ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Having attained most of the reform goals they had set for this year's NCAA Convention, the leaders of college athletics are ready to focus on next year's key reform issue -- a program of certification or accreditation for athletic programs.
"I would see certification as being kind of a last piece in the puzzle," NCAA executive director Dick Schultz said Friday at the close of the NCAA's 86th annual convention. "Then I would hope we could kind of sit back, take a deep breath and fine-tune [reform measures adopted by the NCAA], let these things settle in so we can be sure they're doing what we'd hope they would do."
The reform movement promoted by the NCAA Presidents Commission certainly did not lose any steam during this year's convention.
Delegates supported almost all of the commission's proposals, including legislation that will strengthen the NCAA's academic standards for freshman eligibility.
Those standards -- commonly known as Proposition 48 -- currently require athletes to post a high school grade-point average of 2.0 in 11 core courses, as well as attain certain standardized test minimums to be eligible as college freshmen.
Starting with the 1995-96 academic year, however, the Proposition 48 standards will become more stringent. The required GPA will be 2.5. The number of core courses will be 13. Also in place will be a sliding scale in which athletes could be eligible as freshmen by offsetting GPAs between 2.5 and 2.0 with test scores higher than the established minimums (700 on the SAT or 17 on the ACT).
With the adoption of the new standards, delegates lined up in support of the Presidents Commission's reform initiative for the third consecutive year, a move sure to give the commission additional clout and momentum as it focuses on its primary areas for next year: institutional responsibility and presidential authority.
Gregory O'Brien, chancellor of the University of New Orleans and chairman-elect of the commission, said legislation will be developed to:
* Define the roles and functions of the commission and other college chief executive officers within the NCAA.
* Define the roles of CEOs in dealing with their own athletic programs.
* Establish a certification or accreditation program for schools' athletic programs.
Although it is little more than a vague concept now, athletic certification would represent a significant step for the NCAA, O'Brien said.
"The process of certification is one that's going to provide a fabric in which the integrity of the university in fulfilling its own determined mission for college sports is going to receive peer review through adherence to a small set of key principles," he said.
"That's going to be a tremendous step forward. You can make a lot of specific regulations. But if you have a process that allows people to look at the role of athletics in their institutions and then verifies that they are being consistent with that role, that's going to be a key [to reform]."