WORK-STUDY STUDENT OFFERED OLD JOB, BUT NOT INTERESTED

BY DAVE DAVIS

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

Celebrated work-study employee Monica Lopez was offered her old job back, on the eve of the release of more information that supports her claim that she was fired for complaining about the donation of $25 million to the UH Athletics Department.

Lopez, a former work-study file clerk, was asked to return to her position with the Office of Development, just one week after first alleging the office fired her for speaking out against the gift to the athletics department.

Lopez, who is now employed as a work-study employee with the Office of Sponsored Programs, said she has already decided to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and that the Office of Development's offer to give her her old job back is not affecting her plans.

"There is no way I am going back to that job," Lopez said. "This is just their way of trying to shut me up, and it's not going to work."

Lopez was dismissed from her position with the Office of Development on Oct. 31, one day after complaining to Vice President of External Affairs David Keith about the large donation given to the athletics department.

Lopez accused the office of firing her because of her position on the issue when she found out that the office hired another work-study student the following day -- even though she was told the office was cutting down on the number of work-study employees due to budget constraints.

Lopez said since making her allegations, she has met several people at the university who had similar things happen to them when they attempted to speak out on an issue. Lopez said she is continuing her efforts so that this type of incident will not happen again.

"I am not filing a complaint with the EEOC to get my job back," Lopez said. "I want to make sure that this university's behavior goes on record, and that it won't get to sweep another piece of bad publicity under the rug."

A spokesperson for UH President Marguerite Ross Barnett's office said Barnett is not going to get involved in the matter. Barnett was quoted as saying she felt this was a personnel matter and that the proper people should handle it.

Susan Colter, assistant vice president of development, said the new work-study employee was hired because she had a higher level of office skills and experience than Lopez.

However, Willie Dickerson, a job listing clerk with Career Planning and Placement Center, came forward with the job descriptions for both Lopez' and her replacement's positions that refute this claim.

"The job descriptions for both Monica's position and for the girl who replaced her are almost exactly the same," Dickerson said. "The position that the Office of Development advertised for does not ask for a person with a higher level of skills than Monica's."

Dickerson is the second UH staff member in the past five days to offer information supporting Lopez' claim.

Don Fernandez, assistant director of Scholarships and Work Study, said Thursday that in his six years in his present position, he has never known a work-study employee at UH to be fired for budgetary reasons.

Fernandez explained that the U.S. government provides 70 percent of a work-study employee's salary, and that individual campus departments only pay the remaining 30 percent. Consequently, at $5 per hour, the office was only paying Lopez about $18 per week.

Keith still contends the person who was hired after Lopez' dismissal was hired for a completely different position. Keith said the office decided to offer Lopez her old job because they realized they hadn't handled the situation well.

"We weren't saying that her salary would break the budget," Keith said. "We were just attempting to reorganize the work-study program to include the proper number of people, and we realized that we hadn't communicated that well to Monica."

Colter, who said last week that the office, "didn't need another person to do xeroxing and filing," said the office re-evaluated the circumstances surrounding Lopez' dismissal and reached the conclusion that Lopez' services were needed after all.

"We went back to the drawing board and re-evaluated the budget, and we realized that Monica's position was not breaking us and that we could use her," Colter said.

 

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VETERAN REPORTER ELLERBEE TRYING TO CHANGE THE WORLD

BY REBECCA MCPHAIL

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

News journalist Linda Ellerbee reminisced about her life, on and off the camera, at University of Houston's Clear Lake campus last week.

Nearly 400 people braved the November rain and lunchtime traffic to hear the veteran reporter.

The main topic in Ellerbee's address is also the credo by which she lives.

"Change," she said, "is a form of hope. To believe in change is to believe in tomorrow."

Throughout her 22 years in the television industry, Ellerbee has been no stranger to upheavals in both her personal and professional life.

The former Houstonian began her news career as a journalist in Dallas' Associated Press(AP) bureau during the early 1970s.

"A journalist is an out of work reporter," Ellerbee said, "and I soon discovered just how it felt to be a real journalist."

Soon after being fired from her AP position, Houston's KHOU Channel 11 offered her a spot on its news team. It was her first job in the television industry.

