It’s a Wonderful Life for Frankel

“What kind of year have I had?” said Bonnie Frankel. “Would crazy be enough of an answer? No? Well, then say I graduated college, won an issue, ran fifth in the nationals, gambled on not working so I could better myself and stayed alone. I don’t want another powerful man to eat me up. I won’t pair until I’m stronger.”

Bonnie Frankel turned 49 this month. And, as she would be the first to tell you, is still in the process of becoming. She opened the year as a senior at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. She had found out she couldn’t compete on the track team because her Division I eligibility had run out 26 years ago.

She originally entered college in 1962, did poorly and dropped out, but nonetheless started the clock on her five years of athletic eligibility. In those pre-Title IX days before the National Collegiate Athletic Association staged women’s championships the five-year eligibility rule was basically meant to prevent coaches from ripening football players for 10 or 12 years.

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Colleges; Its Good Deeds Aside, N.C.A.A. Is a Culprit

Bonnie Frankel has a cold, an “emotional cold,” she thinks, from watching herself become a heroic symbol, so she probably won’t jump into the swimming pool until tomorrow at the earliest. Joan of Arc was burned for following her inner voice, so Frankel, who is not put off by the comparison, is willing to wait a few more days to get wet.

Bonnie Frankel is a 48-year-old senior at Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles. She was unable to compete on the varsity track team because she had originally enrolled in college in 1962. Under National Collegiate Athletic Association rules, the five-year period of eligibility at Division I schools begins the first day of enrollment. Bonnie had dropped out of school in 1963, but by 1967 she was out of luck anyway.

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