Delegates at the NCAA convention over-whelmingly rejected a proposal today to overhaul the organization's disciplinary system, but adopted some measures designed to reform parts of it.
The 28-page proposal sponsored by Burton Brody, University of Denver law professor, and 10 colleges was defeated after five speakers argued that it was too cumbersome, and unnecessary because reforms in the system are routinely made.
A proposal from Long Beach State Fresident Stephen Horn for a year-long review of the Brody plan and its legal repercussions at each member college also was soundly defeated.
Both proposals were separate from those made by a congressional subcommittee that studied the NCAA enforcement system last year, but reflected many of the subcommittee's recommendations.
The subcommittee urged that the NCAA create an independent panel to study 18 congressional recommendations and conduct its own investigation of the NCAA disciplinary system. That also has been rejected, opening the way for possibly more congressional hearings this year.
"It would be a very serious mistake if we abandoned the program which has been developed over the past six years," said Charles Alan Wright, chairman of the NCAA's infractions committee, the deliberative body in rule violation cases. "There is no status quo (in the system). The one constant has been change... We learn from our experiences and tailor changes" to needed reforms.
"We're living in an age of due process rights," argued Horn. "It's not a question of what's more appropriate to do, or what's more convenient to do... Should this association have any less standards of due process than we must render now at our (colleges)?"
Brody's proposal, among other things, would have altered the relationship between the NCAA investigafor-prosecutor (enforcement staff) and the judge (infractions committee).
Wright argued that separation now exists, but may not be apparent from sections of the text of the NCAA manual.
Wright said the infractions committee does not advise the staff on which witnesses should be interviewed and is never given specifics behind allegations when the staff asks the committee to authorize an investigation.
Wright said the committee does not summon the staff back after an infractions hearing to obtain additional evidence without also asking the accused.
The convention then adopted a number of measures to "clarify" that these are existing practices. But one of those proposals drew criticism from would-be reformers of the enforcement system because of the additional power it could give Walter Byers, the NCAA executive director.
This proposal authorizes the assistant executive director for enforcement, rather than the infractions committee, to determine if an investigation is to be started -- "subject to consultation with the executive director when necessary."
The delegates also approved a fouryear statute of limitations on investigations.
The proposals adopted by the convention are not apt to appease the congressional subcommittee, because they deal with only one aspect of the changes recommended in the overall relationship of the staff and committee. The staff still recommends penalties for colleges found guilty of violations by the committee and handles the appeals briefs for the committee.
The delegates defeated a proposal that would have knocked Ivy League schools and others with a 12-sport "broad-based program" out of Division I-A football, the category for colleges with major football programs. This proposal would have set attendance and stadium-size criteria those schools could not meet.
Also rejected was a series of proposals that would have limited financial aid -- except in football and basketball -- to tuition and mandatory fees. This would have sharply limited scholarships in the so-called minor sports and would have had a corresponding impact on the number of women who would be eligible for aid under Title 9.
Referring to the federal law barring sex discrimination in school sports programs, Horn summarized the convention's attitude: "We have Title 9 hovering in the wings. If we approve this (need-only proposal) it is going to look like the last dodge, folks, to avoid having to provide some grants-in-aid to womens' sports."
Delegates also turned down a proposal to eliminate the ban on having more than three contacts with an athlete a college is attempting to recruit.