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The Day in Sports | COUNTDOWN TO 2000 / A day-by-day
recap of some of the most important sports moments
of the 20th Century

May 23, 1956

USC-UCLA Bickering Reaches New Heights

May 23, 1999|EARL GUSTKEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

If ever a single event in the UCLA-USC rivalry could be called a bombshell, it exploded 43 years ago today.

Julius Miller Leavy, a deputy district attorney for Los Angeles County, summoned reporters to a news conference at UCLA's University Club.

UCLA had earlier that week been stunned to learn it had been banned by the Pacific Coast Conference from postseason football competition for three years, fined $93,000 and that its entire football team had been declared ineligible for the next season.

The charge: UCLA had paid football players $115 per month for campus jobs, or $40 more than was permitted by conference regulations.

Enter Leavy, who, by the way, had played basketball and baseball at UCLA.

Times columnist Braven Dyer had written that the penalties were "an H-bomb" dropped on UCLA.

So Leavy decided to lob an H-bomb USC's way.

USC, he charged, had paid 60 of its athletes a total of $71,235 over a two-year period and said he had given conference officials "documentary evidence."

Out came the screamer headlines. USC promised to investigate.

It went on like that for a couple of years between the two schools. A year later, in fact, UCLA missed by one vote, 5 to 4, from being expelled from the PCC.

The conference finally collapsed under the weight of the bickering and in 1959 dissolved itself.

A new conference, called the Athletic Assn. of Western Universities, was formed. In 1968 it became the Pacific 8, and with the 1978 addition of Arizona and Arizona State, the Pacific 10.

Also on this date: In 1957, before 43,955 at the Coliseum Relays, Occidental's Tod White, Dave Reisbord, Larry Wray and Ty Hadley broke the world record in the two-mile relay by nearly four seconds, running 7:22.1. . . . In 1962, the Philadelphia Warriors, having trouble making good on Wilt Chamberlain's $65,000 salary, were sold for $850,000 and moved to San Francisco. . . . In 1957, the Milwaukee Braves announced they were averaging yearly net profits of $364,517 since moving to Milwaukee from Boston. . . . In 1922, undefeated Gene Tunney lost his American light-heavyweight championship in New York on a decision to Harry Greb.

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