In 1975, she moved to NBC News where she stayed until 1986. During her time at NBC she covered Congress, the White House and various national events. She also anchored and wrote the critically-acclaimed NBC News Overnight.

This show brought her to the attention of ABC executives. In 1986, they offered her a chance to write, produce and anchor her own prime-time series. The series, Our World, was another critical success and Ellerbee won an Emmy for her writing.

Emmy caliber writing, however, could not save the show. "Having it all was having my own show, which I wrote, produced and anchored," Ellerbee said. "Reality was the network running it against the Cosby Show," he said.

During this time, Ellerbee was also writing her first book about television, And So It Goes. Published in 1986, it stayed on the New York Time's best-seller list for 18 weeks and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

Ellerbee is working on a project for children's cable network, Nickelodeon. The project is a series of documentaries for children. Ellerbee said these documentaries are designed, "to use television to make kids feel good about knowing and wanting to know."

In spite of her long and twisted career path, Ellerbee has come to a place in her life that she enjoys yet, she never imagined. "This is wonderful work," she said, "and I'm loving it. But none of it's what I expected."

 

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MURDERS STILL ANGER STUDENTS

IOWA UNIVERSITY FORMS COUNSELING GROUPS

BY ERICKA SCHICHE

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

University of Iowa students and faculty are still reeling from the shock and horror they felt after one of their own alumni went on a shooting spree on campus.

On Nov. 1, physics Ph.D Gang Lu used a .38 caliber revolver to kill four people. He also left one of two critically injured victims paralyzed from the waist down, and the other victim died after being taken off life support.

Shortly after the murders, Lu was found dead from self-inflicted gunshot wounds to the head.

In the wake of tragic situations like this one, campus counselors find themselves responding to the complex needs of the campus community.

Ken Waldman, associate director for counseling and training at UH, said psychiatric counseling was needed when Drama Professor Claude Caux was arrested for the murder of former student and friend Mary Chovanetz.

He said several members of the counseling staff spoke during class with Caux's students about the stunning news.

"The first step in counseling students when something this devastating has occurred involves encouraging them to talk about their feelings and about what happened," Waldman said. "Counseling gives the students an opportunity to share their feelings with each other. In some instances, that may be more important than sharing their thoughts with counselors," he said.

There are cases in which people seeking counseling have absolutely no control over the circumstances or the situation, he said, referring to the recent mass murder in Killeen.

"Noticing signs and symptoms of potentially disruptive behavior and encouraging people who know a person has a serious problem to guide that person to seek help are important preventive measures," Waldman said.

Sam Cochran, director of clinical services at the University of Iowa counseling center, said several hundred people attended an open meeting to discuss the killings on their campus on the following Monday. He said counseling groups totalling several hundred students and faculty members were formed during the week.

"Initially, many of the students are stunned and dazed, " Cochran said, "Most are fearful."

"Many have expressed anger about the senselessness of what happened and are saddened at the tragic loss of talent and life," Cochran said.

He said faculty members and teaching assistants have expressed concern about how they should handle the topic in their classrooms.

"One thing that bothers me about some reactions to the killings is the emphasis being placed on the fact that the killer was a former graduate student and the pressures and stresses of graduate study," he said. "This is a case of cold-blooded, premeditated murder."

Cochran said there has been an outpouring of concern, love and support from the close-knit Iowa City community.

 

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AMBASSADORS GUIDE STUDENTS THROUGH UH MAZE

ORGANIZATION OFFERS HELP, INFORMATION FOR THOSE IN NEED

GROUP ALSO TAKES TO HIGH SCHOOLS TO PROMOTE UH

BY MELISSA NEELEY

NEWS REPORTER

Does the word "maze" ever enter your mind when trying to find your classes for the first time? The UH Ambassadors can help.

The UH Ambassadors are a group of students whose job is to assist new students in getting acquainted with the campus.

Ambassadors are required to give at least one tour a week, which can be scheduled at 10 a.m., noon, or 2 p.m. on every weekday, said Bernard J. Luger III, the group's historian.

"We tell you about all the buildings, what's in them, common services around the campus, and a wealth of information such as the crime rate around campus," Luger said. "For incoming freshmen, this is very important for them to know since they are worried about moving to a new place.

