Muhammad Ali, now "the rotund one" at a reported 270 pounds, insists he can beat WBA heavyweight champion John Tate and, according to Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, the two might meet in a title bout in late June.

"I have advised Ali against doing many things in the past and he had gone ahead and done them," Arum said. "And he often turned out right.

I advised him about not going into the army. I thought George Foreman would scramble his brains. I was wrong and Ali was right.

"So, it is difficult for me to say don't do this." It really is up to him. If he really wants to do it, I can make the match for late June.

The Atlanta Flames, badly in need of an attendence book, gave just signed Olympic goalie Jim Craig the red carpet treatment yesterday in Atlanta.

Craig, who led the U.S. Olympic team to a gold medal and that stirring upset over the Soviet Union, was greeted by a band, the mayor and 2,000 fans at a public press conference at an ice rink adjacent to the Omni, where he will start in goal against Colorado tonight.

Meanwhile, three more Olympic heroes signed NHL contracts; Mark Johnson with the Pittsburgh Penguines, Dave Christian with the Winnipeg Jets and Ken Morrow with the New York Islanders.

Winnipeg Jets President Michael Gobuty said he hopes Bobby Hull will remain on the club's board of directors, even though the Golden Jet has been traded to the Hartford Whalers.

Gobuty said Hull, one of several shareholders in Victorian Leather, owners of the Jets, does not want to sell his interest in the club.

NHL Executive Vice President Brian O'Neill said he has not considered the question of Hull's ownership in one club while he plays for another, "But my initial reaction is Hull will have to divest himself of his Winnipeg interests."

Bowie State defensive end Sid Gardner signed a two-year contract with the Willie Wood-coached Toronto Argonauts and is due at rookie camp May 24.

Gardner averaged more than 15 tackles per game, had 24 quarterback sacks and was named to the NAIA All-America first team.

A systematic search of all athletes' academic records back to 1977 for fraudulent course credits has been ordered by the executive director of the Pacific-10 Conference.

In a memo to conference schools, Wiles Hallock listed 19 junior colleges and institutions that offer extension courses. Hallock did not publicly name the schools. Athletes from four Pac-10 schools have been found to have forged transcripts crediting them with courses they never completed.