Many of Howard University's athletes boycotted the school's All Sports Banquet last night and issued a list of 18 demands they feel "must be met by Howard's administration before any further and more severe repercussions take place."
No soccer players or wrestlers attended. Only two basketball players and a dozen football players were present for their three-hour awards banquet. The vast majority of the other teams' members did attend.
The controversial event was accented by remarks by Lincoln Phillips, the veteran soccer coach who has publicly accused the administration and athletic department of incompetence and intentional negligence, and by A. B. Williamson, the basketball coach.
Standing at the dias before a gathering of nearly 200 in the Blackburn University Center, Phillips said:
"The members of the soccer team have chosen to boycott this banquet. I regret that conditions in our athletic department have reached the point where athletes have to stay away from their own banquet.
"But all is not well here.
"This boycott is a cry for help. Whoever said we are committed to big time athletics . . . it is a farce, a joke."
Phillips received a loud, standing ovation from most of those in the ballroom.
Only a few moments later, Williamson said:
"For those players who can't get along they have the option of the transfer. And for those coaches who can't solve problems within, there are many other jobs. Leave and seek other jobs." His remarks were met with scattered applause.
Afterward, Leo Miles, the athletic director who had been the main target of criticism inside and outside the university, said, "We put on a banquet here. I don't have anything to say about any boycott."
Miles said he hadn't had a chance to read the list of demands passed out before the banquet.
The second of the 18 said: "Leo Miles, chairman of the athletic department is incompetent and must be removed immediately."
Many of the other demands addressed deficiences cited by a university task force that issued its latest report last week. The task force was formed last spring to investigate charges that the football coaches had physically and verbally abused players.
One such demand states that the availability of doctors or certified paramedical personnel must be increased during practices and games.
Another demands a training table be established with balanced and nutritional meals, including liquid refreshments. The atheletes are demanding more meal money for all road trips, and overnight accommodations for trips longer than 3 1/2 hours or 250 miles.
Several of the demands focused on improving conditions for the tae kwon do team and intramural sports at Howard.
"This alliance (initially formed by the football and soccer teams) is unique at Howard," one boycotting athlete said. "We've never had a organization where players protect other players. But we do now."