"We want to be honest and not cover up the fact that there is crime on campus, but also be positive and say that we have a great police department."

The Ambassadors' purpose is to promote a good image for the campus by recruiting high school students, giving UH a tours and hosting special programs, Luger said.

"Last Saturday, we had Cougar Preview, which we basically ran," Luger said. "The entire weekend went really well. I would estimate that we had around an even thousand students and their prospective families."

The Ambassadors were formed in 1982, as a group of seven students. Now, 60 students are in the program.

"There are 45 women and 15 men presently in the organization and 30 (new members) in the group were chosen last spring. Officers are responsible for choosing new members from the applications we receive," Luger said.

To qualify as a member, you must meet a 2.5 GPA requirement and submit two letters of recommendation from anyone not employed by the admissions office. At least one letter must be from someone in the UH community, Luger said.

"We also give tours during special times such as homecoming when alumni ask us," Ambassadors President Fairan Jones said.

"The most important quality of our Ambassadors is that they be personable," Jones said. In events such as College Night and Cougar Preview, these students with their parents are making a decision where they are going to school and we want to help them decide to come here."

The program was founded as a joint effort between the Office of Admissions and Campus Activities to service student liaisons, VIPs and activities like freshmen orientation, Luger said.

The voluntary organization is funded by the Office of Admissions, which sponsors the Ambassador's spring banquet and gives supplies needed to make posters for events like Cougar Preview, Luger said.

"I received a lot of help from everybody when I was here, and being an Ambassador gives me a chance to show how helpful and nice people can be at the university," Luger said.

 

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PROSECUTORS DROP RAPE CASE; STILL SAY GIRL WAS A VICTIM

EX-DEFENDANT SAYS ACT'S MORALITY NOT QUESTION AT HAND

CPS -- Although prosecutors in a gang-rape case withdrew criminal charges against two defendants on Oct. 8, they still say they believe the female student was a victim.

The charges of rape, indecent assault, indecent exposure, conspiracy and unlawful restraint stemmed from a 19-year-old Temple University student's claim that six men raped her at the off-campus Alpha Phi Delta house.

"Our investigation is complete, and we felt that we couldn't prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt," said assistant district attorney Dianne Granlund. She is also head of the office's Rape Unit.

Granlund said she could not disclose the information obtained during the investigation but did say that the two men arrested in connection with the rape, "are not angels. They took advantage of a young woman in the fraternity that night."

Temple University responded to the dismissal of charges against Michael Derita, 23, and Raymond Evers, 22, in a prepared statement.

"Whether or not the acts that took place in the Alpha Phi Delta fraternity house in the early morning of Sept. 12 were criminal, the sequence of activities does not belong in a civilized society," it read.

"Beyond what happened in the courtroom ... the events of the past month have served to raise greater awareness about acquaintance rape and the responsibility to treat one another with mutual respect."

The university has suspended the fraternity as a result of the rape charges. It upheld the suspension after the Oct. 8 dismissal hearing.

At that hearing, Derita, a Temple graduate who now sells real estate, told the media he was sorry for the negative effect the charges had on Temple and the fraternity.

He told the Associated Press, "Whether what we did was immoral was one thing. Whether what we did was illegal is another."

Granlund said the dropping of charges against Derita and Evers officially closes the investigation because of insufficient evidence.

 

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EX-SOUTH CAROLINA PRESIDENT ACCUSED OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT

CPS -- University of South Carolina administrators are asking faculty and former student interns for information about sexual harassment allegations against former president James Holderman.

South Carolina Gov. Carroll Campbell has also gotten involved and has asked the state solicitor to investigate claims that Holderman made sexual advances toward some male students.

The Charlotte Observer broke the story on Oct. 20, quoting three students who said Holderman asked them to go to bed with him. A fourth student told the newspaper Holderman put his hand on the student's buttocks.

Holderman stepped down as president of USC after he was accused of mishandling the university's money -- allegations which subsequently led to a criminal charge of tax evasion.

Holderman did not comment on the Observer's story, but his attorney said he denied the charges. On Oct. 22, Holderman checked into a Columbia hospital for treatment of depression and exhaustion.

