Congressional leaders, attempting to block the Naval Academy from cutting some of its varsity sports programs next year, voted yesterday to withhold part of the academy's budget until they are certain the teams will remain intact.
The Senate Appropriations Committee voted to impound $5 million of Navy's $115 million budget after hearing that academy officials are considering eliminating men's and women's fencing, men's and women's volleyball and women's track.
The action, taken as part of a vote on the Pentagon's budget, requires the funds to remain segregated until the academy "provides assurances that the full range of intercollegiate sports programs being offered to midshipmen" this year are continued into the next.
Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), a member of the academy's Board of Visitors, said she is particularly concerned about the impact such a move would have on female midshipmen. "It is often only in sports that the academy lets a woman prove herself," Mikulski said.
Academy and congressional sources said the cutbacks are being considered because Navy expects to have fewer students in the future, making it more difficult to field complete teams.
Athletic Director Jack Lengyel said last week that his office has hired a consultant to review Navy's sports program and that making cutbacks could be one of the consultant's recommendations. "I don't know that is not going to happen," he said.
But an academy spokesman said yesterday that the school's superintendent, Rear Adm. Virgil L. Hill Jr., has "no intention of cutting any sports, men's or women's." . . .
Texas-El Paso assistant basketball coach Norm Ellenberger said he has accepted a job as an assistant to Bobby Knight at Indiana. Ellenberger was forced out as New Mexico's coach in a transcript-fixing scandal in 1979. . . .
Highly regarded UCLA freshman Ed O'Bannon suffered a serious knee injury in a pickup basketball game on campus late Tuesday and will be sidelined for the season. He has a torn anterior cruciate ligament and torn meniscus cartilage. O'Bannon, 6 feet 8, averaged 24.6 points, 9.7 rebounds and 3.4 assists as a high school senior last season and was one of the country's most highly recruited prep players. . . .
The University of Illinois Board of Trustees voted to keep Chief Illiniwek despite objections that the athletic symbol is offensive and racist. The trustees voted, 7 to 1, to continue the tradition, with one abstention. Chief Illiniwek is a student dressed in Indian clothing who dances at football and basketball games. . . .
Washington football coach Don James has been named as a defendant in a lawsuit filed by the school's No. 2 all-time rusher. Vince Weathersby, a Huskie in 1985-88, also filed suit in King County Superior Court against the team physician and trainers. In his suit he alleges negligence in treating a shoulder injury suffered in 1987 has caused long-term problems.