The Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women wound up its convention here yesterday with members taking the offensive in a battle that could threaten the organization's future.
The nearly 600 delegates at the AIAW's seventh annual convention vowed to fight plans by the National Collegiate Athletic Association to begin championships for women in five sports at its Division II and III member schools.
The NCAA's plans, approved at its convention in New Orleans on Tuesday, have infuriated AIAW members who view the championships as an attempt to take over all women's sports eventually.
The NCAA championships would not go into effect until the 1981-82 school year and Chris Grant, the new AIAW president sworn in yesterday, said the organization will use the coming year to fight the NCAA plans.
"We've got a year to give a very good education to the chief executive officer of the NCAA and our first priority should be educating those in the decision-making positions at colleges," Grant said. "If we do the job thoroughly, in all likelihood, the (college) presidents will maintain their ties with the AIAW."
Both Grant and Donna Lopiano, president-elect, said there will be a grass-roots movement by AIAW members on campus to explain the AIAW's purposes and "why it should not be threatened by such NCAA actions."
"If the championships are indeed implemented, they would have a potentially drastic effect on the AIAW," said Grant, adding that there are reports of "a fair bit of sentiment in the NCAA to begin Division I championships for women if the others are successful.
The convention rejected overwhelmingly a proposal -- drafted before the NCAA took action -- that the AIAW and NCAA continue their years-old study of the feasibility of a possible union between the two groups.
Deleates called it very dangerous in light of the NCAA action.
Instead, they adopted two motions urging the immediate implementation and enforcement of Title 9, the federal law barring sex discrimination in, among other things, school sports programs.
Several delegates said they believe the NCAA plan constitutes a Title 9 violation because women in the AIAW's own divisions II and III, who now have 17 sports championships open to them, would be limited to five under the NCAA.
NCAA Division II and III colleges, whose women's programs are now under the AIAW, would be forced to pick between the two organizations. The National Association for Intercollegiate Athletics, another men's group, is also eying women's championships.
Expressing their opposition to the NCAA developments and further threats from the NAIA, the convention voted to:
Retain a separate organization devoted and committed to the governing and expansion of athletic opportunities for women's collegiate athletics.
Call upon the NCAA and NAIA to declare a five-year moratorium on efforts and plans to begin women's championships.
Recommend that the AIAW and NCAA continue their "in-depth study of alternate proposals" for governing intercollegiate sports "provided that any such study embodies the principle of equal decision-making authority for women and men."
Call upon member colleges to dedicate themselves to encouraging and perpetuating equal opportunity for women in the administration and leadership of athletic programs servicing women.
Grant said she would be "more than willing to talk to any men's governing group about alternate governing structures. "I'd be very happy to initiate any discussions because we hope to get this (NCAA action) rescinded."
In other action yesterday, the AIAW:
Rescinded a new transfer rule passsed on Tuesday because it did not conform to the educational philosolphies of the organization. AIAW lawyer Margot Polivy also told the convention that the new rule posed constitutional problems. As a result, the old rule went back into effect: a transfer student may play immediately for her new school but can receive no athletic scholarship the first year. The action came after several delegates said the changes implemented Tuesday brought the AIAW too close to the NCAA's system, one they reject.
Agreed to let beer and wine manufacturers sponsor AIAW events and projects.
Announced that the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network, a 24-hour sports cable network, will televise selected Division II and III AIAW championships this spring. The first championships in the two divisions to be aired will be in basketball, gymnastics and swimming and diving. The AIAW already has a contract with NBC-TV to televise its Division I games.
Agreed to allow colleges to subsidize certain costs for a student-athlete -- under seven different conditions -- participating in summer camps and on national teams.