Meanwhile, current USC President John Palms issued a statement regarding the current status of Holderman, who has been on tenured leave without pay. Palms said he planned to begin tenure revocation hearings against Holderman on Dec. 1.

"The alleged incidents as reported constitute very serious violations of the ethical standards expected in university life," he wrote.

The story also alleged Holderman spent university money on gifts of clothing and jewelry he gave to the student interns.

"The possible improper use of university finances and alleged attempts to intimidate students cannot be tolerated on any university campus," Palms said.

Palms has written letters to faculty and previous presidential interns asking for any information about Holderman's alleged improprieties.

 

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FURS TO LOOK TO WORLD OUTSIDE

BY SALLY POUNCY

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

In 1979, the Psychedelic Furs toured 40 cities in the U.S.

And their first performance left them all alone in the room they were playing -- the audience had walked out on them.

Today, the Furs have eight albums under their belt and are currently on an international tour for their latest album, World Outside.

Recently, the Furs moved to New York to get out of what bass player Tim Butler calls "boring England."

They moved to NY because of, "the creative energy," Butler said. "You can go anywhere and see four bands a night. It's great," he said, quoting the old cliche, "It's the city that never sleeps!"

But sleeping is the last thing this band has been doing for the past few years.

After coming off of what Butler refers to as a "big depression" with the Midnight to Midnight tour, the band went into the studio and recorded Book of Days in 1989. After a tour, they then returned to the studio and recorded World Outside.

"I think, like anything, you tend to get better and better at what you do. Our writing and the way we arrange songs has improved over the years and we have dumped the wrong directions we were going in on Midnight to Midnight," Butler said.

Midnight to Midnight was a bad time for the Furs.

"We didn't have a lineup we were happy with and we spent too much time in the studio on the record," Butler said. Too much time for Butler was six months, with only three original band members.

"Now we are back with a six-piece (band) that we are happy with. It makes it fun again. To have six people that keep contributing ideas is great," he said.

Since 1990, the Furs have had the same members, Butler said.

"It was pretty easy to get the band together. Knox was a friend of John's and Donny (Don Yallech) was a friend of my wife's. I had known him (Donny) for years. He just came into a rehearsal session when we were without a drummer and just clicked!" he said.

Butler credits the success of World Outside to producer Stephen Street.

"He helped us refind our path," he said. "We went back into the studio to have fun. We didn't want to have to think about, `Oh, the record company needs a single, or we need a club hit.' We just wanted to get back to the basics," Butler said.

The basics for the Furs were like when they began in 1979. The punk scene was ending and Butler attributes their success at the time to the fact people were getting tired of, "three-chord songs that went on for three minutes."

He thinks people picked up on the fact they would go on stage and jam for 15 minutes on one song.

"We started to attract big audiences in London and CBS records said, `If they can do this in London, then why not everywhere else,'" Butler said.

When CBS records approached the Furs, Butler said, "We were scared. We wanted to be extra good when they were there, especially since they were such a big company."

Being with a big company has been good for the Furs. Recently, they played at a benefit for PETA (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals), but Butler claims they do not look for causes to promote.

"We don't go out looking for them (causes), because we are not one of these bands that uses a cause for publicity. We won't go out and try to find them to promote our careers," he said.

In fact, promoting stuff is something they try and stay away from.

"We had Jack Daniels wanting to sponsor our Midnight to Midnight tour, but we would have had to have Jack Daniels posters splattered at our gigs, and that's not good. Especially when you think of drunk driving," Butler said. "I think that is the main reason we turned them down."

However, they did not turn down the chance to let director John Hughes use one of their songs, "Pretty in Pink," as the title track for one of his movies.

"Molly Ringwald was a big fan of the song and went to Hughes to ask him to write a movie vehicle for her around the song," said Butler. "Looking back it did us some good and some harm. It got us through to a new market, but some of our older fans thought we had sold out to the teen market."

When asked if he thought they would do it again, Butler said yes. But the one thing Butler said he would not do over is Midnight to Midnight.

"The whole tour was like a big depression; we went in the wrong direction and we were not happy," he said.

The thing he is most satisfied with in his career is World Outside and the fact the Psychedelic Furs have been around so long.

"We are still here; we have a good audience that has stuck with us, so we must have something that people want to hear."

