The Big East (including Georgetown) beams today with a "contract beyond our wildest dreams" (says Commissioner Dave Gavitt) while that other young college basketball conference, the Eastern Eight (with George Washington), sags again with notice that the University of Pittsburgh will drop out after the coming season.
Madison Square Garden announced yesterday in New York a $1-million, guaranteed three-year contract to stage the Big East tournaments in March 1983, '84 and '85.
"A rebirth -- the most significant development in college basketball at the Garden since Ned Irish," exulted Mike Burke, arena president, harking to the glories of the 1930s and '40s. "Truly a rebirth," concurred retired coach Frank McGuire. "The lights have been turned on again . . ."
Besides that, the Big East recently negotiated a purported $1.6 million regional TV deal, and Pitt took due note of the Eastern Eight's failure to secure any kind of video package in kissing off the conference headquartered in its own city.
"The Eastern Eight is not a viable option," said Jack Freeman, Pitt vice chancellor, as the Panthers follow Penn State out of the league. Said Roy Chipman, Panther basketball coach: "If the Eastern Eight were solid financially, we'd stay. Obviously, it isn't". . .
Some of college basketball's top coaches -- Terry Holland, Denny Crum, Tom Young, Gary Williams et al -- help host Coach Morgan Wootten top the bill at the 16th annual D.C. Coaching Clinic based at De Matha High and the Sheraton-Lanham this Friday-Saturday . . . The Bullets' free-admission intrasquad game at Dunbar at 2 p.m. Saturday is by way of a salute to summer basketball, helping Mayor Marion Barry celebrate Urban Coalition Basketball League Day . . .
The U.S. Auto Club appeals panel has decided on Bobby Unser's protest of his disqualification from his Indianapolis 500 victory, and at 11 a.m. today will announce whether Mario Andretti or Unser is the official winner . . . That call by the bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Richmond to abolish football in Virginia's parochial schools: the Northern Virginia ones are out of his jurisdiction. And the athletic directors at Ireton High in Alexandria and O'Connell in Arlington say they have heard nothing from within their diocese to indicate any thought of dropping their football programs . . .
While Red Auerbach says he and the Boston Celtics will try to negotiate all-America Danny Ainge's freedom from baseball's Toronto Blue Jays, Ainge won't sit idle. The Brigham Young star has taken up BYU Coach Frank Arnold's offer to be a part-timer on his basketball staff . . .
Boo Bowers, American U.'s all-timer taken by Cleveland as 59th man in the NBA draft, didn't make the Cavs. Small consolation, a club spokesman says, "He played well and probably has more potential than the other two we cut with him." (LSU's Ethan Martin, New Mexico's Kenny Page). . .
Services were held yesterday in Riverside, Conn., for Jack Dolph, commissioner of the old American Basketball Association 1969-72 and previously a top executive of CBS sports; he died at 53 Saturday after a round of golf . . . There's a new Marques Johnson "in" the NBA. So we learn with the Kansas City Kings' signing of No. 1 draftee Steve Johnson, the Oregon State center. He and wife Janice, daughter of Stu Inman, Portland Trail Blazers' g.m., named their son Marques . . . Another of the ubiquitous NBA Johnsons, John of Seattle, has gone on record with a complaint that some reporters don't give blacks in the league an even break; viz., "When you're a black athlete and you're over 30, you're old. Yet if you're a white athlete and over 30, you're amazing and unbelievable," said Johnson, who turns 34 next week and hears "stuff like, 'J.J., he's old and he can't come back' ". . . .
Sad commentary on the state of U.S. women's pro basketball: the marvelous Lynette Woodard, college player of the year at Kansas, off to an Italian league. And Ann Meyers, on a three-year, $130,000 contract with WBL's New Jersey Gems, played one year and didn't return. "My contract said I get paid twice a month for 12 months but when the season ended, I stopped getting paid," Meyers said. "Then I got a check and it bounced." In fact, all signs point to no 1981-82 WBL season . . .
A. Augusta National, home of the Masters, has been dropped from Golf Digest's top 10 courses in America. Expert panel cited Augusta's failure to place a premium on driving accuracy and its tendency to an undue advantage to long hitters . . . Q. What top sportscaster is considering 1982 candidacy for U.S. senator from Florida? Initial hint: P.S.