The U.S. Senate has passed a compromise bill allowing a federal court to review a controversial foul call that determined the March 11 Big East basketball conference tournament game between West Virginia and Villanova.
President Bush has cancelled his vacation to return to Washington and sign the bill into law. The White House released a statement that read in part: "In cases like this one, where there are serious questions and substantial doubts, our society, our laws, and our courts should have a presumption in favor of letting the players play. Particularly in the last two minutes."
The disputed foul was against Villanova guard Allan Ray, who was called for allegedly pushing West Virginia's Mike Gansey in the back on the way up to the rim. The foul was called with 0.2 seconds remaining on the clock. Gansey sank two free throws to win the game.
The passage of the bill was hailed by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who had guided it through emergency procedures in the lower chamber. "After four days of words, the best of them uttered in prayer, Congress has acted, and a league title may have been saved. Democrats and Republicans, congressmen and senators all deserve respect and gratitude for their commitment to giving the Wildcats the chance we all deserve."
Congressman Earl Blumenauer of Portland immediately flew back to Portland to be interviewed on the subject for City Commissioner Randy Leonard's radio program, Sparky and Me. Speaking over a double tall nonfat decaf mocha latte, Blumenauer said the new law's language was "so broad and sweeping that it would call into question every traveling call and three seconds in the lane."
Villanova fans immediately set up camp outside the federal courthouse in Philadelphia, where the latest appeal is expected to be heard. One of those keeping vigil, Bob Herndon of Chester, Pa., called the ruling "a clear-cut case of referee tyranny. Ray-Ray might have gotten his hand caught on the guy's shirt a little, but that's not a foul."
In West Virginia, Mountaineer boosters deplored the congressional action. "We don't want politicians deciding our fate," said Hector Haggard, a season ticket holder. "We already have instant replay and the possession arrow. Who's next, America? Your kid's soccer team?"
Marty Seward, a former junior varsity reserve for West Virginia, agreed. "These guys in Washington, D.C. don't care what happens to Villanova in basketball. They're just using this to draw attention away from the deficit and the war."
A spokesman for the Vatican expressed strong support for the new court review of the call. "The Pope has recently made himself very clear on this issue," said Cardinal Vito Sorrentino. "You must respect the sanctity of the rebounder at the end of the game, even if he is going over the back. 'The letter of the law killeth, but the spirit giveth life.' We must put an end to the culture of stopping play whenever it is convenient." Villanova is a Catholic school.
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» Emergency appeal for a basketball game from JohnHays.net
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Jack Bog, being a law professor and all, has the latest news about the emergency appeal concerning the game betweet West Virginia and Villanova.
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