1984: USTTA State of Affairs.
I began my last volume by saying that 1983 was “a time of upheaval in our Association unparalleled since the 1930’s.” Radical change was the order of the day, week, month, year. As a way of bringing new (and old) readers up to date on the specific disturbing incidents—the repercussions of which continue through 1984 as well—I’m going to start with pertinent excerpts from Bill Hodge’s long article “What Every USTTA Member Should Know” (Timmy’s, Feb.-Mar., 1984, 2; 4). As an E.C. member at both public and private meetings, Bill was privy to, and has detailed for us, information that no one else has publicly put forward, or rebutted. This doesn’t mean that you have to take as gospel everything he subjectively says, but you have to believe that I think he wants to tell the truth, and that I think on the whole he’s done a good job of it.
As I’ve done in past volumes, when I feel as Historian I’ve a point of view that I upfront want to interpolate into a context—Hodge’s or anyone else’s—I’ve no qualms about doing that; indeed, as the Controlling Intelligence behind these volumes, I feel it’s my job to do it.
Here’s much of what Bill wrote to the USTTA members:
“…I arrived at the Las Vegas Tropicana Hotel the evening of Dec. 11, 1983, and heard that the USTTA E.C. was having a meeting in President Sol Schiff’s room. I called Sol and he said the meeting was almost over and he would see me soon regarding my being named V.P. since I had gotten the most votes of the losing candidates for V.P. in last year’s election.
I later found out that the topic of discussion had been Executive Director Bill Haid’s contract and job. Evidently Sol Schiff was unhappy with Haid’s performance the past three years, and they were now discussing whether to fire him, and who his replacement might be. It should be pointed out that Haid’s contract has NEVER been signed! He has a contract, but Sol never signed it—therefore Haid never had any protection, and could be let go at a moment’s notice. It was decided at this meeting that within two days Sol would tell Haid that the E.C. was dissatisfied with his performance, and was looking at Bob Tretheway, the National Coaching Chairman, as a possible replacement. It should be further pointed out that Haid was never officially notified during the next week [the Tropicana U.S. Closed ran from Dec. 16-19] of the above actions. Finally, Monday morning, Dec. 20, 1983, Sol told Haid he must raise $30,000 by June 1, 1984 or he would have no 1984/1985 contract. Schiff stated the USTTA was approximately $30,000 in debt, so Haid must raise the money or be fired.
That Monday morning, the Winter E.C. Meeting begins. Item 4 of the Agenda is Filling of Vacancies. Schiff names Jimmy McClure to replace Pat O’Neill who had resigned. This was voted on and approved, so McClure was a new V.P. (The U.S. Closed Program had already listed him as V.P.) Next Sol nominates me to replace Stan Robens who had resigned. The E.C. requested that I leave the room while they had a discussion. It turned out they were discussing their fear that I would only serve out Robens’s term to May 31, 1984 and then not run again. [This E.C. really, really wanted Bill on their Board and hoped in the coming election he’d be elected? Schiff in his Campaign Statement will say, “For Vice-President I would recommend either D.J. Lee or Bill Hodge, and then hope for the best”—not exactly a ringing endorsement.] I assured them that I intended on running, so I was voted in as a V.P. and I immediately went to work.
[Hodge decides that in his presentation here it’s best to go back to the June, 1981 E.C. meeting and with pertinent comments on E.C. meetings thereafter work up to the Dec., 1983 meeting he attended.]
June, 1981: …Disciplinary Report criticized by E.C. Schiff promised to seek more details, but according to the next Minutes he did not. [What was the nature of this Disciplinary Report? Why did the E.C. criticize it? As we’ve subsequently seen, Schiff and Disciplinary Reports may not be in sync. Note particularly the Schiff/Rufford Harrison vs. Scott Boggan/Tim Boggan firestorm (Vol. XII, 414-422].
ITTF passed a rule that ITTF Officers may not be in the Equipment Business. [That goes for USTTA officers too?] Since that time several E.C. members have been in the Equipment business. Most notable are D.J. Lee and Sol Schiff. Sol states that he has given up his business, yet he has been, and is currently, listed in SPIN in the Equipment section under “Mr. Table Tennis” with his address and phone number.
TV: No report. No appointment. I would think that TV would be our best potential for making big money, and making the public aware of our sport….
Haid proposed that 184.108.40.206 be deleted. This read: ‘All contracts approved by the E.C. will be printed in the National Publication.’ Why delete it? [Because it’s not practical to use space in the magazine for contract after contract which reader after reader won’t read?]…This delete proposal was passed….
C.F. Liu proposed that all contracts be sent to the E.C. prior to signing. This was an approved Bylaw change and is now (Dec., 1983) supposed to be in effect, but is not being done, and Sol Schiff is controlling the contracts, and all of the E.C. members are not seeing them. In some cases, none of them are….Cases in point are Bill Haid’s contract, along with the Dorset Gant/Bill Addison Video East fiasco; the Perry County Cheese [Pizza] contract; the U.S. Open and Closed contracts with the Tropicana Hotel; Tom Wintrich’s SPIN contract; the Melia Travel contract; Sportcase Productions contract; USOC contract; Robbins’ Uniforms contract; Tamasu/Henan Li Ai contract; and the Manufacturers contract are a few [sic: huh? there are many more?]. Personally I would LOVE to see all of the above—but all I have seen is Haid’s unsigned one.
