To call Kansas State the pits in college football would be an understatement. Last season the Wildcats were 1-10, making their alltime record 271-417-38, the worst of any major college. In addition, 21 freshmen players staged a brief boycott last fall, complaining they weren't getting enough playing time, two varsity players were accused and later convicted of raping a coed in the athletic dorm, and with two games remaining, Coach Ellis Rainsberger resigned under pressure after some players were deliberately misidentified in a junior-varsity game in an effort to preserve their redshirt status.
Jim Dickey, an assistant at North Carolina, took the K-State job last December. "I'm lucky," he said. "I really believe that. I believe good things are going to happen to me."
Dickey should be so lucky. Last week the Big Eight placed the Wildcats' football program on conditional probation for exceeding the 30 scholarship limit by 13 last year. It turns out that President Duane Acker of K-State knew of this irregularity last December, when, after conferring with other university officials, he decided to atone by cutting back to only 17 scholarships this year, and informed the conference of this act of contrition. Moreover, Dickey was told of these developments when he took the job, although public announcement of the scholarship shenanigans was not made until last week.
Acker has appointed a committee to discover who handed out the excess scholarships. Ex-Coach Rainsberger says, "Athletic Director Jersey Jermier would have been responsible for keeping track of the number of athletic grants-in-aid. The mix-up probably occurred when scholarships were granted to walk-ons at the end of the 1976 season. At that time they were still shuffling players, dropping players from scholarships and giving scholarships to walk-ons who made the team." Jermier refused comment on that assertion and on reports he himself might be fired.
At week's end, K-State got still another jolt when David Laurie, a phys-ed professor and former Wildcat football player, charged that the school had already exceeded the allowable 20 spring practice sessions by holding indoor workouts before the beginning of spring practice. Dickey admitted "overzealousness" and ended outdoor practice after only five sessions.
The Big Eight will hold a hearing on Kansas State's excess scholarships next month, but it is not known if the conference is contemplating imposing any penalties of its own. Schools that violate conference or NCAA rules are usually prohibited from going to bowls or appearing on TV, but Kansas State is no candidate for either. And the Big Eight is not eager to make K-State any less competitive than it already is. Indeed, K-State is an embarrassment to the conference, both on the field and in the public eye.
The University Interscholastic League, which governs high school sports in Texas, has a strange set of values. Last week the UIL announced it would take no action against five basketball players from Wheatley High School in Houston, although they admitted they had stolen $150 from an Austin cafeteria and 12 necklaces from a jewelry store just before winning a record fifth state Class AAAA championship. "If we start getting ourselves involved in morals," says UIL director Bailey Marshall, "we will be getting hammered to take a student off the team for having speeding tickets."
On the same day Marshall said this, another Wheatley student, Linda Williams, played her first varsity baseball game. Although the Houston school district does not offer girls' softball, the UIL not only had barred Williams from the baseball team, but also threatened to make Wheatley forfeit any game in which she played. A federal judge ruled in her favor, finding she had been denied her rights under the "equal protection" clause of the 14th Amendment.