Despite heavy pressure from the White House, the U.S. Olympic Committee is not likely to make a final decision next weekend on the administration's request that it agree to boycott the Moscow Olympics this summer.
F. Don Miller, the USOC's executive director, said yesterday that he believes a decision will not be made until mid-May, shortly before the May 24 deadline for accepting an invitation to the Games.
The USOC's House of Delegates is to meet in Colorado Springs next weekend and the Carter administration is hoping members will vote then to boycott the Moscow Games because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
The national governing bodies for the 32 Olympic and Pan American Games sports, which control 71 percent of the USOC's vote, last week indicated what Miller called "very strong sentiment for going to Moscow."
Alarmed at what could turn into a political and diplomatic embarrassment for the president and could threaten a hoped-for bandwagon boycott by other countries, the administration has been lobbyng USOC voters extensively.
Some of that lobbying has extended to discouraging financial supporters of the USOC, particularly major corporations, from contributing to the USOC until it agrees to the boycott. The White House has denied directly asking contributors to cut off funds.
Miller said, "We feel a decision (next weekend) would be premature. The international situation is fluid and we want to wait until what we think is an appropriate time. This is not a change in signals."
Miller said he and Robert Kane, USOC president, met for several hours Thursday night in Chicago with Lloyd Cutler, White House counsel who flew there to confer with them just hours after he and other top administration officials briefed USOC voting members on the administration's position on the boycott.
"I think they (the administration) have a growing concern because the attitudes of other countries have changed in favor of going to the Games," said Miller, who was in Chicago with Kane to attend the funeral of Olympian Jesse Owens.
"I think they see that there's been a complete rejection on the part of the athletes and the national governing bodies of their plans for alternate games," Miller continued. "And I think they have a concern with what appears to be a growing militant attitude (to compete in the Games) of many people concerned with the Olympic movement."
White House aides have said that plans for alternate games have been put on the back burner while they concentrate on enlisting support for a boycott from other countries.
"There's no question a vote by us to boycott would impact on other nations," Miller said. "But then we'd lose our credibility in the Olympic movement because it would be tantamount to encouraging them to take similar actions. They should each make their own decisions."
Miller also said he was "very disturbed about the inconsistencies in the administration. On one hand they talk about encouraging corporations to support us and then we find out they're calling the corporations to discourage it."
As Miller spoke, the U.S. water polo team reportedly found itself in a dilemma that allegedly stemmed from a financial backer's decision to withhold funds because of White House pressure.
Robert Helmick, a Des Moines attorney who is secretary of the international aquatics governing body, said the team was waiting in Los Angeles for $15,000 to buy plane tickets to attend an international meet.
Helmick, who also is president of the Amateur Athletic Union, said he received a call Thursday from the team's manager, requesting funds from the USOC for the trip.
Two hours after that call, Helmick said, a man from a major corporation called and said the White House had notified him his firm would have to cut off contributions to the USOC.
"I'm outraged," Helmick said. "What we're really doing is hurting sports in general. The federal government has become involved in the program and is influencing how they "corporations) give charitable donations. Secondly, and what I find more outrageous, is that it's being done secretly." s