 

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MAD DOGS SMOTHER GARDERE, HADNOT; AVENGE '90 DISASTER

BY JASON LUTHER

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

In Saturday's game against Texas, the Cougar defense made quarterback Peter Gardere and the Longhorn offense pay for spoiling their national championship hopes last season.

Houston's defense forced three fumbles, intercepted a pass, sacked the quarterback five times and broke up four passes.

The Cougars may have found their own version of the killer B's in Kevin Batiste, Eric Blount and James Bevil, as they accounted for 28 tackles and three turnovers.

Batiste, a freshman free safety, had eight tackles, a forced fumble and a crucial fourth quarter interception. Junior linebacker Blount had 10 tackles, two of which were behind the line, and a fumble recovery. Senior tackle Bevil had 10 tackles, with a forced fumble and a sack, costing the Longhorns 20 yards.

Sophomore linebacker Ryan McCoy also stood out with a team-leading 11 tackles, a forced fumble and a sack.

Blount said last year's embarrassment in Austin weighed bitterly on the Cougars' minds.

"They messed up our season last year and it's been like a knot in my side just to play Texas this year," Blount said. "I owed them one."

A key to the decline of the Texas offense this year has been the opposing defenses' ability to shut down running back Butch Hadnot.

As a freshman last year, Hadnot gained 150 yards and scored three touchdowns in Texas' 45-24 rout of Houston. Saturday, he failed to score and was virtually shut down with only 56 yards on the ground, averaging barely over three yards per carry.

However, McCoy said there was no special emphasis on stopping Hadnot.

"Everybody's pumping Butch Hadnot up and all that, but he's like an average back," McCoy said. "We just came in there and played like he was just another back."

With the Texas defense coming into the game ranked third in the nation, McCoy said the Cougar defense was prepared to work a little harder to give Houston's offense a chance.

"We knew the offense was going to have a hard time, so we knew we had to perform well," McCoy said. "Coming into the game, we knew it would be a defensive struggle."

The Houston defense made one of its biggest plays of the game in the first quarter as Tyrone Davis and Nigel Ventress combined on a sack that took Gardere out of the game until the third quarter.

The Cougar defense had its way with backup quarterbacks Jimmy Saxton and Chad Lucas for the remainder of the half, shutting the Longhorns out until late in the third quarter.

McCoy said he didn't think he would see Gardere back in the game.

"We put a couple of good shots on him, and I didn't think he was going to come back," McCoy said. "He's got a pretty good heart."

However, Gardere would need more than heart to overcome the Houston defense. With a breakdown of the Texas line, dropped passes and Hadnot's inability to make a big play, the Longhorn offense appeared helpless.

With Gardere back in the second half, the Horns managed their only touchdown of the game resulting from a Houston fumble. Texas was shut out in the fourth quarter.

Batiste's interception of a Gardere pass with 4:23 left set up the Cougars' final scoring drive.

Blount said Houston's determination and big plays were what made the difference.

"When the offense was having trouble, I was just telling the guys to suck it up and make something happen," Blount said. "That's exactly what we did."

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COOGS' DEFENSE BRINGS TEARS TO THE EYES OF TEXAS

LONGHORNS ARE UPSET 23-14

BY MIKE ROSEN

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

It wasn't pretty, and certainly not easy. But when free safety Kevin Batiste intercepted Peter Gardere with 3:59 remaining, it was the last stitch in sewing up a 23-14 Cougar victory.

Unlike UH-UT matchups of the past four seasons, Saturday's game was a defensive struggle. Houston's Mad-again Dogs drew first blood in the first quarter, when Eric Blount, Nigel Ventress and Tyrone Davis combined to sack Gardere, knocking his helmet from his head and him from the game until the second half.

The Cougars also struck first on the scoreboard, with a rare first-quarter touchdown pass.

After going three-and-out on their first possession, David Klingler threw a bullet down the right sideline to a streaking Marcus Grant making it to the Texas 31-yard line. Two plays later, Klingler took it himself around the right end, 22 yards before being forced out of bounds by UT cornerback Mark Berry.

Klingler hit TiAndre Sanders on the next play from two yards out, for a 6-0 Cougar lead.

