Tuesday, July 10, 2012

When former pro athletes mess up your intramural game

Yesol Huh walked into a gym here for an intramural-basketball game last year, eager to help her team notch its first victory.

Then she spotted the opposing center.

He was 6-foot-9 and warmed up by violently dunking the ball in the Stanford University court. "We're never winning this game," Ms. Huh recalls thinking.

Her prediction was a slam-dunk: The center was Mark Madsen, a former player in the National Basketball Association. Mr. Madsen "had such good rebounding instincts, we eventually gave up and let him have every one," says Travis Johnson, one of Ms. Huh's teammates. Their side lost by 30 points. ...

Mr. Madsen, enrolled at Stanford's business school, had joined classmates for the game against Ms. Huh's squad, which was made up of Ph.D. students who called their team Full Frontal Nerdity.

Few on the Nerdity team had even played basketball before. Ms. Huh, a 5-foot-4 finance student, says she scored only one "goal" in two years. Mr. Madsen played nine years in the NBA, winning two championships with the Los Angeles Lakers. ...

The next day, a school administrator told [Madsen] he couldn't play anymore. Mr. Madsen's NBA career put him afoul of Section I of Stanford's intramural policy, which says "former PROFESSIONAL athletes are not eligible to participate in their associated sport."

The policy's key word is "associated," the 36-year-old Mr. Madsen argued. In an email to administrator Linda Clauss, he said she should let him in the coed league because "I've never played in a coed professional league."

Ms. Clauss rejected that argument and his contention that he wasn't a "former" professional because "I have never filed my retirement papers."
--Stu Woo and Justin Scheck, WSJ, on bullies