Smaller leagues may get bigger chancesNCAA plan: Expand...

December 17, 1992|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Staff Writer

Smaller leagues may get bigger chances

NCAA plan: Expand the tournaments

Conference championships are often the end of the line for teams from minor Division I leagues, but that could change next season.

Mainly in response to calls for gender equity, but also with an eye toward tournament fields that reflect participation rates and a fairer distribution of its revenue, the executive committee of the NCAA has recommended the expansion of several of its Division I tournaments.

The executive committee has proposed the following expansions of tournament fields, effective for 1993-94: women's basketball from 48 to 64 teams, women's volleyball from 32 to 48, men's soccer from 28 to 32, softball from 20 to 32 and women's soccer from 12 to 16.

In addition, volleyball, softball and men's soccer champions from weaker conferences would benefit from the play-in concept, which was used to accommodate an excess of eligible leagues in men's basketball in 1991.

Some recent examples are on Cold Spring Lane, where last month the volleyball teams from Loyola and Morgan State won the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournaments, respectively. That's as far as both teams went, but the executive committee recommendations would let them try to play their way into the NCAA tournament.

Rich Ensor, the commissioner of the Metro Atlantic, is often leading the fight being waged by the small-profile conferences for greater power in Division I. He said the executive committee proposals, which are expected to become reality when that group meets next May, are overdue.

"More athletes will feel they're part of the NCAA championships," Ensor said. "Conferences at our level are putting quite a bit of resources into regular-season competition in the so-called non-revenue sports, and our champions at least deserve the chance to try to play their way into NCAA tournaments."

Terrors' Johnson honored

Western Maryland tailback Rob Johnson (Westminster) was named yesterday to the Champion U.S.A. Division III All-America Football team.

Johnson, a junior, was the lone honorable-mention selection at running back and one of just seven picked to the All-America team. He carried the ball a school-record 330 times for 1,560 yards and established Western Maryland single-season highs for total and rushing touchdowns with 18 and total points with 116.

Salisbury taking its time

Most of the state's Division III basketball teams have begun a holiday break that will keep them quiet for three weeks, and the Salisbury State men need the time to regroup.

With 1991-92 National Player of the Year Andre Foreman gone to the Greenville (S.C.) Spinners of the Global Basketball Association, no one expected the Sea Gulls to return to the NCAA quarterfinals, but they weren't expected to be 3-5 at this point, either. Three of the losses were to scholarship programs, and the Sea Gulls have hurt themselves with 41.8 percent shooting. Their up-tempo offense has averaged just 87.1 points per game.

Longer wait for Morgan State

Morgan State originally planned to have a new track and field coach by now, but its search for a successor to Leonard Braxton will last at least until January. In the interim, the Bears will remain under the direction of Arlise Emerson-Cooper.

Briefly noted

Glenn Smith, Morgan State's leading basketball scorer two years ago, is playing for St. Thomas Aquinas, an NAIA Division I school in Sparkill, N.Y. . . . Jerry Phipps, the Essex Community College basketball coach, has 597 victories and hopes to get No. 600 in January. . . . The women's basketball teams from Buffalo, Princeton and William & Mary will be in Annapolis for the Navy hTC Classic on Saturday and Sunday.

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