College basketball coaches are routinely offered personal cash payments to take their teams to regular-season tournaments. The payments generally range from $500 to $2,000, in addition to sizable team guarantees paid to the school.
Although there are no NCAA rules prohibiting such payments to coaches--usually given as stipends or honorariums for speaking at a tournament banquet or participating in a clinic--there is much debate within intercollegiate athletics about the practice.
"I couldn't go out on the street and face people if I scheduled Illinois and I put $1,000 in my pocket," said Coach Thomas (Skip) Chappelle of Maine.
"All they're trying to do is entice you to bring your team into their tournament," said Boston College Coach Gary Williams, who says he turned down a $1,000 offer from Wichita State.
"Once individual stipends become part of game contracts, institutions lose control of it (scheduling)," said John Toner, athletic director at Connecticut and NCAA president.
"I'm not trying to take money out of the coach's pocket," said Bob Frailey, American University athletic director and a member of the NCAA executive committee. "But there's a right way and a wrong way, and this seems a little odoriferous to me."
In letters to coaches, copies of which were obtained by The Washington Post, here is what some schools offered:
From Southern Illinois University:
"In 1983-84, we are also initiating a Classic in conjunction with Anheiser (sic) Busch. The dates are Dec. 9-10. The team guarantee is negotiable. There will be a $2,000 honorarium paid to the head coaches for making themselves available for public appearances while at the Classic . . ."
"The tournament features free local transportation and gifts for the traveling party. The guarantee is $15,000, plus a $1,000 speaking stipend for the Head Coach."
From James Madison, received by a school a few weeks after losing to JMU:
"We can offer a cash guarantee of $7,000. In addition each head coach will be given an honorarium of $500 to speak at our Pre-Tournament Banquet. Please be assured this is a first-class event with individual gifts to each participant, special gifts to each head coach . . ."
These excerpts are only examples of the competition by approximately 80-85 in-season tournaments to make up a field in which one team has to lose two games. That competition is intense to get suitable opponents that the home team and the other "name" team can beat in the first round, assuring the acceptance of that "name" team and likely box-office success.
When Georgetown University signed a contract to play in this season's Wendy's Classic at Bowling Green, Ky., the Hoyas had a clause in the contract that allowed them approval of their first-round opponent. Georgetown submitted the names of six schools to the tournament, according to Dan Davis, president of Wendy's of Bowling Green. They were, with the previous season's record in parentheses: Delaware State (13-13), Army (5-22), Lehigh (14-12), Cornell (10-16), Yale (13-13) and St. Francis, Pa., (6-20).
The Hoyas ended up playing St. Francis and won, 75-40. St. Francis won the consolation game over Northern Iowa and received a $12,000 guarantee plus about $10,000 in expenses, according to Davis.
In addition to Illinois, Wichita State, Southern Illinois and James Madison, coaches and athletic directors interviewed for this story say that the University of Alabama-Birmingham, Oklahoma, Bradley, Georgia, Western Kentucky, Ball State, Evansville and Tennessee-Chattanooga are among schools that give stipends to tournament coaches.
Some see such payments as nothing more than appearance money, an incentive for a coach to select one tournament over another, even though his team may stand a greater chance of losing both games it plays in the event.
Others say such payments are fair for the services rendered. Many coaches who say they have received such payments or would take them if offered maintain they would use the money not for personal gain but for expenses incurred in the program. "I'd get the permission of my athletic director and the university and add it to my recruiting budget," said Gerry Gimelstob of George Washington.
None said he chose a tournament because of the money he would receive.
Until this year, Ron Ferguson, athletic director at Bradley University, gave the coaches coming to his River City Classic in Peoria, Ill., a video-casette recorder, worth about $800 retail. Now Ferguson is giving cash, $1,000, to "be a five-minute speaker at a luncheon and discuss whatever."
Ferguson said: "My coach is influenced by that (the cash) because he influenced me to do that. I saw the letters come across his desk, and he only picked the ones where they were giving stipends."
"If I were still a coach, I could make a living by playing in 10 or 11 tournaments a season," said Jack Kvancz, athletic director at George Mason University.
That's the temptation involved, said Ed Tapscott, the first-year coach at American University who said he has never been paid a speaking fee.
"The problem is that you've got the potential for abuse. Witness the recruiting scene. When there's temptation, somebody will take advantage of it," he said. "Why can't I negotiate? He says, '$10,000 (team guarantee) and $1,000 stipend.' I say, '$9,000 and $2,000.' Now there's where you have the potential for abuse. It indicates something of a deeper nature, a sickness behind the symptoms."
Almost all Division I colleges and universities that play host to regular-season tournaments award players gifts, such as watches or travel bags, within NCAA limitations. Coaches usually receive additional gifts, such as clothes, golf bags and golf clubs. But not all tournaments give money to the coaches in addition to sizable guarantees paid to the schools.
