Exactly five seconds after the 75th annual NCAA Convention was gaveled to order today, the delegates found where the focus of the next three days will be: women's athletics.
Members of the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women, having held their convention last week, came here with a plan of action designed to head off proposals that could usurp much of the AIAW's current power.
With no voting on amendements scheduled, today was a day for politicking on all the issues that will be voted on Tuesday and Wednesday: women's athletics, financial aid, academic requirements, transfer rules. Although the so-called "governance" issues involving women make up only about 25 percent of the agenda, it quickly became apparent that those who have labeled this "the women's convention," were not far off base.
Step A in the AIAW plan called for Donna Lopiano, association president representing the University of Texas, to leap to a microphone almost at the same moment that NCAA President William Flynn called the first meeting of the convention to order.
Lopiano immediately moved that the agenda of the convention be revised to make three crucial amendments virtually the first order of business when voting on the 121 amendments begins Tuesday.
The crucial amendment to the AIAW is number 71, a proposal that would postpone any NCAA plan to authorize its own championships for women until after the NCAA and AIAW had met. Although various committees of the two associations have conferred, the ruling bodies of the two have never gotten together.
A second amendment the AIAW wants considered early by the more than 1,000 delegates here would keep the NCAA from initiating women's championships until constitutional changes are made to ensure equality for women.
The third amendment, which the AIAW strongly opposes, would make all rules that apply to men apply to women. The AIAW maintains that some rules are discriminatory against women.
Those three amendments are considered the key to a slew of propositions the NCAA Governance Committee has submitted.
If passed, the amendments would establish 29 NCAA championships for women and would increase membership of the NCAA Council from 18 to 22 to provide at least four spots for women.