The National Collegiate Athletic Association's procedures for enforcing its rules on member schools will be scrutinized tomorrow in the first of several congressional hearings on alleged abuses.
The House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation will call J. Brent Clark as its first witness. A subcommittee staff member, Clark is a lawyer and was on the NCAA's enforcement staff for two years.
Clark is expected to testify that the NCAA is selective in its investigation of major colleges suspected of having violated NCAA rules. Certain schools, he is expected to say, are exempt from NCAA sanctions.
NCAA Executive Director Walter Byers has labeled Clark's anticipated charges as ridiculous. NCAA representatives are not expected to testify until later in the hearings, which are expected to last several weeks.
Rep. John E. Moss (D-Calif.), subcommittee chairman, said the panel will study whether the NCAA is violating antitrust laws. Also on the agenda is whether the organization's investigative procedures and enforcement policies adequately provide for constitutional rights of due process. Still another subject of interest is whether penalties meted out to schools, athletes and coaches found guilty of rules violations are fair and equitable.
The subcommittee may widen the scope of its inquiry to include the NCAA's relationship with black colleges, other college sports groups and its role in international and women's sports.
The investigation was instigated by Rep. James D. Santini (D-Nev.), a subcommittee member. He collected signatures of 68 House members on a petition for hearings, after the University of Nevada-Las Vegas was penalized by the NCAA.
The university was placed on probation for two years as punishment for 18 rules violations in its basketball program between 1971 and 1975. The probation bars the school from postseason basketball competition for two years. It may not appear on NCAA-controlled telecasts during that period. Its permitted number of basketball grants-in-aid was also cut.
The postseason competition and the television sanctions go to the heart of the controversy. They mean the loss of substantial revenue.
The NCAA also strongly recommended that UN-LV basketball Coach Jerry Tarkanian be fired. Tarkanian fought the college in court and won. An appeal is pending.
The atmosphere surrounding the subcommittee's investigation has at times been charged with acrimony. The NCAA's record had to be subpoenaed. Moss charged, and Byers denied, there had been attempts by the NCAA staff to impede the subcommittee's probe and to "intimidate" colleges from cooperating.