The powers of college football are expected to prevail Thursday in their 2-year-old battle to create their own division within the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
According to Boyd McWhorter, commissioner of the Southeastern Conference, the big-time football schools have enough votes to carry out the proposed reorganization of football's current Division I into two subdivisions - I-A for the schools with major programs and I-AA for those with less intense programs.
If the controversial reorganization plan is approved, as many representatives at the NCAA's 72d annual convention here anticipate, the frequent threats of the football powers to bolt from the NCAA and create their own governing body would be ended.
While refusing to speculate on Thursday's reorganization vote, Ernest Cassale, chairman of the Division I steering committee, said today, "I don't feel there will be a break."
"(The major football schools) now have a lobbying organization (the College Football Association) and they would use that to help get the legislation they want."
The reorganization campaign [WORD ILLEGIBLE] because the colleges with major football programs were anmoyed that schools with smaller programs had such a large voice in matters affecting the major schools, including the distribution of gate and television revenue.
The football powers argue that self-determination is crucial to their future success and, ironically, that is the battle cry of the opposition camp in the reorganization controversy.
The schools at which basketball is the major sport and football a miner activity or nonexistent are the most concerned about the reorganization proposals because of candiditions the football powers [WORD ILLEGIBLE] impose on them for continuing in Division I basketball.
[WORD ILLEGIBLE] proposed, schools desiring to be Division I-A in football would have to sponsor a minimum of eight varsity Division I sports, including football. They would have to schedule at least 60 per cent of their games against Division I teams and have averaged more than 17,000 paid admissions at home in the last four years.
[WORD ILLEGIBLE]school could also meet the [WORD ILLEGIBLE]quirement by averaging 17,000 in any one of the last four years and having a stadium with a permanent seating capacity of 30,000.
To be a member of Division I-A [WORD ILLEGIBLE]school would have to sponsor least eight Division I [WORD ILLEGIBLE] including football and [WORD ILLEGIBLE] more than 50 per cent of [WORD ILLEGIBLE] games against Division I-A or O-AA schools.
[WORD ILLEGIBLE] Division I membership at schools like Marquette, where basketball is the predominant sport, 75 per cent of the games must be against other Division I teams.
The schools would also have to sponsor a minimum of eight varsity sports, including football, in any division, and basketball and six other sports in Division I. If a school, however, does not sponsor football in any division it must have a minimum of 10 varsity sports in Division I.
In the Washington area, Maryland, Virginia and Navy would become Division I-A in football, if the reorganization is approved, and remain Division I in their other sports. The three schools favor, the reoganization plan.
Robert L. Gluckstern, chancellor at Maryland, and Alan Williams, faculty representative at Virginia, both said the plan would "let like schools control their own destiny."
The other Washington-area colleges, at which basketball is the dominant sport, oppose the reorganization. They would remain in Division I, regardless of the vote with the possible exception of George Washington University.
GW athletic director Bob Faris said the proposed reorganization would require the addition of three sports to be eligible for Division I or a decision to go Division I in one sport and Division II in the others.
GW offers eight varsity sports, but only seven are in the required NCAA Division I championship category. Because GW has no football team, Faris said, the university would be obligated to sponsor 10 Division I championship sports to be eligible for Division I under the reorganization proposal.
"Ifwe don't add the three sports," Faris said, "I'm faced with decision of saying we'll go Division I in basketball or, maybe, soccer, and I don't want to make that choice, to say only one could be Division I and everything else has to be Division II.
Faris said he will recommend that GW consider sponsoring water polo, gymastics, volleyball or crosscountry to pick up the three sports needed to remain in Division I.
"I don't understand the philosophy of the major football schools trying to dictate the desires and attitudes of the major basketball schools," he said.
Howard's Leo Miles is also troubled by the proposal. The Bison play Division II football and he foresees them moving into I-AA or staying put depending on other criteria set for I-AA members.
"We're in between the devil and the deep blue sea right now," Miles said. "We'll have to see what they establish for I-AA in terms of scholarships and see if our instituation can afford to go in that area."
Brian McCall, representing Catholic University which plays Division III football, and he would decide after the convention whether CU sports other than basketball should transfer to other divisions.
Georgetown's Frank Rienzo, like McCall, is suspicious that there may be plans to have basketball undergo the same kind of restructuring a few years hence.
"Are they, in the future, going to set up criteria as fallacious for basketball as they're doing for football now - basing the division on stadium size and attenance?" Rienzo asked. "I don't think we should be establishing standards of excellence for a program on the average attendance and the stadium's size."