Executive Director’s contract amended by 10% raise, plus insurance is paid for, and there’s a bonus.
Lyle Thiem appointed Treasurer.
Disciplinary Report. Schiff reported he had not sought details missing from Committee Report. [What’s the nature of this Report? Why is Schiff not following up? The devil’s in the details?]…
Schiff reported that the Executive Director contract had been signed. [By who?]
Executive Action: TV contract signed with Sportcast Productions by Schiff and Gus Kennedy after Harrison refused to sign. [Why didn’t Harrison want to sign?] Contract subsequently cancelled by Sportcast. [Why?] Thus no TV of 1981 U.S. Closed.
Harrison questioned how allocation of Olympic funds had been decided. Schiff stated that since USTTA allocation increased after meeting at Baden-Baden, there wasn’t adequate time to submit the matter to the E.C. and he had it handled by a USTTA Delegate. [Who handled this “matter” and how?] Schiff noted that too much reliance is placed on USOTC funding.
Schiff believes that Equipment Approval fees are inadequate ($20,000 a year)….
July, 1982: Auditor drew attention to balance of $1,900 compared with $41,700 in 1980….
The Executive Director’s contract was revised and accepted, and was to be put in final form by Bowie Martin and Haid.
Dec., 1982: Schiff says long-time Disciplinary Chair Dr. Michael Scott is out and Wendell Dillon is in. [This abrupt change after many years is the result of a stand-off, not-gonna-discipline-either-one decision Dr. Scott made when Rufford Harrison took Scott Boggan for embarrassingly poor judgment as a U.S. Team member to the Disciplinary Committee, and Tim Boggan, armed with 18 single-spaced pages of rebuttal and accusations, took Schiff-surrogate Harrison for ethical violations of his office to the Disciplinary Committee (Vol. XII, 414-422)….]
Regarding a revision of the Executive Director’s contract: Martin signed and now Schiff has. [Whoa. Hodge said in the second paragraph of his opening above that as of mid-Dec., 1983 Schiff NEVER signed this Haid contract. Does he say here that Schiff merely has a copy of the contract—has [it?—the “it” left out]. Or does he say that Schiff too has said he’s signed the contract but really hasn’t?]
…Robens, Haid, and Kennedy engage in fund-raising problems. Robens quits, then returns….
Disciplinary Committee matters involving Scott Boggan and also Martin Doss deferred.
Large file’s accumulated regarding Coaching Committee and Wang Fuzheng, the $15,000 Chinese Coach [who visited various USTTA clubs and with help (since he himself did not speak English) conducted coaching clinics] ….
Schiff proposes Bylaw change to delete 220.127.116.11 which calls for Executive V.P. [Gus Kennedy was currently in office] to succeed to Presidency in case of vacancy. Instead, Schiff wants the E.C. by majority vote to appoint one of its members [Sol has someone in mind?]. Defeated.
Replace Carr as Nominating Chairman? Schiff deferred.
Regarding the June 1, 1982 Budget: USTTA lost $4,000. Income $151,000. Outgo $155,000. USTTA has $69,000 in Bank.
For the 1982 U.S. Closed, Schiff approved Rey Domingo eligible to play, although Rey didn’t fulfill the Green Card requirements. Schiff stated it was an “Emergency Decision.” Now, after discussion, Schiff tells Andy Gad to call Domingo and tell him he can’t play in the tournament.
This brought up B.K. Arunkumar’s eligibility, so he can’t play either, so Haid must call him. Haid returns and says Arunkumar stated that Schiff told him he could play. Sol denied this. Said he would take the recommendation of the committee—which said Arunkumar was ineligible.
This brought up the eligibility of Mr. Kim’s Korean team from L.A. Sol told Haid to call Kim regarding his players’ eligibility. Mr. Kim tells Haid that Sol Schiff said his players could play. Schiff denies it. Mr. Kim is very, very upset with Schiff and the USTTA. [These denials remind me of how Mike Bush said he was told by Schiff that he and Scott Boggan would be able to play in the May, 1981 Swiss Open and when they got all the way there, the Swiss said they had no idea they were coming and, no, they weren’t welcome (Vol. XI, 13-14).]
Pat O’Neill says E. C. members should appoint and fire the Committee Chairmen who report to them, instead of it all being done by Schiff.
Bill Addison on TV coverage at the 1982 U.S. Closed: he’ll tape a show and ESPN will broadcast it in Feb., 1983. There’ll be six ad spots per 30 minutes of TV….The USTTA is to spend approximately $25,000 and get $30,000 in return. Instead, USTTA loses its money, then is sued by Addison for $9,000—of which $3,000 has been paid. [Triple T Enterprises, with whom the USTTA was doing business, consisted of independent contractor/promoter Dorsett Gant and TV producer Bill Addison.]
