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In Sports from United Press International

July 10, 2002 at 3:54 PM   |   Comments

Criminal charges against Iverson pending

PHILADELPHIA, July 10 (UPI) -- The chairman of Augusta National Golf Club, the course where one of the world's great sports spectacles is played each year, said Tuesday said the club would not be coerced into changing its membership policies.

William "Hootie" Johnson issued a stinging reply to the head of the National Council of Women's Organizations, Martha Burk, to a suggestion that Augusta National ought to diversify its membership before the Masters in 2003 to include its first-ever woman member.

"We want the American public to be aware of this action right from the beginning. We have advised Dr. Burk that we do not intend to participate in such backroom discussions," said Johnson, who received a letter from Burk, dated June 12. "We take our membership very seriously. It is the very fabric of our club. Our members are people who enjoy each other's company and the game of golf. Our membership alone decides our membership -- not any outside group with its own agenda."

Johnson also suggested that Burk tying the issue to next year's Masters was inappropriate.

"Dr. Burk's letter incorporates a deadline tied to the Masters and refers to sponsors of the tournament's telecast (by CBS Sports). These references make it abundantly clear that Augusta National Golf Club is being threatened with a public campaign designed to use economic pressure to achieve a goal of NCWO. Augusta National and the Masters -- while happily entwined -- are quite different. One is a private golf club. The other is a world-class sports event of great public interest. It is insidious to attempt to use one to alter the essence of the other. The essence of a private club is privacy. We expect such a campaign would attempt to depict the members of our club as insensitive bigots and coerce the sponsors of the Masters to disassociate themselves under threat, real or implied, of boycotts and other economic pressures. We certainly hope none of that happens. However, the message delivered to us was clearly coercive. We will not be bullied, threatened or intimidated."

The NCWO is the nation's oldest and largest coalition of women's groups, with 160 member organizations.

During this year's Masters, Lyman Ward, currently the club's lone black member and the first black to be CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee, said he would be in favor of making the membership broader to include women.

"I was surprised that Hootie Johnson reacted so strongly," Burk said in a telephone interview with the New York Times. "He obviously went ballistic. I thought the club was already leaning in the direction of adding women, and I thought that this could be a quiet discussion. The club's record of excluding women members speaks for itself. This is an effort to get Augusta National to open its membership. We think they should be at the forefront of having nondiscriminatory membership practices."

The Times report said Augusta's membership list is private, but there are about 300 members. The club says it has no membership restrictions based on race, color, religion, gender or national origin. But Augusta National has no female members, and fewer than 10 members are African-American.

Also, women are allowed to play at the club if they play with a member. Karrie Webb and Kelly Robbins of the LPGA Tour played at Augusta National this year, and the club also played host to the University of South Carolina's women's team.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Burk threatened to contact Masters sponsors such as Atlanta-based Coca-Cola and ask that they not do business with a club without female members.


"Hootie" lashes out at women's group

AUGUSTA, Ga., July 9 (UPI) -- The chairman of Augusta National Golf Club, the course where one of the world's great sports spectacles is played each year, said Tuesday said the club would not be coerced into changing its membership policies.

William "Hootie" Johnson issued a stinging reply to the head of the National Council of Women's Organizations, Martha Burk, to a suggestion that Augusta National ought to diversify its membership before the Masters in 2003 to include its first-ever woman member.

"We want the American public to be aware of this action right from the beginning. We have advised Dr. Burk that we do not intend to participate in such backroom discussions," said Johnson, who received a letter from Burk, dated June 12. "We take our membership very seriously. It is the very fabric of our club. Our members are people who enjoy each other's company and the game of golf. Our membership alone decides our membership -- not any outside group with its own agenda."

Johnson also suggested that Burk tying the issue to next year's Masters was inappropriate.

"Dr. Burk's letter incorporates a deadline tied to the Masters and refers to sponsors of the tournament's telecast (by CBS Sports). These references make it abundantly clear that Augusta National Golf Club is being threatened with a public campaign designed to use economic pressure to achieve a goal of NCWO. Augusta National and the Masters -- while happily entwined -- are quite different. One is a private golf club. The other is a world-class sports event of great public interest. It is insidious to attempt to use one to alter the essence of the other. The essence of a private club is privacy. We expect such a campaign would attempt to depict the members of our club as insensitive bigots and coerce the sponsors of the Masters to disassociate themselves under threat, real or implied, of boycotts and other economic pressures. We certainly hope none of that happens. However, the message delivered to us was clearly coercive. We will not be bullied, threatened or intimidated."

The NCWO is the nation's oldest and largest coalition of women's groups, with 160 member organizations.

During this year's Masters, Lyman Ward, currently the club's lone black member and the first black to be CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee, said he would be in favor of making the membership broader to include women.

"I was surprised that Hootie Johnson reacted so strongly," Burk said in a telephone interview with the New York Times. "He obviously went ballistic. I thought the club was already leaning in the direction of adding women, and I thought that this could be a quiet discussion. The club's record of excluding women members speaks for itself. This is an effort to get Augusta National to open its membership. We think they should be at the forefront of having nondiscriminatory membership practices."

The Times report said Augusta's membership list is private, but there are about 300 members. The club says it has no membership restrictions based on race, color, religion, gender or national origin. But Augusta National has no female members, and fewer than 10 members are African-American.

