No-scholarship plan could fly in Division I

January 10, 1991|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Evening Sun Staff


THE NCAA at its 85th annual NCAA convention yesterday passed legislation that limits the time student-athletes can spend practicing and playing. Today, it approved two measures that could open the door for an additional national football championship for Division I members who don't want to offer scholarships in the sport.

A resolution was approved that will pave the way for future legislation that could create another level of Division I. The I-AAA group includes members that offer scholarships only on a need-basis. That number expanded greatly just minutes before, when legislation was passed that prohibits Division I members from playing football in Division III after the 1992 season.

The two developments could have great impact in Baltimore. UMBC has expressed a desire to add football on a non-scholarship basis, and Towson State, a member of Division I-AA that considered dropping the sport at the end of last season, wants to keep its options open. Both are a member of the endangered East Coast Conference, which now seriously will consider adding football as one of the sports it sponsors, which could help its expansion efforts.

Dayton and Wagner, recent NCAA champions in Division III, will have to decide at what level they will play football. The Ivy and Patriot Leagues could opt for the I-AAA level if it becomes reality at the 1992 convention.

Dr. Hoke L. Smith, the president at Towson State, spoke against the approved legislation that will prohibit a Division I member from playing in Division II or III.

In other multi-divisional matters, legislation failed that would have required Johns Hopkins to receive majority approval from the nation's 51 other Division I lacrosse-playing schools for the Blue Jays to keep playing the sport at that level. Proposal 51 would have made all Division II and IIIs wishing to play up in a sport to go through a similar process. It needed approval from all three Divisions, and Division II voted it down.

Much of yesterday afternoon's business session revolved around controversial Proposal 38, and its passage will establish specific limits on the time studends can spend in mandatory athletically-related activities.

In Divisions I and II, there are new restrictions on the length of seasons and the the number of contests a team can play. Athletes will not be able to spend more than four hours a day or 20 hours a week on sports, and one day off a week was also mandated.

"This places stringent regulations on every aspect of an athlete's participation," Maryland athletic director Andy Geiger said. "The number of hours they can practice a week, what kind of practices they can engage in, length of seasons, all of that will be much more tightly regulated."

Several amendments created greater leeway beyond the core legislation for athletes in individual sports like swimming and gymnastics. Elite competitors with international aspirations, like Stanford swimmer Janet Evans, had criticized proposed limits without exceptions.

In some team sports like soccer, however, an athlete whose school doesn't sponsor an indoor team during the winter, a so-called "non-traditional season," wouldn't be able to play club ball during the school year.

Other ramifications of Proposal 38's passing are a ban on off-campus inter-squad basketball scrimmages and athletes missing class for practice.

In the scheduling department, basketball teams would have to cut back from 28 to 27 games, but certain non-revenue sports would be hit much harder, Division I baseball powers cutting from 70 back to 56 games and track and field from 24 to 18 meetings. In the fall, non-revenue sports couldn't schedule contests before Sept. 7.

There were 17 separate amendments to Proposal 38, which itself contained 13 bylaws. Proposed regulations confused many and angered some in yesterday afternoon's session, and promise to cause problems for coaches and administrators.

One bylaw will require Division I and II members to keep daily records of the time their athletes spend practicing or in any other athletically-related activity. In a convention that has revolved around cost reduction, some schools are concerned about the possibility of having to add personnel to help in the record-keeping.

"We're not going tp dedicate much enforcement staff to this," said Steve Morgan, associate executive director of the NCAA. "The main enforcement has to come from the athletes themselves."

In related legislation, Division III members also agreed to cut back on their schedules, and adopt a mandated day off for their athletes during their playing season.

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