Bowie Martin is resigning. Stan Robens is resigning. And Dr. Liu may not run for re-election…. Schiff wants Danny Robbins to replace Larry Thoman as Coaching Chair, but Pat O’Neill says Robbins can’t do the job. Liu is down on Schiff—says Thoman has been mistreated. [As we’ve seen (Vol. XII, 232-238), Larry himself is very unhappy with Haid who’d had him removed from his Coaching Chair (so that Bob Tretheway could come to Colorado Springs to replace him). Larry’s also so distraught with Schiff over the lies Sol has publicly told about him that he’s quitting the Sport and won’t come back unless Schiff loses the upcoming Presidential election to Boggan.]…
June, 1983: O’Neill [who was chairing a committee to re-organize the USTTA E.C.] had no proposals for restructuring since no E.C. member had replied to the questions in his Planning Guide. [He’ll be resigning.]
Haid reports he had not circulated copies of his Contract to the E.C. since he had never received a signed copy [so I presume Schiff had NOT signed such a contract—though why not?].
Haid reported that he had changed officials at the National Sports Festival as follows: Communications—Tom Wintrich (instead of Boggan who’d not been officially informed of the change) and Dennis Masters (instead of Danny Robbins who’d not been officially informed of the change). [Boggan had come to this Summer E.C. meeting uninvited and very angry at the way he’d been fired without so much as a word or scrap of paper after 13 years of service as Editor of Topics –“Never in my life have I been treated so badly!” he said. “How you must hate or fear me!” [XII, 208-225]. Tim was so disgusted, so mad that he was to start his own tabloid, Timmy’s, in opposition to SPIN, the new name of the Tom Wintrich-edited USTTA newspaper. Then, when Schiff began lying in print that Boggan had fired himself because he’d gotten angry, he wrote a public rebuttal and resolved to try to wrest the Presidency, now so corrupt, away from Schiff.]
Schiff [in a fait accompli] had authorized the move of Wintrich from Albuquerque to Colorado Springs at a cost of $1,400 out of the Headquarters account, and Schiff also approved payment of $1,000 per month to Wintrich. Tom stated he would spend about 60% of his time on SPIN and 40% on duties at Headquarters. Six months later, he would amend the figures to 90%/10%. Schiff’s Executive action regarding Wintrich had not been reported either to the Treasurer or to a number of other E.C. members.
[At the June, 1983 E.C. meeting when Boggan, upset, first arrived, there was no dissent from the fait accompli Schiff, given the support and encouragement of Bill Haid and Pat O’Neill, had engineered. But the next day…] Results of Secret Ballot proposed by Mel Eisner was Wintrich 4 and Boggan 3. Boggan out, Wintrich in.
…Kennedy instructed to inform old Coaching Chair Larry Thoman and new Coaching Chair Bob Tretheway of the change. [Kennedy’s letter went unforwarded to an old Thoman address and, though it was said Tretheway had informed Thoman, the delay in receiving official word that he’d been replaced further disturbed Larry.]
Jack Carr offered to resign his pro-tem Nominating Chair as of Jan. 1, 1984. As a replacement for Carr, Schiff names Mal Anderson—[though even into the March, 1984 issue of SPIN, the USTTA Register continues to list Carr as the Nominating Chair].
It was agreed that Alice Green be excused from attendance at the Pan Am Camp because of a work commitment. This was the beginning of the USTTA’s problems with the USOC regarding RULES, GRIEVANCE, and SELECTION METHOD. It precipitated a Kasia Dawidowicz Gaca Grievance, and a Green threat of suit against the USTTA if she is removed from the U.S.Team.
Dec., 1983: [This brings Hodge’s summary back to where he started—the Dec., 1983 E.C. Meeting in Las Vegas.]…I repeatedly asked Schiff what the Gaca Grievance was, and three times was put off. This item was deferred….[Schiff, in matters large and small, is repeatedly showing a pattern of evasion and inaction.]
[Hodge later explains:] The Gaca complaint involves her right to compete on the 1983 U.S. Pan Am Team and an alleged denial by USTTA of her right to participate on that Team. There are two things that are readily apparent. 1. The USTTA had filed with the USOC a Team Selection method which was approved. It stated training sessions would be mandatory and all members were required to participate in both camps. Two athletes, Alice Green and Sheila O’Dougherty (who was named to the USOC Athlete Advisory Board by the EC), did not abide by the rules established for participation in the training camps. Alice Green was excused from one camp and Sheila missed parts of both camps. Kasia Gaca attended both camps as the #1 Alternate. In spite of the established rules, Alice and Sheila remain Pan Am members and Gaca has been denied the right to participate on the Team.
2. When Mrs. Gaca attempted to file a grievance, it was determined that the USTTA has no rules or procedures available to an athlete to file a complaint. There also is no rule providing the prompt and equitable resolution of grievances by the USTTA. Additionally, I have a question as to whether athletes are appropriately represented in all phases of USTTA activities as is required by the Amateur Sports Act of 1978 and USOC Constitution and Bylaws. [Hodge will end this summary with USOC Executive Director F. Don Miller’s angry letters to Schiff who’d been ignoring his requests that an Internal Grievance Procedure be put into our Bylaws. Bill will soon elaborate on those Miller letters and Schiff’s reluctance to respond to them . At the moment he warns:] WE ARE IN SERIOUS JEOPARDY OF LOSING USOC FUNDING, FACILITIES, AND NAME ASSOCIATION….
[Hodge continues with other items of interest at that Dec., 1983 Meeting:]
The 1984 U.S. Open and U.S. Closed contracts (including proposed sites and dates) that were expected to be signed at this meeting by Schiff were not signed….
