After Maryland's Renaldo Nehemiah scored his electrifying hurdles victory at the NCAA Championships, a guard near the Memorial Stadium press-box elevator said, "That was some race. I guess he's one of those foreigners, with a name like that."
Informed that Nehemiah was a 100 percent Amercican out of Scotch Plains, N.J., the guard brightened and said, "That's great."
Resentment toward foreign athletes is prevalent in Illini country, where Craig Virgin spent four years as "the first American finisher" without ever winning an NCAA track title.
Resentment is high on the West Coast, too, where Oregon now specializes in "first Americans" and where UCLA Coach Jim Bush is campaigning for an all-American championship meet.
The track coaches, meeting here, recommended to the ncaa that no athlete be permitted to compete after his 25th birthday, but the motion is not expected to carry because of objections to penalizing Americans who might have spent four years in service after high school. The courts, in the Howard soccer case, forbade specific rules restricting foreign-student eligibility.
The results of the NCAA meet just concluded here can only serve, however, to increase the demand for some sort of restraint on foreign athletes.
The winner of the 3,000 meter steeplechase, leading a one-two-three Kenyah finish, was Henry Rono of Washington State, who holds the world records for that event as well as the 5,000 and 100,000 meters. He is 27 years old.
Capturing the 10,000 meters in Rono's absence was Suleiman Nyambui of Tanzania, a freshman at Texas-E1 Paso who will be one of the favorites for an Olympic gold Medal at Moscow. He is 25.
The 5,000 meter champion was Sydney Maree, a 22 year old Villanova sophomore from South Africa with no Olympic future but with far more experience than the Americans he defeated so easily.
Winning the 400 meters in 45.18 seconds, fastest time in the world this year, was Kasheef Hassan, a 23-year-old Oregon State sophomore from Sudan.
The decathlon champion was Tito Steiner of Brigham Young, a junior from Argentina who placed fourth in the Montreal Olympics. He is 27.
Winning the hammer throw for the fourth straight year was Canadian Scott Neilson of the University of Washington, whose last two titles have been secured by throws longer than the American recors.
Setting a meet standard as he captured the discus was Brad Cooper, a Florida State senior from the Bahamas.
That marked seven titles in 19 individual events for foreign athletes and next year it could reach a majority, since many nations like to send their leading athletes here to train in an Olympic year.
For example, Joao Oliverira of Brazil, world-record holder in the triple jump and a 27 foot long jumper, is expected to enroll at Southern California in the fall. Predictably, that prospect has Bush in a rage.
"Anybody who recruits Oliveira is sure of 20 points at every meet, but they ought to think twice about it," Bush said. "I really believe this wholesale recruiting of foreigners is discrimination against the American athlete.
"It's definitely hurting our Olympic program. It's stupidty, that's what it is. It bugs me to see us training foreign athletes who will come back and kick our butts."
Ted Banks, dripping from the ritual bath in the steeplechase water jump, offered no apologies about the way his foreign legion from Texas-E1 Paso had breezed to the team title. Banks has not forgotten the questionable two-mile relay disqualification that cost UTEP the NCAA Indoor title.
"I'm not paid to develop American talent," Banks said. "I don't get anything from the U.S. Olympic Committee. I'm paid to have a successful track and field program. It's important to our university to be successful in track and field.
"When I took the job, I tried to go after some of the best American athletes. I spent my recruiting budget and had nothing to show for it. There's no question that you get a more proven athlete when you bring in a good foreign athlete and until they change the structure, I will continue to do so.
"I didn't even recruit Suleiman Nyambui. Wilson Waigwa (UTEP running star) called me from London and said there was someone with him who wanted to talk to me about coming over here. I asked him who and he said, 'Suleiman Nyambui.' You can be sure I didn't hang up."