George Washington University and the other seven members of the Eastern Athletic Association (Eastern 8) are facing expulsion from the Eastern College Athletic Conference because the league has signed its own Saturday afternoon television package for the coming basketball season.
The ECAC Infractions Committee has notified the Eastern 8 schools of violations and possible penalties if the league does not relent and move its TV package from opposite the ECAC package, which is televised by TVS and NBC on Saturday afternoons.
The Eastern 8 athletic directors will hold a conference call at 11 a.m. today to discuss the situation. Both sides have been adamant in their stands and have refused any attempts at compromise in the past two months.
At stake for the ECAC, an amalgam of more than 200 eastern schools in all three NCAA divisions , are power and future television revenues that help subsidize the ECAC's $450,000 annual operating budget.
The consequences suffered by the Eastern 8 teams will be minimal, generally in administrative matters such as scheduling and assignment of officials in basketball, baseball and football.
Besides GW, other Eastern 8 members are Villanova, Rutgers, West Virginia, Duquesne, Pittsburgh, Massachusetts and St. Bonaventure, which replaced Penn State for the upcoming season.
Expulsion from the ECAC would affect Villanova's national track program to the extent that the Wildcats could be banned from the prestigious IC4A championship. In baseball, GW got to the NCAA tournament last season via the ECAC playoffs. In the future, it would have to go as Eastern 8 champion if the league gets the automatic bid it is seeking, or as an at-large entry.
"It's simple," said GW Athletic Director Bob Faris. "We've been in the ECAC 10 years and we've never been on a Saturday TV game. We (the league) package our own and we'll be on at least twice, may be as many as three or four times this season."
The ECAC is reported to be putting pressure on such league members as Villanova, Rutgers and Massachusetts in hopes they will "knuckle under," as one source put it.
The eastern 8 TV package was put together by Dudley Freeman of DBD Inc. of Boston. WDCA-TV 20 will carry at least part of the package here, Milton Grant, the station general manager, said yesterday.
The ECAC-TVS contract has one year remaining. The package, which was negotiated before NBC got into the picture, currently is worth $188,000 per season. The league office gets 30 percent of that with the competing teams sharing the rest. Schools that do not appear on TV get no money from television rights.
The ECAC currently is negotiating a new contract with TVS. The ECAC's strongest basketball teams, including Georgetown, St. John's, Syracuse and Providence, recently formed the Big East conference and are expected to defect from the ECAC and put together their own TV package once the league gets an automatic bid to the NCAA basketball tournament in two years.