Haid reports that the USTTA has 6,291 members—including Universities, Businesses SPIN only, etc. There are 3, 944 paid members. The Budget for Headquarters is $68,000….
Pat O’Neill and USTTA Legal Advisor Rex Burlisson commented on Addison’s suit against the USTTA for $9,000—$3,000 of which had been paid. There would be no action against Addison, as it would be hard to collect since he was broke. [If we think we ought to get money from TV man Addison, why did we pay him $3,000, and do we intend to pay him $6,000 more?] Burlisson said [with regard to the TV debacle] we were not covered by insurance. He also said he would attempt to get our 32 Video tapes back from Gant, who is selling them on the open market. [Later, a Minutes entry says, “Settlement achieved with Dorsett Gant.” What specifically was that?]…
…I was responsible for, and deserve credit for, getting the $48,900 into the Budget for the ATHLETES, and not for HEADQUARTERS, or other USTTA expenses. [To do this Bill had somehow to have the Budget balanced:] …Everyone said it was absolutely impossible to balance the Budget. It was six months past due, and now the USOC money was mostly being used for USTTA items such as Headquarters, U.S. Open and Closed, National Publication, etc….I attempted to explain to the E.C. members how we could do it. They said it was impossible. I insisted it could be done, so they told me to leave the room, work on it by myself in silence and see what I could do. I went to Dick Evans’s room, worked on it for 90 minutes, and returned to the E.C. meeting with a balanced budget and now with the $48,900 all for the athletes….In the February, 1984 issue of SPIN, Rufford Harrison states, “We really do have a budget…and it was only through the efforts of the newest member of the E.C. that we were able to balance it, six months into the fiscal year. It was Bill Hodge who did it. He deserves your vote in this election….”
Regarding the new Tournament Operations Committee—who’ll be the Chair? Evans declined.…I repeatedly stated I wanted the Chair, but Schiff kept putting me off saying that Dan Simon and Dennis Masters were Co-Chairing the U.S. Closed and he was considering them for the Committee. [They would later be appointed.] Sol finally promised we would vote on the Chair Sunday night. After the tournament Sunday night I asked him about the vote, and he wouldn’t discuss it….
Regarding signature(s) on USTTA checks: I believe the Treasurer signs with one other person. Who?...
A new Bylaw has to do with a Code of Conduct. I never saw a copy of it, or heard of a vote….
The USTTA will deduct 15% of money awards to Amateurs, but will give back 5-10% in travel allowance….
A contract was signed with Tamasu. He had a chance to equal any other show of interest and offered 20% more than he did last year. Wasn’t there a contract with Robbins regarding U.S. Team uniforms?...
It was agreed, at a meeting in Sol’s room on Dec. 15, that Dick and Sue Butler’s Junior Development Group will be a Committee of USTTA, not a separate organization….During this meeting Schiff said publicly he had decided not to run for President….
Added to Minutes by Harrison—Length of term of office of EC members. When this was brought up, Schiff said, “I think we should run for 10 terms.” [Were he to win the upcoming election, and serve out another term, that would make him the USTTA President for 10 straight years.] Everyone laughed and he said, “I’m serious, go ahead and put it in the Minutes.” We then went on to other topics.
….The Most Important Topic of this Article follows:
On Aug. 2, 1983, the Executive Director of the USOC, Col. F. Don Miller, wrote Sol Schiff a very important letter with a request that it be answered promptly, but no later than Sept. 1, 1983….Since this letter went unanswered, on Nov. 1, 1983 Col. Miller wrote Schiff another letter that said:
I have noted with some concern that you have not responded to my 8/2/83letter in which I listed four areas of concern. Those are as follows:
1. The Application by USTTA of Pan Am or Olympic team selection procedures to the actual selection of the team members.
2. The right of fair notice and hearing procedures being provided an athlete by USTTA before ruling on the athlete’s eligibility to compete in Pan Am or Olympic competition.
3. The provisions of the USTTA Constitution for procedures for prompt and equitable resolution of grievances filed by an athlete.
4. The degree of athlete representation in the USTTA in accordance with the Amateur Sports Act of 1978, and US Olympic Comm. Constitution.
I am gravely distressed that the USTTA has not responded to the inquiries which I have made. This is one of the most serious issues that the USOC may raise with one of its Members. Your lack of response with regard to my previous inquiry appears to show a disregard for the importance of the issues raised. If I do not receive a prompt response to this letter and that of 8/2/83, I shall be forced to pursue other avenues with regard to these most important issues. With all best wishes, I remain,
F. Don Miller’
On Nov. 4, 1983, Bill Haid sent to the USOTC an informal Grievance Procedure for inclusion into the USTTA Bylaws as requested by Col. Miller.
On Nov. 27, 1983 [or Nov. 17, 1983?], Haid sent a letter to Schiff reminding him he had not responded to Col. Miller’s letters, and that Miller’s [last] letter is ‘probably more serious than you may realize. Failure to acknowledge Col. Miller’s request on time may be taken as an admission of the USTTA not wishing to comply with the rules. This could seriously jeopardize the license of the USTTA with the USOC. Also in jeopardy could be the $48,900 allocation of money. To be considered in replying to Col. Miller is the fact that we are making a concentrated effort to put the Grievance Bylaws into our Constitution, to have an athlete on our Board of Directors, and to clarify the Pan Am selection procedure.’
