Saluki Sports Update

Only the bottom-line number was disappointing, as almost 100 former high school coaches, administrators, referees and other Southern Illinoisans involved in the area sports scene enjoyed a day of visiting recently at Frank Bleyer’s hide-a-way west of Carbondale. Seems some are no longer around after reaching 80 or so.

The stories, although some are re-runs, never fail to entertain, and the event will be on calendars for years to come. 

Personally I just dream Bill Brown, SIU’s former assistant A.D., and Merle Jones, who needs no intro, would come driving up just one more time. What a treat that would be, not only personally, but for everyone else in attendance.

Nevertheless those who did manage to make it filled in well and the conversations were priceless.

Unfortunately Jerry Kill, SIU’s new sports boss, was not present, so, with the sun not yet down, we simply stopped by the SIU Arena for a brief chat with the guy. And, as expected, it was well worth our time.

Even though Coach Kill, make that A.D. Kill, looked just a little out of place sitting at the big desk, he’ll grow into it. And, we couldn’t help but tell him about one of our favorite “A.D.-desk” stories.

Seems Jack Hartman, the guy who coached SIU teams that first played in the Arena in 1964, had a problem with A.D. Don Boydston’s decision on a serious matter one day. 

Hartman, who definitely had a mind of his own, slammed his fist on the thick glass covering the desk. While thick, it gave way.  Boydston, who told us the story, didn’t flinch and Hartman never slowed his speech, much less said anything. It was like nothing had happened.

However, the next morning when Boydston made his usual 7:15 appearance, a sparkling new piece of glass was already in place. Neither of the two ever mentioned it to the other. And, that figures, knowing them.

Boydston and Hartman were both Oklahoma State grads. Neither messed much with small talk or with words like “oops” or “gee, sorry” or whatever.

Neither Boydston, a Texas Relays and OSU high jump champion in his younger days, and Hartman, who was a quarterback at OSU, in addition to being a scholarship basketball player there, got involved in small talk.

It’s not part of the glass-breaking story, but interesting to note that Hartman heard Hank Iba’s reminder: “Hey, boy, you’re here on a basketball scholarship, not football and you can’t do both.”  

Hartman, of course, heard him, dropped football and concentrated on basketball. 

The reason that’s of interest is that Hartman went on to play professional football in Canada before becoming a superb college basketball coach.

And, also noteworthy is the fact Iba brought his basketball team to SIU for the dedication of the SIU Arena. We can still see him sitting quietly on the visitor’s bench while Hartman’s Salukis administered a 78-55 thumping to OSU.

Surely, certainly, Hartman said something nice to Iba, who was one of the sport’s finest ever coaches.  But, then again.

This is my last column of the 2017-2018 school year. See you again next year...hopefully.

The Gazette-Democrat

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