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THE INSIDE TRACK | PAGE TWO / RANDY HARVEY

Mt. SAC Relays Director Climbs His Own Mountain

April 15, 1998|RANDY HARVEY

For the better part of two decades, Scott Davis and I have had conversations, debates sometimes, about how to fix track and field in this country.

I know, why didn't we take on something simple? Like Social Security.

But here's the difference between Davis and me. While I'm still debating, he's doing something about the sport.

Late in 1996, he was named director of the Mt. San Antonio College Relays, which has everything you want to see in a track meet--tradition, world-class athletes, a fast track and a lovely setting in Walnut--but has been organized so haphazardly that spectators couldn't tell the runners even with a program.

No one was more aware of that than Davis, who for years was the meet's public address announcer.

In one of my favorite Mt. SAC moments, not even he knew that one of the world's great sprinters, Dennis Mitchell, was entered in a race until the runners were in the blocks.

Unfortunately, at about the same time Davis traded in his microphone for a bullhorn, he learned that he had melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer.

In January 1997, he underwent an operation to remove the lymph nodes from his groin. Two months later, a few weeks before his debut as a meet director, doctors told him the melanoma had returned and suggested immediate surgery.

Davis told them it would have to wait.

"I made the decision I had to run the meet," he said Tuesday. "It was my call. I'd make it again."

The meet was a success, more so than the second surgery he had the next week. By June, it was apparent that the melanoma had persisted. Four months of arduous chemotherapy treatments, however, appear to have the disease in retreat.

"The doctors are optimistic," Davis, 54, said, taking a break from preparations for this weekend's meet, which culminates with a Sunday afternoon invitational featuring world champions such as Marie-Jose Perec, Marion Jones, Maurice Greene, John Godina and Ato Boldon.

And Davis is optimistic about track and field. Compared to melanoma, the sport doesn't pose the overwhelming challenges he once thought it did.

*

Among all the Clippers' problems, Bill Fitch doesn't rank in the top 10. . . .

But if Fitch doesn't return next year as coach, Jim Harrick wants the job. . . .

That would allow Rhode Island to bring back Tom Penders. . . .

Skip Hicks probably won't join UCLA teammate Shaun Williams as a first-round NFL draft choice, after all. . . .

Although the running back impressed scouts with his speed during a recent workout, teams are concerned about his knee. . . .

Cornerback Brian Kelly is the only USC player who definitely will be drafted. . . .

Not since 1938 have the Trojans had fewer than two players drafted. . . .

John Robinson's recruiting classes consistently were rated among the nation's best, which tells you either that the players were overrated or they didn't develop after arriving at USC. . . .

Mike Garrett no doubt believed the latter when he let J.R. and most of his staff go. . . .

Don't listen for Shelley Smith on AM 1150 or XTRA 690 in the near future. . . .

Her report for ESPN on Tuesday, dealing primarily with the revocation of former USC basketball player Claude Green's scholarship in 1995, was critical of Garrett. . . .

When "New Times" recently published an article Garrett deemed negative, he reportedly prevented the writer, Dave Wielenga, from participating in a talk show on AM 1150, the sister station of XTRA, USC's new flagship. . . .

Charlie Parker told ESPN that, when he coached the team, Garrett told him which offense to run and whom to play. . . .

Garrett wasn't commenting. . . .

Presuming Oscar De La Hoya will win his mandatory title defense against Patrick Charpentier in June, his promoter, Bob Arum, is working on a rematch for September with Julio Cesar Chavez. . . .

An overdue fight with Felix Trinidad is possible for December. . . .

A mural of Don Sutton will join those of other former Dodger greats on the Dodger Stadium outfield wall in August. . . .

That's when Atlanta makes its only visit this season to Dodger Stadium. Sutton is a broadcaster for the Braves. . . .

The Dodgers' payroll for players when they last won the World Series in 1988 was $11 million. . . .

That's $2 million less than they offered one player for the next six seasons. . . .

I intend that more as a comment on baseball's economics than Mike Piazza's demands. . . .

George Mitchell turned down an opportunity to become baseball's commissioner when he retired from the Senate partly because of the sport's enormous problems. . . .

He chose instead to go to Northern Ireland to negotiate a peace agreement between Catholics and Protestants.

*

While wondering if the Angels and Yankees will be allowed to use a designated hitter in Shea Stadium, I was thinking: George Costanza must have had something to do with that Yankee Stadium fiasco, I'm surprised a town hall meeting on race and sports was necessary after Reggie White gave us all the answers, Will Perdue should have a role model other than Greg Ostertag.

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