Jan.-Feb., 1984: after the Dec., 1983 Meeting, on Jan. 10, 1984, Haid sent a letter to the E.C. stating, ‘The extreme delay in answering Col. Miller’s request has put the USTTA into a perilous position.’ This letter went on to outline again what must be done, and also the consequences the USOC might put on our Sport.
The importance of the four points Col. Miller raises is obvious. But more important is how Sol Schiff has ignored a man of Col. Miller’s importance. The USOC is VITAL—is CRITICAL to our Budget, our growth, and to our credibility. This situation must be dealt with before it is too late—or is it already too late?
…Paul Therrio, who used to be the USTTA Treasurer and lived in Colorado Springs while he was the Olympic delegate, has confirmed with his friends in high places at the USOC that the USTTA is in deep trouble with the USOC.
I’d also heard that Sol Schiff told Col. Miller off [in a mailed note? over the phone? not to Col. Miller himself, but to another person—Haid? in a harangue just to self?) after the Nov. 17, 1983 [or Nov. 27, 1983?] letter Bill had written. Schiff has been quoted as saying we don’t need Olympic money.
In Jan., 1984, Schiff told Harrison to write to Col. Miller.
In Feb., 1984, a letter was finally sent to Col. Miller with Schiff’s signature saying the USTTA would have a mail vote regarding the four important subjects in Col. Miller’s letter.”
Here is Recording Secretary Rufford Harrison’s summary of the Dec., 1983 E.C. Minutes (SPIN, March, 1984, 11):
After two recent resignations, the E.C. was brought back up to strength at this meeting. Jimmy McClure replaced Pat O’Neill and Bill Hodge replaced Stan Robens.
A great deal of time was spent at this meeting on financial matters, notably the great expense associated with Headquarters operations, and the legal matters arising from the 1982 U.S. Closed Championships. Headquarters operations were to be discussed further after the meeting proper, and therefore do not appear in detail in the Minutes. Legal matters were also to be pursued further, in the hope of recouping some of the funds already paid out on debts incurred by our television chairman. The budget was finally balanced, however.
[Readers, continue learning things about your Association.]
Several tournament matters were discussed, including a simplification of the playing permit procedure. Permits will now cost $5.00 each, an increase, but there is no limit to the number that may be purchased before a player must join the USTTA. This reduces the need for record keeping. It will be noted that juniors should never purchase a permit, since a junior membership without the national publication is only $3.00.
In the absence of other suitable sites it was agreed to hold the 1984 U.S. Open and U.S. Closed at the Vegas Tropicana. [Don Gunn voices reservations about the Tropicana’s 50 tables that entries have played on and will play on again this year. He says: “Frankly, fellas, they need work. Somewhere during use, storage, or moving, many have lost their rubber feet, and some have surface gouges. With sufficient inducement, almost anyone could put all the feet on with some semblance of permanence, if replacements can be obtained by Tamasu. As for the gouges…?”] Hospitality for foreign teams cannot be provided, other than rooms for the Canadian and U.S. teams.
The dates of the U.S. Open are in conflict with those of the table tennis competition of the Wheel Chair Olympics in Champaign, IL. Officials for the latter event might be more difficult to find than those for our Open. Anyone interested should contact Mike LoRusso. (See USTTA Register, page 3.)
Cancellation of tournaments at the last minute have proved a great burden on the Tournament Committee and the Ratings Chairman. It was agreed to levy a moderate assessment for such occurrences.
Another source of problems has been the continuing differences between the Canadian and U.S. rating systems, which has caused inequities in the classification of players in tournaments. The American and Canadian ratings chairmen will meet to resolve this problem.
The possibilities of clinics for tournament officials at the U.S. Olympic Training Center was discussed and it was agreed to arrange at least one.
It was also agreed to form within the USTTA a Players’ Committee similar to the USOC’s Athletes’ Advisory Committee. [I’ve no record of such a Players’ Committee ever having been formed.]
Anyone who needs to see the complete Minutes may do so at their local affiliated club [on this or that wall, or in a control-desk drawer or wastebasket—locations vary, act quickly], or if a personal copy is desired, mail a stamped self-addressed envelope to Headquarters….”
Actually, Rufford is saving some Minutes substance for his own rhetorical purposes—to support his candidacy for Recording Secretary in the upcoming election. His aim in his Campaign Statement (SPIN, Feb., 1984, 19) is to distance himself from the E.C. body, and champion himself as the “financial watchdog” of the Association:
“Yes, I’m running for office again, but unfortunately not for the right reasons. I’d like to be able to say that I was so enraptured by this lively, innovative, forward-moving, well-managed organization that I wanted to be a continuing part of it. The problem is that we are not lively or innovative; we haven’t moved far forward since that last major step of getting into the USOC; and we are certainly not well-managed. [So who’s to blame for that? The President? You? Certain others? The buck stops where? Who’s held accountable?] It is on that last point that I feel most strongly. The E.C. is completely irresponsible fiscally. [And why’s that?] I want to stay on it to make sure that there is at least one voice interested in protecting the membership’s investment. [You mean in addition to Bill Hodge’s?] Let me illustrate:
For the U.S. Closed in 1982 we worked with a TV promoter and struck a deal with quite low chances of success; it cost us money. [Who’s “we”? Who’s to blame for this poor judgment?] Until the 1983 summer meeting, all that the E.C. heard was vague, yet by that time we were already paying out more than a thousand dollars a month to settle the debts that our unethical promoter had incurred on our behalf. No one thought it important enough to tell the EC about this.[Who should have told the EC about this? Meanwhile, the President, the Treasurer, You, the other E.C. members were just blind to these accumulated debts, this monthly outlay?] We have recently negotiated a $9,000 settlement.
