Thursday, April 3

Masters controversy chronology

A chronology of the controversy over Augusta National Golf Club's all-male membership:

June 12: Martha Burk, head of the National Council of Women's Organizations, urges Augusta National chairman Hootie Johnson in a letter to open club membership to women now ''so that this is not an issue'' at The Masters.

July 8: In a three-paragraph reply, Johnson writes that he found Burk's letter to be ''offensive and coercive.''

July 9: In a three-page, 932-word statement, Johnson alerts the media of Burk's intentions. He says women might one day be invited to be members, but on the club's timetable and ''not at the point of a bayonet.''

July 30: Burk writes to the CEOs of Coca-Cola, IBM and Citigroup, asking them to suspend their television sponsorship of The Masters because Augusta National excludes women from membership. She also writes PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem, asking that the tour no longer recognize The Masters as an official tournament.

Aug. 15: IBM replies in a letter to Burk that it does not view its sponsorship as contradictory to its corporate commitment to diversity.

Aug. 20: Finchem says the PGA Tour does not control Augusta National and cannot require the club to follow the tour's anti-discrimination policies. He says the tour will continue to recognize the Masters as one of golf's major championships.

Aug. 22: Citigroup says it will communicate its views privately with Augusta National.

Aug. 30: Johnson announces he has dropped The Masters' television sponsors to keep them out of the controversy. This leads to the first commercial-free broadcast of a sporting event on network television.

Aug. 31: Burk says her next target will be CBS Sports. The network declines comment, saying only that ''CBS will broadcast the Masters next year.''

Sept. 19: CBS Sports sends Burk a fax saying CBS will cover The Masters. ''To not do so would be a disservice to fans of this major championship.''

Oct. 7: USOC executive director Lloyd Ward, a member at Augusta National, tells Burk in a letter that he will work aggressively from the inside to lobby for a female member.

Oct. 8: American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault releases statement that he believes women should be members at Augusta National.

Nov. 11: In an interview with The Associated Press and four publications, Johnson says Augusta National has no plans to admit women as members.

Nov. 15: The Rev. Jesse Jackson says he and his Rainbow/PUSH Coalition will protest at the Masters if the club does not invite a female member.

Nov. 18: The New York Times publishes an editorial calling on Tiger Woods to boycott The Masters because of its all-male membership.

Nov. 20: LPGA Tour commissioner Ty Votaw urges Augusta National to admit a woman, saying its obligation to golf outweighs its rights as a private club.

Nov. 30: An Associated Press poll finds Americans evenly divided on whether Augusta National should have women members, while 75 percent said Tiger Woods should play.

Dec. 2: Thomas Wyman, a 25-year member at Augusta National and former CEO of CBS, resigns in protest over the women's issue. He said Johnson's position was ''pigheaded.''

Dec. 9: Treasury Secretary nominee John W. Snow says he will resign his membership at Augusta National.

Dec. 17: Burk's organization launches, which vilifies corporations whose CEO are members at Augusta.

Feb. 8: Burk makes her first trip to Augusta, Ga., to scout protest sites.

Feb. 19: City officials pass a law that requires demonstrators to give the sheriff 20 days' notice of protest plans. Burk calls this an intimidation tactic.

Feb. 22: Two groups apply for permits to protest against Burk.

Feb. 25: The Richmond County Sheriff's Office receives two more requests for a protest permit: Jackson and an unidentified man in Maine who supports Augusta National.

Feb. 27: The leader of a Ku Klux Klan splinter group asks for a protest permit so he can support Augusta National.

March 6: Burk asks permission for two dozen women to protest outside the front gates of Augusta National on April 12 during the third round of The Masters. She wants 200 others to demonstrate on Washington Road, across from the club.

March 12: The sheriff denies Burk's request to protest at Augusta National's front gate.

March 13: The American Civil Liberties Union files a federal lawsuit on Burk's behalf, seeking permission from the city to protest outside the gates.

March 18: An anti-Jackson group, the Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny, applies for a permit to demonstrate against Rainbow/PUSH.

March 26: Burk says at a New York City news conference that CBS' plans to televise The Masters is an insult to women in the U.S. armed forces.

    ESPN    Web