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Anti-Sweatshop Protests Escalate at U.S. Universities

From university wire

As nationwide anti-sweatshop protests continued Wednesday- with sit-ins staged at two universities-representatives from a number of schools met at University of Wisconsin in Madison (UW) to discuss administrative response.

Students at the University of Arizona in Tucson started a sit-in late Wednesday in protest of a proposed anti-sweatshop code. At presstime, details of the Arizona protest were unavailable.

A similar sit-in at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill campus enters its third day Thursday. Students at Brown University avoided a sit-in Wednesday, negotiating a set of conditions which would monitor the factories where the school's apparel is made.

The meeting at the University of Wisconsin follows months of sweatshop debate at schools nationwide. A national student coalition, United Students Against Sweatshops- which now boasts more than 100 university members- has helped initiate protests at several schools.

Protest is now largely centered around university involvement with the Fair Labor Agreement, which was drafted by a group of corporations, human-rights organizations and two labor unions.

Eric Brakken, chair of Associated Students of Madison and USAS member, said student and labor activists have found severe flaws in the code. The code would allow corporations to dictate factory inspections, and its board of directors would have little university representation, he said.

“Any three corporations would basically have veto power over any changes to the FLA,” he said. As of now, Brakken said USAS is asking for a moratorium on schools signing on to the FLA. Universities should work to create an alternative monitoring program, he said.

Casey Nagy, assistant to the provost and coordinator of UW CLC negotiations, said the UW meeting precedes a meeting with administrators in Washington, D.C., next week.

(By Claire Herbst -- Badger Herald, 4/22/99)

Recruiters taint tale of NCAA

It was formed in 1905 by 62 members and called the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States, but the NCAA didn’t get serious until 1951.

That's when rampant cheating and worries about the effects of television on college football game attendance got to be enough. A part-time executive assistant named Walter Byers was given the reigns, a national headquarters was established in Kansas City and, in 1952, the NCAA began enforcing rules.

At about the same time, in New York City, an odd “single guy, with no family, who loved basketball” named Fred Stegman was creating a new business. Nicknamed “Spook” because he seemed to materialize out of thin air, Stegman showed up at all the big playground games and began taking notes on the best players. Soon enough, he was working for several schools, sending them recruits for pay.

“I was like a stringer for (The Associated Press) news wire,” Stegman said in the 1998 book “Pickup Artists,” by Lars Anderson and Chad Millman. “I'd find a kid on some playground and think, 'Hey, he would be perfect for this school.' Then I'd pick up the phone and set something up.”

Stegman's profession has since mutated into countless legions of test-fixing, deal-cutting street brokers, while the NCAA -- which now counts more than 1,200 members -- is preparing for a permanent move to Indianapolis under its third leader, President Cedric Dempsey.

And an increase in the NCAA enforcement division from one to 17 agents hasn't done much to inhibit the hustling of athletes for cash.

“We think there is a considerable amount of cheating, some of which we get to and some of which we don't,” said David Price, the NCAA's vice president of enforcement. “There is a more compliant atmosphere (at schools) than there was eight to 10 years ago. But I'm not naive enough to think that it takes care of everything.”

Numerous rule changes have taken place over the years, among them a piece of legislation in 1987 that barred “representatives of a school's athletic interests” from communication with a recruit. In short, boosters were banned from the process. As a result, the role of independent agents with no school ties -- like the summer league coaches -- gained importance.

A year prior, the NCAA began enforcing Proposition 48, which required athletes to earn a minimum grade-point average of 2.0 and score at least a 700 on the SAT or 15 on the ACT. Nonqualifiers must sit out and lose their first year of eligibility. Critics say this makes an athletic prospect who also is a sure qualifier -- like Lansing Waverly junior guard Marcus Taylor -- that much hotter a commodity.

Taylor is rated the top player in the nation by recruiting expert Bob Gibbons.

“Recruiting is important, but how you recruit and who you recruit is more important,” MSU head coach Tom Izzo said. “We try to recruit the best players, but also players that will fit our system and want to get an education.”

(By Joe Rexrode -- The State News, 4/22/99)