Another example: With all respects to Tom Wintrich, who undoubtedly did not know the entire situation [Undoubtedly? WHAT did Tom, moving to Colorado Springs, not know?]. He was moved from Pittsburgh [Albuquerque?] to Colorado Springs and was paid $1,000 per month—for what? The EC couldn’t possibly know, since not even the Treasurer had been told. [Well, who the hell knew? Schiff? O’Neill? Haid? Who thought up this move? Who authorized this expenditure? Are you defending it? Are you attacking it? The buck of responsibility stops where?] We all—well, not quite all, since one of us had obviously consummated the deal [and who do you think that was?]—found out about it during the summer meeting, after Tom had been at Headquarters for a month.
Then we conducted the entire summer meeting without the benefit of a budget. [Is line after line of this Campaign Statement a confession?] Can’t have a budget, says the Treasurer, if we don’t yet know how much each committee wants for the coming year. Yet we spent two days blithely passing legislation involving thousands of dollars, some of which we undoubtedly did not have. I submit that, if a committee chair does not submit his own proposed budget, we should either replace him or else tell him what he may spend. [Most people would say that, yes.] Some time after the meeting we did receive an approved budget, but it showed a deficit that, after two years in the red, is a luxury that we cannot afford. [Most people would say that, yes.]
It would be helpful to compare that budget with the Treasurer’s report, but that was virtually impossible since the line items of each did not match. You should already know about that, of course, since both documents should have been printed in the national magazine. Alas, contrary to the Bylaws, they were not. [Alas, why in the world are you writing all this, Rufford? This admission of ineffectualness is calculated to get you ELECTED?] After all that, perhaps you will not be surprised to read that, until recently, the EC was not receiving succinct, periodic statements of our financial status, comparing it with the budget. I had to request this several times over a year and a half. [But nobody paid any attention to you. Why was that? Who should have replied to your requests?] Raising money is difficult, but finding out about money is almost impossible in this Association. [So what you need is: not Schiff but a new President? A new Treasurer? Need to replace E.C. members, including you?]
We finally do have a budget, by the way, and it was only through the efforts of the newest member of the EC that we were able to balance it, six months into the fiscal year. It was Bill Hodge who did it. He deserves your vote in this election.
I suppose I should talk, if briefly, about the office I’m running for, Secretary. Most of you can’t tell how I perform [well, you’ve certainly been doing your best to tell us], since you don’t see the Minutes I produce [we saw the ones above], or the agenda, or all the follow-up papers. Some of you do, and you know that the Minutes are complete and timely, and that the follow-up is prompt. [You mean from seeing those few paragraphs above about the Dec. meeting that appeared in the Mar. issue of SPIN?] It isn’t quite as easy as it used to be for EC members to default on promised action.
But that isn’t why you should vote for me. You need someone on the E.C. who has realized how precarious our position is, and who will serve as a watchdog to ensure that we don’t approach any closer to bankruptcy. [Suddenly an epiphany, in the darkness an alert bark!]
One final point: There are those who think that our state of near-anarchy is due to Sol Schiff. [Who could think that?] It isn’t. Sol is as concerned about these problems as I am. [You’re certainly political bedfellows—there’s no doubt about that.] If you are looking for perfection [no, just a caring competence], I suggest you try another sport. You won’t find perfection in any of us, and certainly not in Sol’s opponent. Unless you want your Association to be even less less-governed than it is now, I strongly urge you to vote for Sol Schiff. ”
Jack Carr (Timmy’s, Jan., 1984, 14) says that, like Boggan and Thoman, he’s angry too, and wants you to vote for Tim Boggan in the upcoming election, not Sol Schiff. He writes:
“Even though I resigned many months ago, until recently I was the Nominating Committee Chairman. [Resigned? If you functioned as the Nominating Chair, weren’t you the Chair?] I continued to serve until a relief [Mal Anderson] was finally found. Because of that [because Carr was himself on the Nominating Committee and didn’t resign soon enough] the E.C.—Sol Schiff and Rufford Harrison particularly—would not accept the Nominating Committee’s proposal of me as Executive Vice-President.” [Jack says the lie that he as Nominating Chair had voted for himself influenced other E.C. members to vote against him.]…
I can understand Sol Schiff and Rufford Harrison’s animosity and desire to strike back at me when the Nominating Committee did not approve either of them as candidates for the upcoming election….According to the E.C. it was alright for the previous Nominating Committee Chair Barry Margolius to serve on the E.C. during the time he was Nominating Committee Chair. Now all of a sudden the E.C. says I’m not qualified. [To have what appear to be rival committees decide, on the one hand, that Schiff and Harrison can’t run, and on the other, that Carr can’t, when all three have served the USTTA for decades, seems to me unjust. We’re not talking about voting for them, we’re talking about letting them run for office then objecting to or supporting them. Is the Nominating Committee—are its members the same as last year’s: Dave Cox, Dick Feuerstein, Bill Haid, and Dr. Michael Scott?—too severely limited in its choices?]…
I am informed that at the [Dec., 1983] E.C. meeting Sol Schiff was added as a candidate for President to run unopposed. Gus Kennedy was approved for Executive Vice-President to run unopposed, after I was refused Also, the E.C. replaced Bob Partridge with Rufford Harrison. [Of course, several others vying for office were accepted, so at voting time no one was running unopposed.]…
In my opinion and that of some other recent E.C. members and committee chairmen, at this time Sol Schiff has outserved his usefulness. This is unfortunate when I recall the fine job Sol did during his first term in office. Four to six years ago Sol was an excellent President. He didn’t make ‘emergency decisions’ when there was no emergency, didn’t violate the Bylaws, and didn’t overrule E.C. decisions. At that time I would have supported him against almost anyone. Now I would support almost anyone against him. Sol used to be a team member instead of King Solomon. He was cooperative, helpful, sincere, honest, unselfish, cordial, considerate, dedicated, and self-sacrificing. A former E.C. Vice President wrote to me that we were extremely fortunate to have Sol Schiff as President. I agreed with him fully at the time, but regrettably we no longer feel that way. It’s too bad that Sol has changed, possibly caused by the pressure of the office; maybe the number of consecutive terms as President should be limited.”
