The National Collegiate Athletic Association, one of the country's most powerful amateur sports organization, has applied to the U.S. Olympic Committee for readmission following a six-year separation.
Col. F. Don Miller, USOC executive director, told The Washington Post yesterday that he received the application Thursday. He expects it to be approved at a USOC meeting in Florida this month.
The NCAA withdrew from the USOC after the 1972 Olympics in protest of the Amateur Athletic Union's influence over the USOC and international competition. It was especially upset over sports the NCAA had developed at the national level.
The feuding between the two groups was widely considered to have hurt the U.S. Olympic movement and stymied overdue reform of the USOC.
Because of the NCAA's role in amateur sports, its absence further hindered reforms until last year. The USOC voluntarily began implementing reforms recommended by the President's Commission on Olympic Sports.
A bill to codify those changes is before the Senate Commerce Committee. It is expected to win Senate approval this month.
Walter Byers, NCAA executive director, said the application for readmission was tied to that restructuring and, in particular, the criteria established for becoming a national governing body of a sport.
The criteria, as recommended by the commission and embodied in the Senate bill, has the effect of breaking the AAU's former stranglehold on the USOC through its control of the major national governing bodies.
By the same criteria, the NCAA would also be ineligible to become a national governing body.
"From the NCAA's standpoint, it's (the pending readmission) a positive move," Byers said. "We haven't enjoyed being outside the USOC. It's not something we've reveled in, nor did we particularly appreciate the notoriety which has gone with it.
"At the same time, (the break) has been justified. We think our withdrawal contributed to the revision of the USOC . . . Now it can benefit from having our efforts and energy devoted to the strengthening of the committee and the U.S. Olympic movement. We're going to return with enthusiasm."
The NCAA's return will be the result of a "very carefully orchestrated compromise," according to a close observer.
The NCAA objected to a portion of the Senate bill, introduced by Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), that provided an athletes' bill of rights.
The current bill has no substantive provisions on athletes' rights - the result of a compromise with the USOC's athletes' advisory body - But the USOC's constitution is to be amended at the Florida meeting to provide for the establishment of procedures for settling disputes.
The NCAA has agreed not to try to block athletes from participating in Olympic, Pan American or other world championships or qualifying meets.
In another development yesterday, Miller said the Association for Inter-collegiate Athletics for Women, the women's counterpart to the NCAA, had applied for admission to the USOC.