NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The 85th annual NCAA convention adjourned yesterday and reopened this morning to debate and vote on restructuring.
In between, there was much lobbying, much of it done by conferences that include schools from the Baltimore area.
Restructuring would force smaller Division I schools like those in Baltimore to expand their programs, bringing them closer to the big-time, big-budget schools. The move in that direction began yesterday with the passage of legislation that requires all Division I schools to play a minimum number of contests against other Division I opponents.
Today the NCAA members were to vote on other proposals that could force some of the local schools to add sports and scholarships if they want to stay in Division I.
The two key pieces of legislation for local schools are Proposal 45 and Proposal 46.
Proposal 45 would require all Division I members to sponsor at least seven men's and seven women's sports, and another part of the legislation would count indoor and outdoor track as one sport.
Proposal 46 would offer Division I members several formulas of funding a minimum number of scholarships. One formula would require at least 25 scholarships each for men's and women's non-revenue sports, or minimum budgets of $250,000 for each.
The two matters were to be voted on separately in the first order of business today. Debate on Proposal 45 lasted more than 40 minutes and ended in confusion yesterday.
An NCAA committee was studying last night whether a Division I-AA football program like Morgan State would have to fund only five other men's sports.
Coppin State and Maryland-Eastern Shore would have to add anywhere from one to three sports, depending upon what parts, if any, of Proposal 45 pass.
Coppin State, Morgan State and UMES are all members of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Its most vocal spokesman here is Dr. Edward B. Fort, the president at North Carolina A&T.
"There are a couple of campuses within our league who are going to have substantial difficulties with these proposals," Fort said. "I don't think it's totally and exclusively a race issue. The issue is haves vs. have-nots."
The NCAA Presidents Commission is backing the restructuring proposals, and many Division I-A members have spoken in favor of them. The start of the restructuring package did not bode well for some local schools, as Proposal 44, dealing with schedule requirements, passed by nearly a 2-to-1 margin.
Here's how it will work. Right now, Division I schools must field a minimum of six men's and six women's sports. Each of those sports has a minimum number of contests it must play. Smaller Division I schools used to be able to fill out those schedules with some Division II or III opponents. But under the new rules, they'll have to play Division I opponents.
The minimum for a baseball team, for example, is 25 games, and a Coppin State will now have to play at least that many against Division I foes.
Loyola and the rest of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, which includes several New York schools that rely on Division III competition in non-revenue sports, campaigned against Proposal 44.
Loyola's non-scholarship teams like swimming and cross country will now have to cut back on the number of smaller schools they schedule.
"It's going to mean some adjustment for our swimming, tennis and cross country teams, and that equates to more travel and more money," said James Smith, Loyola's interim athletic director. "For instance, we're not going to be able to play Johns Hopkins in some sports. It's a disappointment, because this isn't a major issue. We should be talking about reform in other areas."