The nation's major amateur sports groups have generally welcomed recommendations from the President's Commission on Olympic sports to change the structure of amateur sports.
However, the groups say there are aparts of the 613-page report that need to be clarified, specially with regard to representation on a revamped U.S. Olympic Committee.
Almost without exception, the groups endorse the proposals for giving sports groups, particularly the smaller ones, a financial lifeone through a number of fund-raising techniques.
The groups also see the report's various proposals as a way to end the warfare between the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the Amateur Athletic Union through aritration and rules for becoming the national coverning body (NGB) of a sport.
But while the groups would like to have many of the recommendations implemented immediately, they know that the wheels of congress often move slowly and there are other national priorities.
The NCAA, significantly, has said that many of the commission's recommendation's have considerable merit. NCAA lawyer Mike Scott said the NCAA, which withdrew from the USOC in 1972, is debating whether it should rejoin the USOC or work through the NGBs.
Scott said the NCAA might have some objections to portions of the proposed athletes' bill of rights since some colleges may not have the financial resources to investigate the propriety of individual events a student or team may want to participate in.
While awaiting final word from its executive council, the NCAA has tentatively endorsed the reorganization of the USOC; the creation of a vertically integrated NGB system to allow participation in NGB of groups involved in developing a particular sport, and of having the American Arbitration Association resolve franchise disputes and guaranteeing athletes representation from the grass roots to executive level.
The NCAA's rekindled interest in the USOC and its operation partially stems from commission recommendations that would have the effect of breaking up the power bloc of the AAU.
The AAU currently is the NGB for eight of the 28 Olympic sports. Under the commission's proposals, the AAU could not be the NGB for more than one sport and have more than 20 per cent control over any other NGB.
AAU president Joel Ferrell also acknowledged that if the commission's proposals are adopted, the AAU's role in the USOC would be diminished.
"There are some good features in the report, but some areas need clarification for further interpretation," said Ferrell. As an example, he cited the report's suggestion that all NGBs be autonomous bodies and wondered how the commission might interpret that word.
Also, Ferrell said, a person sent to a national meeting of an NGB might be affiliated with the AAU, but could be representing his club or his sport. How would the 20 per cent rule apply in that instance? he asked.
Ferrell also noted that if the AAU is limited to representing one sport, it would most likely pick a stronger one such as swimming (which includes diving and water polo) or track and field. This could leave the weaker sports, like luge, to fend for themselves financially and administratively if there is no USOC help. Could such sports survive independently?, he asked.
Col. F. Don Miller, executive director of the USOC, calling the report the most comprehensive study ever of U.S. amateur sports, said he believes many of the recommendations will enhance sports development in the country.
Miller said he thinks there are some areas of the report that could be improved upon or clarified, such as the section saying a criterion for becoming an NGB requires reasonable representation of groups involved in the particular sport. What is "reasonable?," he asked.
Miller added that the athletes' bill of rights should be more specific and that the USOC should probably have some representation from the private business sector instead of being composed solely by NGBs.
While generally pleased with the report, he emphasized that some of the recommendations have been or are in the process of being adopted by the USOC. Specifically, he mentioned arbitration, an athletes' bill of rights, the creation of national training centers, research in sports medicine and the establishment of criteria for becoming an NGB.
A significant portion of the report, he said, was the proposal to raise $215 million in start-up costs and an annual budget of $83 million by congressional action and contributions from the private community and industry.
Although the role of the AAU will be diminished in the USOC under the proposals, Miller said, he expects it will still be very active in developing various sports at the state and regional levels.
Furthermore, he said, there is nothing in the report to preclude the AAU from performing common administrative services for a large number of sports in the area of registration, insurance and publicity.
The inital reaction of the International Olympic Committee to the report has been positive, Miller said, adding that he was happy the commission recommended that the USOC remain the country's national Olympic committee.
(If the commission had recommended otherwise, the IOC could have refused to recognize another body as the NOC and bar the United States from Olympics.)
While the commission report was still being written, the USOC devised its own reorganization plan that would phase out its 91-member board of directors and keep its 52-member executive board but create two 11-member panels. One of the panels would enforce policy and the other act in an advisory capacity.
His and the commission's plan will be discussed at an April meeting. The commission's plan calls for Congress to amend the USOC charter.
"I don't see, with all the major problems of the current administration, that we can look for any immediate legislation for probably 18 to 24 months," said Miller. "But it behooves us (to reorganize voluntarily)."
Judy Holland, president of the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women, said the AIAW's officers and international commission will be discussing the plan soon.
"For women, the report clearly goes beyond what other studies have done and shows a great deal of concern for women athletes," Holland said.
But, she added, future performances by American women in the Olympics will depend to a great extent on how much colleges are willing to commit in developing their programs for female student athletes.
The report has also received the endorsement of Celeste Ulrich and LeRoy Walker, president and president-elect, respectively, of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education and Recreation.