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Keeping Score

By Cindy Luis

Wednesday, April 19, 2000

Dropping the (volley)ball
by the Aztecs

W ITH all of the suddenness of a bullet serve by Costas Theocharidis, San Diego State last week announced it was dropping its men's volleyball program.

It is sad news for men's volleyball nationally.

There will be only 21 Division I programs next year. Its status as an NCAA championship sport is in jeopardy.

Just as Team USA is making great strides to regain its Olympic gold-medal form, one of the veins of the talent pool is being slashed.

Aztec athletic director Rick Bay said the decision was entirely revenue-based. By cutting the program - SDSU is now down to six men's sports - the athletics department will be able to save about $110,000.

Women's sports will lose that same amount - but the amount will be spread across 11 teams.

The deficit was due mostly because revenue from sports such as men's basketball and football did not meet projected levels. The average home football attendance was a little more than 30,000 and men's basketball attracted fewer than 3,000 a contest.

Hard to believe that nearly 30 years ago (1973), the Aztecs won what is still the school's only national title. That team drew upwards to 5,000 a match; this year's team averaged 135.

Here's hoping that the school will rethink its decision and give men's volleyball a fighting chance.

WITH apologies to Thomas Wolfe, you can go home again.

But maybe you shouldn't.

A quick trip to the mainland last week confirmed that. Cleaning out a closet at my mother's house was like being zapped into a time warp.

In the shoe boxes were multiple layers of a life that doesn't seem so long ago. But then "That 70's Show'' also seems like the only reality-based sitcom on television these days (not that I watch it).

As I pointed out to my son, someone on the promotion for the show was wearing an aloha shirt similar to one we had recently seen hanging on a rack at H.I.C. Shocking pink and orange. Pretty bitchin', huh?

But I digress.

Amid the concert stubs for The Who and Santana - at $7.50 a pop - was a program and stub from the 1975 Final Four. The admission price was $12 a day to see UCLA escape against Louisville then survive against Kentucky at the San Diego Sports Arena.

It was coach John Wooden's farewell performance in the NCAA Tournament. A month later - according to the program from the event - the Bruin coach had a birthday/retirement party at Pauley Pavilion.

When one looked at Wooden during the recent telecast of the Final Four, it didn't seem like he had aged a day in the past quarter of a century. He's still "that nice man,'' as the daughter of staff writer Paul Arnett says.

Chloe Arnett happened to sit next to Wooden on an airplane flight a while back and she wasn't intimidated. At 10 years of age, why would she be?

She had no problems chatting with the legend. I can remember that it took me nearly all of fall quarter of my freshman year at UCLA just to get up enough courage to say good morning to Wooden as he came off the Drake Stadium track following his morning walk and I was heading to an 8 a.m. class.

It all seemed like yesterday, bell-bottoms and all, when the dust brought me back to reality. One sneeze and the gray hair was back on that person staring back in the mirror.

My mother let me keep a box at her house. It's amazing how many memories can be crammed into one shoebox.

Fortunately, they used to hold platform shoes.

Cindy Luis is Star-Bulletin sports editor.
Her column appears weekly.

E-mail to Sports Editor

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