Also, women are allowed to play at the club if they play with a member. Karrie Webb and Kelly Robbins of the L.P.G.A. Tour played at Augusta National this year, and the club also played host to the University of South Carolina's women's team.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Burk threatened to contact Masters sponsors such as Atlanta-based Coca-Cola and ask that they not do business with a club without female members.


WNBA All-Star reserves named

NEW YORK, July 10 (UPI) -- Five first-timers were among the dozen

reserves selected Wednesday to participate in the WNBA All-Star Game.

Guard Marie Ferdinand and forward Adrienne Goodson of the Utah Starzz were selected to the Western Conference team. Forwards Sheri Sam of the Miami Sol, Penny Taylor of the Cleveland

Rockers and Tammy Sutton-Brown of the Charlotte Sting will make their first appearances for the Eastern Conference.

Ferdinand and Goodson will be joined on the Western Conference team by guard Tamecka Dixon and forward Mwadi Mabika of the Los Angeles Sparks, guard Katie Smith of the Minnesota Lynx and center Lauren Jackson of the Seattle Storm.

The remainder of the Eastern Conference squad includes guard Shannon Johnson and forward Nykesha Sales of the Orlando Miracle and guard Andrea Stinson of Charlotte.

The WNBA All-Star Game will be held at MCI Center in Washington, D.C. on Monday.

The reserves were selected in balloting of WNBA coaches while the starters were elected in fan voting.

Houston Comets forward Sheryl Swoopes was the WNBA's fan favorite for the third time in four years. She topped all players with 97,631 votes in final balloting.

Chamique Holdsclaw of the host Washington Mystics received the most votes among Eastern Conference players with 89,381, and will start in the All-Star Game for the fourth straight year.

Swoopes will be joined in the Western Conference starting lineup by teammate Tina Thompson (75,332) at forward, Los Angeles center Lisa Leslie (74,156) and Seattle's Sue Bird (70,026) and Ticha Penicheiro of Sacramento (61,926) at guard.

Holdsclaw will be joined on the East team by Indiana's Tamika Catchings (69,827) at forward, New York's Tari Phillips (74,156) at center, and Teresa Weatherspoon (80,973) and Dawn Staley of Charlotte (56,993) at guard.


MLS suspends Colorado forward two games

NEW YORK, July 10 (UPI) -- Major League Soccer Wednesday suspended Colorado Rapids forward John Spencer two games and fined him $4,750 for his actions in a game on July 4 against the Chicago Fire.

Spencer was shown a red card during the 35th minute of Colorado's 3-2 victory for leading with his elbow during a leap for the ball. On his way off the field, he continued with what was termed "aggressive dissent," resulting in the suspension.

The penalties are in addition to the automatic $250 fine and one-game suspension for receiving a red card.

He had no comment on the disciplinary action.


Armstrong gains ground in team time trial

CHATEAU-THIERRY, France, July 10 (UPI) -- Igor Gonzalez Galdeano of Spain grabbed the overall lead in the Tour de France at the end of Wednesday's team time trial while three-time defending champion Lance Armstrong moved into third place, just seven seconds behind.

The team time trial, only one of which is contested during the three-week competition, was raced over 67.5 kilometers and Armstrong's U.S. Postal team did just what it had hoped to do.

Armstrong's team produced the second-fastest time of the day, ensuring the world's most famous cyclist would not have much time to make up when the tour reaches the mountains next week.

In Wednesday's stage, each of the 21 nine-man teams race as a unit and the time turned in by the team is assigned to each individual member of that team.

The ONCE team recorded the best time of 1:19.49 with U.S. Postal being clocked in 1:20.05.

Gonzalez Galdeano was the best-placed member of the ONCE team going into Wednesday, having started the day in 12th place, 26 seconds behind front-runner Erik Zabel.

But with the ONCE team finishing more than two minutes ahead of Zabel's German Telekom team, Gonzalez Galdeano leaped to the top of the overall standings. Another ONCE rider, Joseba Beloki of Spain, emerged in second place -- four seconds behind.

Then came Armstrong, a mere seven seconds back. Since Armstrong has dominated in the mountains and in individual time trials during the last three tours, he is expected to pull away from the field when those stages arrive in the coming days.

"It was fluid and consistent and I'm content with the team's effort," Armstrong said.

France's Laurent Jalabert, who began the day tied with Armstrong for fourth place and 17 seconds out of the lead, seemed destined to take over the yellow jersey that goes to the overall leader when his CSC-Tiscali team had the lead at each of the first two checkpoints.

But his team slowed over the final 20 kilometers and had to settle for the third-fastest time -- 46 seconds behind ONCE and 30 seconds behind U.S. Postal. That left Jalabert 37 seconds behind Gonzalez Galdeano.

After Armstrong in third place, the top 10 was rounded out by Jorg Jaksche of Germany, Abraham Olano of Spain, Roberto Heras of Spain, Isidro Nozal of Spain, Jose Azevedo of Portugal, George Hincapie of the United States and Marcos Serrano of Spain.

The top 14 in the overall standings were from either the ONCE or U.S. Postal teams.

Thursday's stage will be a pack ride of 195 kilometers from Soissons to Rouen.


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