Roman Anderson's streak of extra points came to an end on the scoring drive. The nation's leading career scorer had kicked 136 PATs prior to having this one blocked.

Texas drove downfield on its next two possessions, both resulting in field goals to tie the score at six.

Both drives, however, were moral victories for Houston's defense. The first entailed Gardere's first-half departure, and the second was only a three-yard Longhorn stumble, given to them courtesy of a Klingler fumble.

Meanwhile, Texas' defense stiffened and Houston's Run-and-Shoot began backfiring with sacks and penalties. The ensuing drive began on the UH 29, only to end with a snap over the head of Charlie Langston, who was set to punt from the back of his end zone. The safety put UT on top 8-6.

With 6:26 remaining in the half, Klingler and company took advantage of a Shane Childers' fumble inside the Texas 10-yard line, caused and recovered by Batiste.

Sanders carried it in from the eight on third down to give Houston a 13-8 halftime advantage.

The second half saw the return of both Gardere and running back Butch Hadnot, who had gone down earlier with a re-injured ankle.

After Texas recovered a Sanders fumble midway through the third quarter, Gardere directed his team on a 55-yard go-ahead touchdown drive. His 27-yard pass to Darrick Duke set up a one-yard run by Childers, giving Texas a 14-13 lead at the end of three.

The Cougar defense tightened its grip in the final stanza, giving the offense enough chances to finally come through.

Three of Texas' four fourth-quarter possessions resulted in a missed 47-yard field goal attempt and two turnovers. The first, a fumble forced by Ryan McCoy and recovered by Eric Blount, lead to a 15-play, 70-yard drive, which lead to Anderson's 32-yard game-winning field goal with 4:23 remaining.

The second turnover was Batiste's interception.

Houston took over at the Texas 35, where Klingler and Sanders began eating up yardage, as well as the game clock.

With :14 remaining, Klingler put the game out of reach 23-14 with a one-yard dive into paydirt.

 

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FOSTER'S TROOPS OFF TO FAST START

BY MIGUEL ZEPEDA

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

Out went the old and in came the new.

Houston basketball Head Coach Pat Foster unveiled his 1991-92 squad, which used a balanced scoring attack to defeat Eastern Melbourne 100-70 at Hofheinz Pavilion Sunday.

Playing in their first of two exhibition games, the new-look Cougars had five players score in double figures.

Senior point guard Derrick Daniels and forwards Jessie Drain and David Diaz each scored 14 points.

Senior Craig Upchurch, a pre-season first-team All-Southwest Conference selection, and juco-transfer Sam Mack added 13 each.

All this on a night when the Cougars were without the services of Derrick Smith, the team's third leading scorer last season.

Smith, a junior, was out with the flu.

Houston, picked to win the SWC regular season title, didn't need him.

With 11:12 remaining in the first half and holding a 17-16 advantage, Houston started a 30-15 scoring binge.

In the second half, the Cougars cruised to victory.

Houston made 16 of 25 shots from beyond the three-point boundary on its way to 49 percent shooting.

"When we swing the ball now, either side can hit it," Foster said, noting a difference between last season's squad and this year's.

Foster was particularly impressed with the play of Jessie Drain, a 6-foot-7 freshman from Saginaw, Mich.

"He's got a chance to be real good," Foster said.,"The more I see him, the more I like him."

Despite the lopsided victory, Foster didn't like everything he saw, such as his team's inability to protect the lane.

What could be Houston's main weakness this season was thoroughly exploited by the team from down under. This is where the Aussies did most of the damage, scoring 54 of their 70 points.

They manhandled the Cougars inside, taking advantage of their lack of size.

Houston no longer has a seven-foot presence in the form of Alvaro Teheran, who is now playing professionally in Spain.

Instead, UH relied on the play of athletic, but 6-foot-8, center Charles "Bo" Outlaw.

Houston was able to force 26 turnovers, but was guilty of 18 themselves.

"We weren't in high gear. We were about in second gear," Foster said.

"It looked alright for a nine or 10 man rotation. We have a chance to get a lot better, to build this into something."

Foster is hoping it will build into an SWC title.

