Maryland, Georgetown, George Washington and Navy have begun discussions that could lead to a season-opening basketball tournament for area teams this November at Capital Centre.
The four schools met this week at Maryland to discuss the tournament, which American University athletic director Bob Frailey has been advocating for years.
However, American, which does not play Maryland in basketball, was not included inis week's meeting.
Informed of the discussins, Frailey said he was "disappointed that the area athletic directors did not include us. I'm upset about it. We've paid our dues for 12 years and we've pushed for this a long time. Now not to be in on it, well, that hurts."
Frailey said he had "nothing against Navy, they are a fine bunch of people, but we've got a chance here to have a great tournament for Washington metropolitan-area teams. Why do they have to go to Annpolis for a fourth school?"
Navy was included instead of American, sources said, becuase of a scheduling problem involving Maryland and Navy.
The Terrapins, who intiated this week's meeting, do not want to play Navy everyyear at Capital Centre, as they have been doing. Instead, they would like to play at Cole Field House one season and at Capital Centre the next. Navy is fighting the idea and Maryland apparently feels this is one way to settle the problem.
Maryland also would like to use the tournament as a means of lessening criticizm that it does not play enough games with other area schools. if the tournament is held, the Terrapins would not want to play Georgetown , George Washington and Navy later in the season as well.
George Washington athletic director Bob Faris said that this stipulation "bothers me. Ithink the rivalry we have had with Maryland has been healthy and I would hate to see it end.
"But if they don't want to play us, fine. We don't want to force anyone to play us."
Faris said he got the impression from the meeting that Maryland was saying "either play us in the tournament or after our contract with you ends, we aren't going to renew it." The two schools begin a two-year contract this winter, which calls for a game this season at Smith Center and one in 1978-79 in Cole Field House.
"I like the idea," said Faris, "although it might be hard for us to schedule it this year. We'd have to change our schedule around, do some shufflung. but this is a good thing for area basketball."
From Maryland's standpoint, a tournament would have a number of attractions. In addition to settling the scheduling hassle with navy, it would open up one more playing date during the regular season (a two-game tourney rather than three regular games) and it would probably mean a nice-sized paycheck, since the tournament should draw well.
The other schools feel the tournament would get the basket ball season off to a rousing start, plus make them money. But so would a regular game with the Terrapins later in the season, which is why they don't want to drop that contest.
Although no set format was agreed to at the meeting, the tournament probably would have a doubleheader the first night, with the winners of those two games meeting in the second game the second night after the losers play a consolation game.
Maryland athletic director Jim Kehoe and coach Lefty Driesell were unavailable for comment yesterday, Associate athletic director Alfred Hanlon said the tournament " was still in an idea stage and nothing more. We'd rather not comment on it until things are better developed than they are now."
The schools did not schedule a second meeting, but one will be held after each has had a chance to think over the idea.
Two other area Division I basketball schools, Howard and Catholic, also were not invited to the discussion. Nor was George Mason, which is trying to grow into a Division I membership. Mason is trying to organize its own early season tournament for November.
College basketball at Capital Centre has not drawn well except for a doubleheader two years ago that paired Maryland against Georgetown and Navy against American. A crowd of more than 14,000 showed up.