The National Collegiate Athletic Association's policy-making council has rejected some major proposals for reforming the NCAA's investigative and enforcement procedures that a congressional panel requested the organization to consider.
While rejecting 21 proposals mainly involving due process rights, the NCAA Council said 25 others, in whole or part, already were implemented or soon would be.
In a letter to the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, J. Neils Thompson and Edgar A. Sherman, NCAA president and secretary-treasurer, respectively, cautioned that some of the adopted proposals did not necessarily follow the intent of what witnesses recommended to the subcommittee for NCAA reforms.
Among the proposals cited as partially implemented, but which were possibly deviating from that intent was one permitting the calling of witnesses at hearings on suspected violations. The councils decided that such witnesses may be called, but only at the discretion of the NCAA hearing body.
Witnesses had complained to the subcommittee they were denied the right to present testimony that would exonerate them or cross-examine witnesses at NCAA hearings.
Under the council's action, the accused may now have an opportunity but not an absolute right - to call such witnesses, something that was not present in the past.
The council pointed out that it has not been the practice of the committee, nor is it the desire to convert proceedings to an adversary hearing, involving introduction of most evidence by examination and cross-examination of "live" witnesses.
The council also rejected a recommendation for a more detailed schedule of penalties, explaining that set punishments for violations would not allow the flexibility needed for mirigating circumstances.
he 46 proposals were forwarded to the NCAA council following nearly year-long subcommittee probe of how the NCAA investigates and punishes violaters of its rules.
A subcommittee spokesman said yesterday that retiring Rep. John E. Moss (D-Calif.), who chaired the hearings, would not comment on the council letter. Rep. Jim Santini (D-Nev.), who initiated the investigation, and Rep. Norman F. Lent (R-N.Y.), the NCAA's Chief defender, had not seen the letter and declined to comment.
In their letter, Thompson and Sherman said "certain members of the subcommittee may not agree with each viewpoint" of the council's decision, but that it was attempting to respond "in good faith."
They said 19 of the proposals already exist in whole or part, four are to be voted upon at the NCAA convention in January and two are under review by the council.
Among those to be reviewed by the convention are proposals for establishing standards of proof and evidence; a time limit for reviewing alleged violations, clarifying procedures for requesting new information and separating the functions of the Infractions Committee (judge) from the enforcement staff (prosecutor).
The last came under frequent criticism during the hearings because the current system, witnesses said, created at least the appearance, if not the reality, of a "kangaroo court" system of justice.
The two proposals under council review deal with appeals procedures. Of the remaining 21 proposals, eight were deemed undesirable and 13 clearly impractical.
Rejected, among others as undesirable were proposals for an additional oversight committee; the provision of hearing transcripts for involved parties and requiring the NCAA, instead of the college, to declare student-athletes ineligible for play.
The last was controversial because schools ordered by the NCAA to declare athletes or coaches ineligible opened the schools to costly litigation.
Under the "clearly impractical" category were recommendations that the NCAA conduct "joint and simultaneous investigations" with the accused school; a requirement to notify everyone interviewed of his right to personal legal counsel in the interview; permission to record the interviews; use of the services of the American Arbitration Association; eliminating prohibitions against extra benefits for athletes, and others.
The subcommittee staff is preparing a report on the hearings that may or may not recommend legislation.