," she says. "But they don't push you. If you don't want them, it's no problem. The problem is, the athletes don't know what it's going to cause because they're so young. I did an English paper (at BYU) on it and I had no idea." Asked the obvious question, she says, "Most of the athletes are doing it. That's my opinion. I haven't ever thought about using them. It's just not honest."
BREAKING THROUGH THE WALL: For 10 years, runners in the Berlin Marathon have had to cope with The Wall - the psychological one and the literal one in the form of the Berlin Wall. The 26.2-mile course wound through the streets of Berlin - West Berlin - and never crossed the wall. But this year's race, set for Sept. 30, will change all that. For the first time, runners will run into East Berlin. No passports required.
The race, which will start as usual in West Berlin, will take runners five miles into East Berlin before returning for the finish at Kaiser Wilhelm Church in West Berlin.
Not surprisingly, the race has attracted a lot of interest. Registration was closed four weeks ago after 20,000 runners had signed up. However, a Denver-based travel agency, Travel Associates, Inc., says it has a limited number of guaranteed race entries as part of a tour package (phone: 800-548-5488).
STILL ON HOLD: Four-time Olympian Henry Marsh is growing increasingly restless while the United States Olympic Committee tries to resolve his case with The Athletics Congress, which, under the most questionable of circumstances, suspended Marsh in April for failing to appear for a drug test.
"It's kind of dragging," says Marsh. "I'd certainly like to be competing in some of the local events. I'd like to do some of the open meets (at East High). I was going to run in the Salt Lake Classic, but I didn't want to cause problems. I couldn't even pace (Doug) Padilla in the mile (at the state championships). I would like to run in the Utah Summer Games (later this month), but I don't know if I'll be able to."
Marsh hopes the case is resolved this month.
OVERTIME RECRUITING: The University of Utah's basketball recruiting season, which went into overtime, is finally finished. The Utes signed three preps - Deon Mims, Thomas Wyatt and Kelly Walker - who all have at least a couple of things in common. All of them signed late (Wyatt and Walker signed on the last possible signing day, May 15). All are probable Prop. 48 cases, which means you won't be seeing them on the basketball court for at least a couple of years. Curiously, of the Utes' three junior college transfers - Paul Afeaki, M'Kay McGrath and Anthony Williams - the latter two also signed late.
Commenting on the Utes' overall recruiting efforts, assistant coach Joe Cravens says, "It's consistent with the way we'll operate here. It's taken a year to find the level in which we can recruit. Obviously, we're not going to get the in-state LDS kids. You've got to find your niche. It's kind of hodgepodge." Cravens also believes, "It was a good recruiting year. We got most of the kids we wanted."