The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, March 28, 2001, Page 10, Image 10

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    SportsWednesday
Swim cut
not fault
of Title IX
Title IX
found its way
to Lincoln last
weekend at
the expense of
the Nebraska
men’s swim
ming pro
gram.
The
phrase
“bound to
Samuel
««■*
MClNfiWOn
happen snuggles its way conve
niently into this scenario. As
budget constraints found their
avenues of threatening NU’s
Athletic Department with cost
overruns, or, even worse in Bill
Byrne’s eyes, the possibility of los
ing self-sustaining status, NU
moved swiftly.
You know the outconie. It
wasn’t a pretty one with swim
mers, parents and yes, even the
state media casting less than a
glowing eye toward Byrne's finan
cial planning.
But another, disturbing by
product came out of Monday’s
{ness conference. It was the sense
that Title IX, the law that guaran
tees opportunities for women
athletes, was going to hamper
NU’s Athletic Department in cut
ting costs. In
_ fact, as other
IfanNU
coach
worries
about his
small
sport, he
ought to
look
elsewhere
than Title
IX for the
blame.
coaches m
men’s gym
nastics and
tennis pro
grams
seemed to
indicate in
news stories,
it would
destroy their
sports as well.
For all the
times Byrne
and others
have touted
women’s ath
letics, he used
Title IX as a
hamstring
Monday. It
was cheap. He
basically pitched that the
women’s swimming program
would have been cut if it wouldn't
have brought on a civil-rights law
suit.
Let’s consider those last three
words. In the process of guaran
teeing opportunities to women
who attend institutions that
receive federal funding, Title EX,
which covers a whole lot more
than sports, morphed into a civil
rights issue. It was signed into law
by no less than the Nixon admin
istration - not men of the Great
Society or Kennedy idealism, but
of a conservative stock. Its time
had come years ago.
Title IX is imperfect But it has
led millions of women and girls to .
athletics. Before it women’s ath
letics were akin to sorority pas
times in college.
Starting with a lawsuit against
Brown University in the early
1990s, Tide IX gained some spurs.
It put athletic department’s feet to
tire fire, so to speak, in supplying
women and men with equal
opportunities and finances.
And since many schools have
football programs that eat up
fimding and scholarships, the law
requires college administrations
to balance out the equity by offer
ing more women’s sports and
scholarships.
Ifs not a trend. It’s die law- a
mostly good one. Had Nebraska
dropped women’s swimming,
yes, it would have been sued. And,
yes, it should have been.
- How does a law achieve any
thing without enforcement? Is it
Title DCs fault NU insists on run
ning a football program? Is it the
law’s fault it doesn't take into
account how much football
“earns’’ for NU because, guess
what college athletics aren't sup
posed to be business?
If an NU coach worries about
his small sports program losing
funding, he ought to look else
where than Title IX for the blame.
He ought to point to football,
a sport that claims it needs 85
scholarships when die NFL plays
more games with 45 active play
ers.
He ought to point to useless
Devaney Center renovations,
which haven’t increased atten
dance or winning. He ought to
point to Barry Collier’s big, fat
contract, which pays a boring
man to play slow basketball.
He ought to point to an athlet
ic support staff so large it has three
or four marketing kids in the
' I
Please see Tllli IX on 7
r- . V
I Gymnastics team worried about cuts
BY KRISTEN WATERS
Three days after Nebraska Athletic
Director Bill Byrne announced that the
men’s swimming and diving teams would
be cut many are wondering what sport, if
any, will be next to go as the Athletic
Department tightens its collective belt
' Nebraska men’s gymnastics Coach
Francis Allen thinks he knows the answer to
that
“Unless something drastic happens in
the next six years, men’s college gymnastics
is doomed,” he said
If mot’s gymnastics at Nebraska eventu
ally disappears, it may be more because of
the nationwide demise of the sport than a
cost-saving measure by Byrne.
