Relations between Atlantic Coast Conference basketball coaches and game officials, tempestuous at best, have intensified to new heights of acrimony - and this time it's the refs steaming the loudest.
Saince Commissioner Bob James' announcement 10 days ago that the ACC will use outside officials for the league tournament in Greensboro, Hank Nichols, Jim Hernjak and their fellow longtime conference tooters have seethed. They considered the scheme not as James was characterizing it - a chance to acclimate the ACC teams to different styles of officiating they might run into the NCAA's - but an insult to their ability and integrity.
Then Norm Sloan, the N.C. State coach, charged after last week's Wolfpack-North Carolina game that since the refs "have been told they aren't working the ACC tournament, they've quit working hard. The crew at UNC-N.C. State "didn't even work up a sweat," Sloan groused.
"That's ridiculous," said Nichols, who worked that game. "When you're assigned to work a game between North Carolina and N.C. State, you start sweating before the game. In no way, shape or form did this decision affect the attitude of any referee."
Hernjack: "It will be tough for people on the ACC staff to come back next season. Some are teetering - they may go elsewhere."
Nichols: "The top officials in our league are considered the best in the country. But apparently we were wrong in assuming we were regarded that way in our own league."
Bob Workman, one of several Southeastern Conference referees contacted by the ACC about working the tournament (as quoted by Hernjak): forget it, "clean up your own blood" . . .
Comes now (says the San Francisco Examiner) a $10.5 million offer form a six-(unidentified)-person California syndicate to buy the A's from Charlie Finely and keep the baseball team in Oakland. The newspaper said two of the group are big entertainment names and it quoted Finley: "I'm not at liberty to bandy about names or dollar figures, but I most definitely have an offer . . . They not only are wearing the big hats, they've got all the cattle. Either I'm going to accept their offer or see the A's go to Denver eventually. And if I do accept their offer, it's going to be dog eat dog (with the S.F. Giants) in the Bay area." The syndicate is said not to be one made up of black show-business people that earlier expressed an interest . . .
Once an athlete, always . . . Birmingham, Mich. - A principal in a civil suit blew up at dismissal of the case and, pulling a revolver, grabbed a lawyer around the neck. The judge leaped from behind the bench and threw a block into the pair, knocking them into the seats; so what if the man with the gun was 6-4, 270 pounds? The judge wrestled him until a secretary got police from downstairs - the judge being 6-4, 230-pound (used to be 295) Gus Cifelli, former Notre Dame and Detroit Lion tackle . . . New London, Conn. - A fellow home for lunch, watching the baby while his wife jogged the dog, heard noise in the vacant apartment downstairs; saw two youngsters carrying away stereo equipment. He shouted: they ran. Through snowdrifts and yards and over fences - they never had a chance. Catching one who led officers to two others, their pursuer was Amby Bur foot, 31, winner of the 1968 Boston Marathon . . .
The hockey Capitals are so jinxed it has rubbed off on the writers who cover them. Hardly has The Star's Russ White returned from an appendectomy than The Post's Bob Fachet discovers the left arm bothering him a couple of weeks has a forearm fracture and must be fitted with a cast today. But he'll keep playing hurt (and spreading the jinx, as when he covered Fordham 63, Georgetown 59 on Sunday?), and in tribute to such dedication (he may have injured the arm wrestling with his hockey-crazed youngsters), let's spotlight the developments concerning Fachet's old idol: Bobby Hull.
The Winnipeg Jets have been reorganized - and all-time NHL great Hull aims to return to the National Hockey League with Super Swede linemates Ulf Nisson and Anders Hedberg. What, Hull jumping to the N.Y. Rangers with 'em? Nope, Hull is one of eight Winnipeg businessmen who have bought the World Hockey Association frachise for $1.6 million, not only saving it for the rest of this season but insisting they now will go all out to get the Jets into the NHL.
And insisting that not only, in the words of Robert Graham, chairman of the former owners who became chairman of the new owners. "We are prepared to pay whatever it takes to get in, believe me," but they have matched the Rangers' million-dollarish bid for would-be free agents Hedberg and Nilsson and won't let them get away. The Jet owners hope to have their NHL application ready for the senior league's governors meeting Sunday . . .
Sparks should fly at said meeting, between Toronto owner Harold Ballard and NHL President John Ziegler. Ballard, insisting the league rule that players must wear their names sewn on the backs of their jerseys costs the Maple Leafs big money in program sales, thumbed his nose and tweaked Ziegler's by refusing to do so at home games. Then in Ballard's own word's "to make a complete mockery of the ruling," he did have the Leaf's names sewn on for the first time for the Sunday night road game at Chicago - "I've complied with the NHL by law," he boasted. "The names are stitched on, three inches high. It's a pity you can't see them."
The letters were blue, and the same shade as the jerseys. And Ziegler, no doubt seeing red, is readying the prescribed $5,000 fine on the Leafs for noncompliance. . . .