As we just read in a Carr paragraph above, the E.C. did not accept the Nominating Committee’s choice of Bob Partridge to run for Recording Secretary—replaced him with Rufford Harrison.
I think this would have surprised Manny Moskowitz for one, since he had this to say about Bob in his Jan., 1984 Umpire’s Chair article (Timmy’s, 21):
“Bob Partridge of Lafayette, CA is to be commended on his job as Chief Umpire at the U.S. Closed just concluded in Las Vegas. Bob capably assigned umpires for the six feature tables, which were constantly rotating matches in Men’s and Women’s Singles due to the round- robin format being used to determine qualifiers for U.S. Team representation in the year ahead. Many of the umpires were called upon frequently, and without their cooperation I am sure there would have been delays and problems. In addition, Bob managed to meet the demands for umpires when requested by other players on the remaining 42 tables….”
Carl Danner, who himself is running for office in this spring’s E.C. election, writes the following Letter to the Editor (Timmy’s, Feb.-Mar., 1984, 3):
“One of my Campaign issues is Openness and Accountability in our USTTA government.
In that vein, I would like a public explanation of how Bob Partridge was replaced by Rufford Harrison on the Recording Secretary ballot.
Partridge is a talented worker and promoter who was one of three candidates nominated by the Nominating Committee. Harrison, the incumbent (and a current E.C. member) was substituted for Partridge by the E.C. during the Winter Meeting in Las Vegas. However, the Minutes of that Meeting (which are Harrison’s responsibility to compile) have yet to appear in SPIN. [They will appear (as we saw above) in very abbreviated form in the March issue.]
Why was Partridge (in my view the best qualified of the three who were nominated) the one replaced? I would like to know who it was that exercised that judgement; it was poor.”
Poor Rufford—can’t something positive come his way? Yes! Here’s SPIN’S “Harrison Dines at the White House” article (March, 1984, 11):
“USTTA Secretary Rufford Harrison was invited to the White House for a state dinner honoring China’s Premier Zhao Ziyang.
Harrison was extended the invitation as a result of his involvement in ‘Ping Pong Diplomacy’ nearly 13 years ago. Harrison, while attending the World Championships in Japan, was contacted by the Chinese officials and told that the U.S. Team was invited to mainland China for friendly competition. Harrison still maintains that “it was the most important event in my life” and sometimes finds it difficult to believe he was part of such a momentous event.
Harrison’s wife Marty joined him for the dinner and amidst the hubbub of the elegant evening she managed to show President Reagan a photo of her horse.”
Nancy Persaud also calls attention to Harrison’s invitation to the White House (Timmy’s, Feb.-Mar., 1984, 3). First, she gives us a quote by Hugh Sidey from the Jan. 23, 1984 issue of Time Magazine, then a Letter to the Editor. Here’s Sidey:
“A White House dinner is the American family assembled, from labor leaders to billionaires, actors, architects, academicians, and athletes. They gathered last Tuesday in honor of China’s Premier Zhao Ziyang, who governs more people than anyone in the world.
There was a fellow named Harrison who led the U.S. Ping Pong Team to China back in 1971 [no, that was Graham Steenhoven—was he asked to attend?], and Connie Chung, the NBC anchor whose parents and four sisters were born in China and who bravely tried her Chinese on Zhao, who bravely professed understanding.”
Now comes Persaud’s “Why Not Danny to the White House?” Letter:
“I’ve just read the above account in a January issue of Time Magazine.