As school after school drops men's gym
nastics to save money, it becomes mote and
more likely NU will follow suit
“There are 22 men’s gymnastics pro
grams out there, and every year a few more
go," Allen said. “This year it was James
Madison and Michigan State that cut their
programs for next year.
“If a few more schools go, it could
become a landslide.”
At a Monday afternoon press confer
ence, Byrne said more schools were drop
ping sports to save money, particularly
men’s gymnastics.
“Expenses are out-racing resources, and
people are looking for ways to cut," Byme
said. “The men’s gymnastics champi
onships has virtually become an all-comers
meet because there are so few teams.”
Byrne denied any sport besides swim
ming and diving would be eliminated in the
immediate future, but said it was hard to tell
what would happen down the road.
"It's hard to speculate because I didn’t
know we'd have the increase in the budget
bill that we had,” Byrne said. “For us to con
tinue to balance our budget is a must”
The men’s gymnastics team lost approx
imately $435,000during the athletic depart
ment’s last fiscal period, which ended June
30,2001. The team cost die athletic depart
ment more money than all but three men’s
sports - baseball, track and cross country
and wrestling were the top-three drains.
But those sports aren't in as much dan
ger nationally as gymnastics is. It’s this
specter of a national snuffing out of men’s
gym that has Allen worried.
“As long as there is representation from
schools and competition between schools,
there is a reason to keep it going,” Francis
said. “But if there is no competition, then
there is nothing.”
However, to the gymnasts, keeping the
program running as others fold is still worth
the cost Because there are no professional
gymnastics teams, college is one of the few
ways gymnasts can compete at a higher
level
“I’d be furious if they took away gym,”
sophomore Jeff Kelly said. “Most of the guys
out there have trained five days a week or
more since they were 6. It's just not right to
take that away.”
LEFT:Buck
Better Field,
which has been
the home of
Nebraska base
baB for 22 years,
is in its final sea
son. The Huskers
witl be moving
to its new stadi
um, Haymarket
Park, either at
the end of this
season or the
beginning of the
2002 season.
BELOW: Buck
Better Rekft
press box will be
replaced by a
larger, updated
press box at
Haymarket Park.
Buck stops after2001 season
■It may be Nebraska's worst facility,
but the Comhusker baseball team will
still miss Buck Beftzer Field's charm.
BY JOHN GASKINS
In an open prairie field just west of
die 1-80 overpass that leads into down
town Lincoln lies the scaffoldings of
what will become the immaculate home
of Nebraska baseball, Haymarket Park.
Lincoln residents, Husker fans and
especially those within the budding pro
gram continue to rave about the new,
$32.6 million facility. The ambiance of a
plush, mini-major-league ballpark with
Memorial Stadium and the Lincoln sky
line in die background is eagerly antici
pated - a place for players and fans to be
proud of. The palace of a new, powerful
kingdom.
On the other side of that overpass, in
the shadow of the awe-inspiring
Memorial Stadium, lies the bastard child
of this powerful athletic department’s
facilities - NU baseball’s current home,
BuckBdtzer Field A place that has all the
ambiance and charm of a junkyarcLThe
old dog will be put to rest after this sea
son. When the Huskers and their fans say
goodbye to the Buck this summer, they'll
say goodbye to a place that had its own,
er, charm and plenty of stories.
Granted, its mostly screwed-up
charm and screwed-up stories. Yhe Buck
is better known for making several
bloopers videos via a home run ball that
smashed the window of a moving car
than for any great game dr quality.
But, for some reason, some Huskers
will be a little sad to say goodbye.
“In a way, we will bliss it," junior
infielder WiU Bolt said. “Any time you
leave a field, it’s a little bit sad. It’s the only
field we’ve known here, and we've had
some good times and good success
here."
Besides die familiarity, fan-friendli
ness and some memorable wins die last
couple ofyears, it is hard to imagine what
there is to miss about the Buck - a (dace
one local sports columnist said made the
near College World Series-caliber
Huskers look like “Pavarotti performing
at die Royal Grove.”
