NCAA schools defeat I-AAA proposal

January 10, 1992

A year ago the concept of Division I-AAA football was proposed -- guaranteed, really -- as a safety net for schools that play Division I basketball and played Division III football before being voted out of that classification last year. That net was yanked away yesterday at the 86th NCAA Convention in Anaheim, Calif., creating what Ohio Wesleyan president David Warren called "a new division of homelessness in America."

The Division I-AAA measure was defeated in a roll call of the entire NCAA membership (divisions I and III supported the idea and Division II beat it; all three must pass), forcing the likes of Georgetown to compete in Division I-AA or drop football altogether.

Expulsion from Division I-AAA is effective after the 1992 season. Those schools and five others, however, anticipating a possible defeat, formed a Division I-AA alliance that will play under Division III philosophies and make no attempt to compete for the I-AA championship.

The substance of the defeat was twofold: fear on the part of traditional Division I-AA and II programs that the formation of a non-scholarship I-AAA class (with Division I basketball privileges) would cause an exodus from their ranks; and continuing resentment by I-A football schools that the likes of Wagner, for instance, can compete for the Division I basketball championship without fielding a big-time football team.

This month, Towson State athletic director Bill Hunter said the Tigers, who currently play Division I-AA football but were switching to I-AAA, would start playing non-scholarship football in 1993. UMBC, which doesn't have a football team, also has expressed interest in non-scholarship football. Both play Division basketball.

* An amendment was passed forcing football and basketball coaches to receive approval from the university for all outside athletic-related income, including shoe contracts. "It's a control issue for the presidents," said LSU athletic director Joe Dean, who said DaleBrown's $250,000 LA Gear contract already is subject to approval.

* Also approved was a proposal allowing undergraduate athletes who are involuntarily drafted (baseball and hockey) to negotiate to learn their professional value without losing eligibility. The rule does not apply to football and basketball players who make themselves eligible for the draft before their eligibility expires, but could open the door to such applications in the future.

* If the NCAA's new academic requirements, passed Wednesday, had been in place in 1988, almost four of every 10 freshman football and basketball players would have been disqualified.

That's the indication drawn from an NCAA study. It doesn't take into account an argument of supporters of the tougher standards: that high school students, when challenged, will bring their grades up.

* In other legislation, the Great Alaska Shootout was given a waiver from next year's Dec. 1 season-start date and football coaches were prohibited from using toll-free numbers in recruiting.

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