 

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MOORES SAYS ATHLETICS DONATION WAS NO FUMBLE

GIFT INTENDED TO INCREASE COMMUNITY SUPPORT FOR UH

BARNETT DIDN'T SAY ATHLETICS WERE TOP NEED, SAYS MOORES

BY DEBBIE HOUSEL

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

In hopes of garnering future community support for UH, John and Rebecca Moores decided to give almost half of their $51.4 million gift to the athletic department -- but this gift is only the beginning.

"I have made it clear that my first priority is not athletics, but I thought this gift would be the first to bear fruit. Our intention is that this gift be viewed as a start," Moores said.

The Moores' recent gift of $51.4 million sparked a campus controversy after John Moores was quoted in The Houston Post as saying UH President Marguerite Ross Barnett slated the Athletics Department as the neediest on campus.

Moores said the idea to give $25 million to the athletic facility was "100 percent mine."

"I'm absolutely convinced that in my lifetime, the possibility of athletics getting money was close to zero. It's a stark, utter reality that no one gets to vote for, but the alumni and the community's support hinge on the performance of intercollegiate athletics," he said.

Moores said he thinks once UH establishes a successful athletic program, the community will be more inclined to offer support to the whole university.

"It represented the best investment in the university that is on behalf of the university as a whole," Moores said.

Moores said he asked Barnett during halftime at the Miami game on Sept. 12 what area in the athletic department needed help to strengthen the program.

"She told me that the greatest need for the athletic department was a facility, and when I asked her how much, she said about $2.5 million," Moores said.

Moores said he contacted Athletic Director Rudy Davalos and spent some time with Davalos and UH football Coach John Jenkins, looking over their plans and touring athletic facilities.

"As I walked through the facilities, I found that $2.5 million would not be enough for what I believe needed to be done," Moores said.

He said he discussed with them the the possibility of a $2.5 million donation, which soon went up to $5 million and then $10 million. After visiting other athletic facilities, Moores concluded that the athletic department needed $25 million for a new training facility.

When he told Barnett about his decision, Moores said, "My guess is that she was appalled and a little thunderstruck that we were giving $25 million."

Barnett said when he told her of his plans to give a $25 million endowment to build athletic facilities, she suggested that amount of money could be spread among other priorities.

"I had a long discussion with him. I said, `Let me tell you about the priorities for the campus and what that $25 million could do,'" Barnett said.

Barnett said she told Moores that if all the money was given to the library, it could restore the facility to its former standing. M.D. Anderson Library is currently ranked 104th in American Research Libraries. In 1983, the library was ranked 50th.

The Moores did give $1 million of the $51.4 million gift to the library.

Barnett said she pointed out other needy areas, including graduate fellows, UH Texas Center for Superconductivity, undergraduate education and funds for faculty.

Concerning the allegations that she dictated how gift funds were allocated, Barnett said, "It's very flattering for people to think I could ask donors to give and they would follow my suggestions." The only time Barnett said she mentioned the athletic department was when they were at the Miami game, when she responded to Moores' question.

"Once he started traveling around the country, he wanted the athletic department to have a state-of-the-art facility. You don't become the head of a major software company without having a strong mind. The Moores love this university and it is a wonderful gift," Barnett said.

UH System Chancellor Alexander Schilt said UH officials have been trying to raise money for the athletic facility for a long time.

"It is an initiative that had begun prior to the time I became the chancellor," Schilt said.

The UH System is striving to raise at least $350 million in its ongoing Creative Partnership Campaign. Schilt said it's difficult to convince donors to give to existing problems on campus.

"This is a donor-driven campaign. We try to educate the donors on the highest priorities but it doesn't mean they will fall in love with a project. They want to make the choice," Schilt said.

Donors, he said, are less inclined to give money to the infrastructure such as leaky roofs and faculty salaries because they are already paying tax dollars that go to public higher education, and they perceive maintenance as the state's obligation.

"People believe in the case of maintenance, `I don't want to help with stuff the state is suppose to do,'" Schilt said.

Schilt said the proven and conventional wisdom is that donors do not give money to ongoing maintenance problems.

"We could try but there are not examples of success given, although we have clearly pointed out our plight with problems of deferred maintenance and faculty salaries," Schilt said.

So, Schilt said, they try to target donors to help with things the state can't, like the athletic facility and building up the endowment.

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