From the lovely view of the dirt v
mound, parking lot, energy plant and
nearby trains behind the field, to pot
holes in the outfield caused by the foot
ball team, which practices there, to a
ramshackle press box that is so rickety it -
shakes like an earthquake when the
crowd goes wild, the Buck is more of a
tortured battlefield than a baseball field.
***
Every ballpark has its trademarks.
Fenway Park has the Green Monster.
Wrigley Field has the ivy wall.
Buck Beltzer Field has “the bounce of
the Buck.” Besides the cold weather, it is
what the Huskers consider their biggest
home-field advantage.
“Our field is a unique case,” eight
Please see BELTZER on 7
David McGee/DN' •
Basketball off season
doesn't mean time off
BY BRIAN CHRtSTOPHERSON
Nebraska basketball Coach
Barry Collier lives a tidy exis
tence, from his well-kept office to
his clean-shaven face, which sits
above his tucked-in dress shirt.
There is no surprise then that
he runs a tidy, detailed “off-sea
son" program. Players already
have found out slacking off, even
in late March, shows up like a dirt
spot to Collier.
This March, it's lift, condition
and an NCAA-allotted two hours
of “highly intense” workouts
under Collier's watch.
“(Collier) gives us choices,”
Cary Cochran, the Nebraska sen
ior-to-be guard said. “You're not
obligated to come in and work
during the off-season, but you’re
also not obligated to be a part of
this team next year, so you really
are obligated.”
Cochran likes it that way. He
said it’s different than it used to
be under Coach Danny Nee of
two seasons ago, a coach who
really didn’t make lifting weights
and conditioning mandatory.
"My nature is to really work
hard,” Cochran said. “I believe in
outworking people.”
So does Collier. The Cochrans
of the world are the type of play
ers Collier embraces.
He needs players with work
ethic because of NCAA regula
tions. Collier isn't granted much
opportunity to see his players’
off-season improvements until
the magical first practice day.
Collier dislikes this rule.
“In the off-season, it’s as
though the coaching staff goes
into this dark room and comes
out on Oct 15 and sees how their
team has improved,” Collier said.
“In the end, it falls on each player
to make individual improve
ments.”
However, Collier is still able to
track lifting and conditioning
with limited gym hours. Collier
uses this time to die fullest
Lifting is being especially tar
geted by Collier this off-season
with the loss of Kimani Fffiend
Please see CONDITION on 9
Improving tackling key in spring
BY DAVID DIEHL
It is said the Nebraska foot
ball team has a commitment to
excellence, not to being average.
But average is how Nebraska
Defensive Coordinator Craig
Bohl rated his defense’s tackling
in last
Iwskte: hrt iHi| riwwi year's 10-2
NtftHMfcadtiajctrps campaign.
The some
times-shoddy tackling has led
NU coaches to make the funda
mental a focus in the four weeks
of this year’s spring practice.
Overall, Bohl said he would
give the tackling of last year’s
defense a ‘C’ grade.
“To play championship style
defense, you can’t be average,"
Bohl said. “We need to be excel
lent tacklers, and that’s probably
one of the biggest things we
need to improve on and are
addressing here in the spring."
The problem was more cost
ly than allowing an extra yard
here or a first down there, Bohl
said.
“I think it was the difference
between winning 12 games and
10 games," he said.
v*'
The tackling
problems may
have shown up
on the score
board last sea
son. Nebraska
allowed 19.6
points per game,
the highest aver
age an NU
defense had
given up since
1958.
In its
defense, the
Blackshirts did
replace eight
starters from its
1999 squad. That
included one of
the best tacklers
in Nebraska his
tory, rover Mike
Brown, who is
second on all
time NU tack
ling charts.
This spring,
NU returns nine
aeienaers wno
started at least
four games in 2000.
“Tackling was a problem for
us,* cornerback Keyou Craver
uNRIe Pluto
Defensive Coordinator Craig Bohl says the Blackshirts need to
recommit themselves to above-average tackling this spring
and during the 2001 season.
Please see TACKUN6 on 9
V.