LATE-BREAKING BULLETIN - The University of Alabama, after consulting with Gina Basile, has announced it will relinquish the co-first place award and accept third. NCAA officials were unavailable at press time to say whether they will accept Alabama's decision.gross but fixable - gives an Alabama woman a share she may not have earned of Missy Marlowe's NCAA balance beam championship and keeps two other gymnasts from rightful second and third finishes is unlikely to be changed.
The NCAA Women's Gymnastics Executive Committee met in Tuscaloosa, Ala., site of the national championships, early Sunday and chose to keep Alabama's Gina Basile co-champion with Utah's Marlowe, even though the committee, judges and scorers admit to never noticing an arithmetic error - averaging 9.85 and 9.8 and coming up with 9.875 for Basile. The apparent proper score, 9.825, would tie her for third with Oregon State's Chari Knight and give Georgia's Hope Spivey second. Marlowe would win the title outright."No change is going to be made," said NCAA representative Nancy Latimore. "We are unwilling to take away an NCAA championship because of an administrative error."
"This makes a joke of our national championships," said Ute Coach Greg Marsden. "The appearance is so horrible."
Said Georgia Coach Suzanne Yoculan. "I don't see the harm being done to make the change; there's more harm in not making it. If something goes wrong, make it right."
The team championship won by Alabama over Utah Friday is not involved. The alleged mistake came in Saturday's individual-event finals.
It seems to have begun when head beam judge Sandy Oldham of Chicago averaged the four judges' scores in her head and assumed it would be verified as she went on with judging duties. That's normal procedure. The mistake apparently went unnoticed by meet referee Carol Bunge of Denver and a scorekeeper at the judges' table, who relayed totals to Darrell Gardner of Southern California, who typed them into a word processor.
Gardner notes a judge's handwritten score might have been illegible and recorded wrong and Basile may indeed be co-champ.
However, neither Latimore nor an NCAA committee member nor Oldham mentioned that, and the scores were read to Gardner as 9.85, 9.8, 9.8, 9.9 with a noncounting 9.85 from the meet ref.
And Yoculan figured the score as 9.825 in her head, going by numbers publicly flashed. "In terms of performance, no question Missy won," said Yoculan, who assumed she was mistaken on scores and said nothing. "I could just punch myself," she said.
Reporters discovered the problem and contacted Marsden, who reported it to the committee, which met for 45 minutes following a banquet and got back to him at 2 a.m. CDT.
The decision to stand pat was based on the fact the awards had been distributed and on a rule that says once scoresheets are signed, they are official, said Latimore and committee member Leah Little of Kentucky.
But Marsden did not sign the sheet, as required. Assistant Megan Marsden did when she was told to. Greg was in the media interview room, as directed, and was not approached about signing.
"That's the leg to stand on; the fact Greg didn't sign," said Yoculan.
Had results been computerized, as on Friday, the computer could have found the error, but NCAA rules for finals night insist on the meet referee's score.