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THE INSIDE TRACK | PAGE TWO

Pac-10 Isn't Missing Much by Eschewing Tournament

March 06, 1997|RANDY HARVEY

I'm a great fan of postseason conference basketball tournaments. In the ACC. In the Big East. Maybe even the Big Ten.

But not in the Pacific 10. It wouldn't work.

How do I know?

The Pac-10 had a tournament for four seasons. When it died in 1990, hardly anyone mourned. In fact, hardly anyone noticed.

Unlike the ACC, where fans from most schools are usually within a drive down Tobacco Road of the tournament, the Pac-10 is too spread out to ensure either great crowds or atmosphere.

The Pac-10 tournament resembled the ACC's only at Tucson because of the support from Arizona fans. But it was flatter than George Zidek's crew cut at other sites--Pauley Pavilion, the Forum and Tempe, Ariz.

Sure, it made money for some athletic departments, but nothing like the $400,000 that each ACC school earns. UCLA and Arizona made more money in subsequent years by playing an extra nonconference home game.

School presidents also complained that the tournament cost their student-athletes too much class time.

But Pac-10 officials have revived the idea, appointing a committee to study whether the tournament should return after the 1998-99 season. New arenas, such as the Pond of Anaheim, are eager to play host, greater sources of revenue are being explored and a plan has been devised to reduce academic conflicts.

As much as I might enjoy seeing a tournament, I still don't think it would be good for the conference. Competition among teams this season is so intense that several games each weekend are crucial. That wouldn't have been true if they had a tournament to fall back on.

After the Big Ten begins its tournament next year, the Pac 10 will stand with the Ivy League as the only conferences without one. Keep standing there. That's good company.

*

Now that Tom Lasorda's in the Hall of Fame, can Sparky Anderson be far behind? . . .

Who knows what would have become of Lasorda if he'd answered differently in 1973, when Peter O'Malley asked him to quit as manager in Albuquerque and become a Dodger coach? . . .

"You know, you can get forgotten pretty quickly as a coach," Lasorda told him. . . .

"Tommy," O'Malley said, "I'm confident you won't let anybody forget about you." . . .

One day after becoming No. 1 in college baseball, UCLA lost to UC Santa Barbara, 9-6. The UCLA men's tennis team proved more worthy of its new No. 1 ranking, beating Fresno State, 6-1, in a dual meet Wednesday. . . .

Three former UCLA shotputters, John Godina, Mark Parlin and Valeyta Althouse, are representing the United States in the indoor world championships this weekend in Paris. . . .

Also competing there is Australia's Emma George, the women's world-record holder in the pole vault at 14 feet 11 inches. A former circus trapeze artist, her troupe was "The Flying Fruit Flies." . . .

Peyton Manning's decision to remain at Tennessee is good for college football, but maybe not for UCLA. The Volunteers play the Bruins on Sept. 6 at the Rose Bowl. . . .

Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel of Florida is expected to go in the fourth or fifth round. . . .

Arnold Palmer, recuperating from prostate surgery, decided not to play in next week's Toshiba Senior Classic at Newport Beach Country Club. The sponsor's exemption reserved for him went instead to the colorful, cigar-chomping Larry Laoretti. . . .

Among others entered are Lee Trevino, Hale Irwin, Gary Player, Dave Stockton, Chi Chi Rodriguez and defending champion Jim Colbert. . . .

Which is the most valuable team in Los Angeles? The L.A. Sports Council says it's the Laker Girls, who receive the annual Community Service Award on Friday night at halftime of the Laker-Rocket game at the Forum. . . .

White Memorial Medical Center in East L.A. is sponsoring a golf tournament Monday at Valencia Country Club in honor of Don Newcombe. Proceeds go toward expansion of the hospital's pediatric intensive care unit. . . .

Actress Salma Hayek, starring in the movie "Fools Rush In" with Matthew Perry, is filming a Pepsi commercial with the Galaxy's wandering goalkeeper, Jorge Campos. The title should be "Fools Rush Out." . . .

While many politicians are trying to duck blame for O'Malley's decision not to pursue a football stadium for Chavez Ravine, City Councilman Mike Hernandez is taking credit. In a Feb. 11 letter to Elysian Park constituents, he says he led the fight to keep the NFL out.

*

While wondering if that smoke wafting from the soccer stadium bleachers last weekend in Jamaica was medicinal, I was thinking: Larry Doby should be the next player voted into the Hall of Fame by the veterans' committee, Desmond Howard won't be the MVP of next year's Super Bowl, it's good to see No. 99 back in town.

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