National powers Indiana and Kentucky are among the schools that give gifts but not cash. Dick Dull, Maryland's athletic director, said he is against the giving of stipends or honorariums and that Maryland did not give them when it held the Maryland Invitational each December.
The University of Alabama-Birmingham is among the schools that regularly give stipends. Gene Bartow, the coach and athletic director, said UAB usually pays a $500 to $1,000 speaking fee to visiting coaches at its tournament for participating in six hours of clinics for local youngsters over two days. Bartow said a few coaches have been paid "a couple thousand dollars."
"We run a clinic for the Police Athletic League and for kids 10-15. It runs from 9 a.m. till noon on two days," Bartow said. "It's a service to the community, and I like to do it because it is a service to the coaches, too. He's here, and it's nice to give him a few hundred dollars. I don't look at it as something that attracts a team to our tournament. Maybe it has in a case or two . . .
"Coaches need to help coaches out if they can, and you help 200-300 young people out, too. It's a nice gesture. I do it because it helps coaches and kids, and it adds a touch of class to the overall tournament."
Many schools also routinely pay coaches at least $100 for speaking at booster club luncheons on the day of a regular-season game. The speech rarely includes more than a brief description of the coach's team.
"I'm not opposed to taking the money if I deliver the service," said Georgetown Coach John Thompson. "I know buying games is a business some dumb people get involved in. But any coach who makes a schedule predicated on a stipend won't be in the business very long."
Before the Hoyas played in the Wendy's Classic, Thompson said that Wendy's (a hamburger chain) offered him a $500 speaking fee, less than his normal speaking fee. He said his practice in recent years has been not to participate in clinics or speaking engagements at game sites, and that he had not decided whether he would participate in the Wendy's tournament. After Georgetown had won the tournament, Thompson declined to say what he did. A Wendy's official said Thompson spoke at a tournament dinner and received the stipend.
Georgetown received a $10,000 guarantee, and another $10,000 of its expenses were paid by the Wendy's tournament. That sort of arrangement is typical, since some athletic departments are supposed to be self-sufficient and others are financed out of a general university fund. Thus, the coach or athletic director whose budget comes from a general university fund can maximize his resources by agreeing to a small guarantee with all expenses paid by the tournament. That is why some tournaments say the team guarantee is negotiable, according to Bradley's Ferguson.
Thus, in these situations, the coach goes away with cash and the athletic director is happy because he does not have to pay for the trip with athletic department money.
"No one's tried to buy me on that," said Dean Smith, coach of defending national champion North Carolina, when asked about stipends. "It doesn't sound right."
Smith said one coach, whom he declined to name, called him to seek his advice. A school was offering a $1,000 speaking fee. What should the coach do? The solution, according to Smith: the coach took the team to a fancy restaurant and spent the entire $1,000 there.
Coaches interviewed said that they knew of no peer who would schedule a game solely on the basis of a speaking fee. But Clem Haskins of Western Kentucky says a team's chances to win the tournament, the team guarantee and exposure are the main factors in choosing a tournament. If they are equal for two tournaments, the next consideration he says, would be "the benefit the coach will receive; we're all human beings, and we could use the money."
Asked if he would accept such a stipend if he had to do nothing except to bring his team to the tournament, Haskins said: "Oh, yes. If somebody would give you money for doing nothing, of course, I'd take it."
George Mason is playing in the University of Alabama-Birmingham's tournament in the 1984-85 season. Mason will receive a $10,000 guarantee and Coach Joe Harrington a $1,000 stipend for participating in Bartow's two-day clinic.
"Is it ethical for the head coach to do it? I don't know," said Harrington, who makes about $40,000-$50,000 annually, including revenue from speaking engagements and endorsements. "I've worked hard to get where I am now. How long can I sustain it? I'm not like a Lefty Driesell or a John Thompson with their summer camps. I don't make a lot of money.
"I didn't accept it just to get our brains beat out. I think we can split. I would have gone down there without it (the stipend), just to be in the tournament. It was just a bonus."
Harrington said he will split the $1,000 with his assistants and use some of it to pay for his membership in the Patriots Club, the athletic department's fund-raising arm. "It would be pure greed for a head coach to keep all the money," he said.
Locally, there currently are no regular-season tournaments conducted by Division I schools. But George Mason will break ground soon for a 10,000-seat arena due to be ready for the 1984-85 season and a tournament is planned, Kvancz said.
"I'd have a banquet, but I would put that in as part of the contract," he said. He would prefer not to offer a coach a stipend.
But he also would have to compete with about 80 other tournaments for teams. "This is a business, just like the entertainment business," Kvancz said. "Anybody having a show says, 'We've got to get Bob Hope . . . I may be forced into doing that (giving speaking fees) if I want a West Virginia coming into my tournament.
"If I was going to give speaking fees, I'd rather pay Dr. J (Julius Erving)--pay his travel expenses, give him $2,000, put him up at the best hotel and send him to dinner at the Rive Gauche."