Pat Cannon's article was very timely and probably reflects how most people have perceived the Jim Harris-Ocean View High School situation. I also agree that kids should not move and leave their parents for the sole purpose of playing basketball. The rules should be modified to prevent this.
The issue with Jim Harris isn't winning or losing basketball games. It is the positive effect that he has on the kids. Jim Harris had nothing to do with bringing Ricky Butler or Desi Hazely to Ocean View. He has been totally open about everything done in keeping these kids at Ocean View. The principal of the school was kept informed and concurred with every move.
The alleged violation was Section 510 of the CIF rules which states: "The object of the recruiting rule is to assure that the student athlete is making a free and unpressured choice of his or her high school." Does anyone doubt that Ocean View is the school of their choice?
And what about education? Butler's and Hazley's academic achievements have improved considerably since living in the Harris home.
If Pat Cannon were a real dinosaur, he would remember when people had high morals. Then he could recognize Jim Harris and accept that his actions were based on what he thought was most beneficial for the kids and was not motivated by winning more basketball games.
JACK T. HOLMES
From one dinosaur to another, thanks to Pat Cannon for his article on Ocean View basketball Coach Jim Harris and his recruitment of prep athletes. I am not happy, either, about the state of affairs as they now stand, where top stars are recruited by a high school to live in that area for eligibility. But this is also the fault of school administrators and school boards as he pointed out.
But I suspect the problem is larger than Jim Harris and I suspect these practices are too common. As a recreation director, I see this when certain coaches actively recruit youngsters from one community to be on their sports teams in a recreation center that is located in another community.
We see this from the professional level, to the college level, and now in the high school level--adults and kids with great sports abilities selling their bodies to the highest bidders. I believe when this is done for sexual purposes, there is a certain word for it. But when athletes do it, it is just considered part of the game.
RICHARD M. NIETO
How can the Mater Deis, the Ocean Views, the Edisons and the rest feel proud of their accomplishments when they haven't the slightest idea who half of their team members are or where they came from?
Coaches are to blame in part. But it is the parent who inflicts undue influence and pressure on a coach to win that undermines the ideals of education first. How are the students to learn ethical behavior at school when it doesn't exist at home?
Now that the dirt is coming out in the wash, why should Mater Dei continue to get away with its live-in resident basketball star, free tuition to basketball transfers, a team comprising non-Catholic stars and an eighth-grade "farm club" known as South Coast? Come on, CIF, wake up and bring integrity back to high school sports.
Shouldn't Hazzard Be Able to Speak Out?
Mark Heisler, the notorious Bruin-baiter? I don't think so. There does seem to be a nearly universal delusion among coaches, players and fans that the hometown press ought to lead cheers for their team, ought to go easy, or, at the very least, be positive.
This might be the case in the outback, but L.A. is the big leagues, after all, and any local writer who stoops to this sort of thing will probably end up a TV or radio sports personality and spend the rest of his life stroking athletes and making happy talk.
No, Heisler's problem is that he's just a tad humorless. In his characteristically penetrating, hard-hitting "analysis," he seems to object to all the things in Walt Hazzard that set him apart from so many of his coaching brethren. So what if Hazzard thinks USC "lucked out"? Six overtimes in two games for two huge wins: He might have a point.
And why should he be realistic? Why should he sit back and keep his mouth shut when the "experts" write off his team? That style fits better the Gene Bartows and Larry Farmers of the profession. Why shouldn't Hazzard talk to opposing players? College basketball isn't a cricket match, and any riot that may have broken out at Berkeley would have more properly be laid at the feet of the departed Dick Kuchen, an honors graduate of the Digger Phelps Charm School.
Mark, lighten up. You've already got one twinkle-eyed Boy Scout coaching across town. Let the rest of us have big, bad Walt.
Mark Heisler may have hammered UCLA basketball a little too hard on occasion, but Walt Hazzard should not expect hick-town coverage from a quality metropolitan newspaper. As I see it, the jury should still be out as to whether he has yet arrived as a major-college coach.