Why wasn’t a PLAYER sent to the White House? If Rufford was invited, he could have sent someone a little more memorable instead. What a wonderful opportunity it would have been for Danny Seemiller to get something back for all he’s given. [But, Nancy, this was a state dinner for the Chinese Premier—surely Danny (worthy as he is to be honored) was not the appropriate choice for THIS occasion. Ping Pong Diplomacy is an important part of history in U.S.-China relations (still celebrated as I write in 2012), and after all it was Rufford who was first approached by the Chinese in 1971 Nagoya, Japan.] Danny has star quality and a physique that would stop a crowd. The reporter wouldn’t have said, ‘somebody named Seemiller’ if HE had gone! And T.T. might have gotten some great publicity. So Danny didn’t make the 1971 China trip. He could have gone to the White house representing T.T., or somebody who DID play and still plays (Olga [Soltesz], Judy [Bochenski]?) could have gone. One more missed opportunity for T.T. that wouldn’t have cost a thing. One more time when an official was highlighted when a player would have been better.”
Well, for better or worse, here’s another time when an official is highlighted: Sol Schiff makes a Statement [though not his SPIN Election Campaign Statement] in Boggan’s own magazine (Timmy’s, Feb.-Mar., 1984, 3):
“I first want to thank Tim Boggan for his invitation to all E.C. candidates to write their campaign statements in his magazine. If I am invited to be a guest in someone’s home, I always treat my host with respect—I now feel I am a guest in his home (Boggan’s magazine) and as Tim Boggan is evidently now my host, I have no intention of stating anything that will be harmful or distasteful to him.
My statements now will be clear, short, and to the point. I have had my personal character questioned and been called a liar by several people who are not now holding any office in the USTTA. The words we knew as kids (Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never harm me) is not quite true. A man’s name and honor is the most precious asset that a man can have. I was playing and winning table tennis tournaments before the existence of the USTTA and I became a member the year the USTTA was formed in 1933. Most of my life has been in our sport and I know that I have contributed to it as much as I received from it. For whatever my word means to you (it means a great deal to me), I have never lied or manipulated against my accusers and, most importantly, I have never knowingly lied to you, the membership of the USTTA.
I have worked hard during the eight years of my Presidency and during those eight years we have accomplished more than in all the past years of the existence of the USTTA. We have had a few setbacks but setbacks occur in every successful sport and business. What we need most of all are capable people who are willing to devote time and effort to serve on the E.C. and USTTA committees. There are too many people who accept these positions and then either quit or else do not do anything after they are appointed. I know there are many capable, conscientious, and concerned individuals in our association that I hope will offer their services to the USTTA.
I have one request to make of you, and that is to please cast your vote for Rufford Harrison for Secretary of the USTTA. Harrison and Jimmy McClure are the two most capable men we have on the E.C. Harrison has always fulfilled every one of his assigned tasks and he is, by far, the most respected man we have on the international scene. Just last month, Rufford Harrison was invited and accepted an invitation offered by President Ronald Reagan to come to the White House for a reception that was given in honor for the Premier of the Peoples Republic of China. It is to your advantage and to the benefit of the USTTA to re-elect Rufford Harrison to office.
I also want you to note that this article is being sent to Tim Boggan and I have no doubt that he will read this article and use its contents to help him in preparing his own statement. Please remember that he has the advantage of seeing my statement while I cannot see his own statement until after it is published.
In conclusion, I would greatly appreciate a vote of confidence from you and I hope you will give me a great plurality over Tim Boggan. I am not nor do I want to be a dictator, but I need and want this large vote from you in order to impress the other elected people on the E.C. Do not vote to return to the years of 1972 to 1975 when Tim Boggan was President and then quit. As I stated previously, we have done a great deal the past eight years and I urge you to please let us continue even though we have a great deal farther to go. I look forward to the day when we can have a bright, intelligent, and energetic young man as USTTA President with an E.C. composed of capable and dedicated officials who will lead our sport to new and respected heights.
And here, while I allow the Election Campaign (and Schiff and Boggan’s Campaign Statements among others) to wait in abeyance before spinning all to its conclusion, is another Letter to the Editor—this a chapter-ending one from Matthew Zaputo of Las Vegas (SPIN, Mar. 5, 1984, 5):
“…The candidates [for the upcoming election] should be commended on their eagerness to speak out and take their respective stands. However, I am disgruntled about the ongoing feud between Tim Boggan and the USTTA. [A better way of putting it might be: the serious disagreements between Boggan and not the organization he will serve for half a century or more but some of those people in it who’re currently exercising power.] The conflict is reaching the point of absurdity and I feel it is time someone spoke about it.
Although I am not rated high (1149), nor have I been a member long (2 and ½ years), I feel my views are held by a large number of members.
To begin, I would like to acknowledge the fact that, as he has made all too clear, Tim Boggan’s views have always been rather controversial. However, the constant criticizing and public display of disapproval of the USTTA and its agencies cannot be warranted, and are detrimental to both Boggan and the USTTA.
But then the USTTA retaliates with some of the same tactics by repeatedly expressing its disapproval of many of Boggan’s actions and attitudes. If both parties would try to compromise and work together I feel a great deal could be accomplished, as both have a great deal to offer the Game which we, the membership, love. However, I grow tired of reading every month how one bitterly opposes the other. As a result, I hope the conflict is taken out of the two publications and into a mediator’s room so that the subscribers aren’t subjected to this asininity any longer.”
[Mr. Zaputo, what you call “asininity” cannot be stopped short of the election by any mediator—and not perhaps even after the election.]