South African Golfer Terminates Affiliation With University Project
Jan. 07, 1988
YPSILANTI, Mich. (AP) _ A dispute over sanctions against his homeland has caused South African golfer Gary Player to drop his affiliation with a planned $6.5 million golf course near Eastern Michigan University, a school official said.
''Because of the international publicity Player received, he felt it was best for him to disassociate himself from the project,'' Roy Wilbanks, vice president for university relations, said Wednesday.
Several student and faculty groups charged that the Ypsilanti school's relationship with Player violated international sanctions against South Africa imposed because of apartheid, that nation's system of racial separation.
''It's not a question of Gary Player himself but one of what he represents as a South African and his position on apartheid,'' said Jerry Raymond, a member of Progressive Students for Social Change.
Wilbanks said the university made attempts to satisfy concerns about Player's stance on apartheid.
''Gary indicated that he could get the support of major black leaders in South Africa,'' but the university never received any further information, Wilbanks said.
However, Wilbanks added, the university had a videotape made for the ESPN cable television network in which Player said he opposed apartheid. That video has not been shown, he said.
The Huron Golf Club, scheduled for completion later this year, was to bear Player's signature. It will be part of a corporate education and conference center that Eastern Michigan and a private partner are developing.
Wilbanks said the university received notice from Player's Florida office Wednesday morning that he was withdrawing.
The dispute began in October when Player contracted with the university to allow his name to be used. Wilbanks had said the affiliation would help market the complex.
The controversy was extended beyond the golf course, which was vandalized in November, to include a scholarship fund for a South African student to study at Eastern Michigan. Player's contract called for him and the private developers each to pay $25,000 into the fund.
Raymond said the fund would benefit students chosen by the South African government, not students strongly opposing apartheid. With Player's withdrawal, the university loses the scholarship.