TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Don Gambril, 1984 Olympic swimming coach, said that a former member of the East German swim team who defected to the United States was en route Thursday night to Tucaloosa, where he may be offered a scholarship at the University of Alabama.
Jens-Peter Berndt, 21, of Potsdam, left his country's swim team at Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City on Monday, saying he wanted to stay in the United States.
Berndt, accompanied by an official of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, reappeared at the Will Rogers Airport late Thursday and boarded a flight to Atlanta, according to an Oklahoma City television station.
Gambril, Alabama's men's swimming coach and the coach of the U.S. swimming team at the Los Angeles Olympics, said in a telephone interview Thursday night that he "traced down" Berndt "to find out what his intent was."
The coach then offered the swimmer a 48-hour, expenses-paid trip to the Alabama campus which Berndt accepted, Gambril said. Such invitations are allowed under NCAA rules, the coach said.