The Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women, in spite of a well-organized attempt to slow down the NCAA from taking over women's athletics, lost each of its major fights today at the NCAA convention.
Beginning at 8:15 this morning and ending at 6:30 tonight, the AIAW lost one vote after another in its attempt to keep the NCAA from usurping much of the power it has accrued during the last nine years. Although schools will be able to choose whether or not their women's athletic programs should join the NCAA, it is expected that the AIAW will lose much of its membership to the more powerful NCAA.
The other losers today were small colleges, who had advocated an amendment that would have based payment of room and board expenses for athletes on financial need. The major football and basketball powers mustered enough support to defeat that measure, 148-101.
But it was the AIAW that suffered the worst defeats today. The national governing body for women's athletics tried its best to keep the NCAA an all-male organization because the AIAW felt that women's athletics would take second-class status to men's sports in the NCAA.
Many schools, forced by the tight financial situation to choose between membership in either the NCAA or AIAW, are expected to switch allegiances to the NCAA, thereby seriously diminishing the AIAW's formerly complete power over women's athletics.
Before the long day was over the NCAA convention had voted to include women on its council, its executive committee and all its smaller committees. It had also voted in favor of holding championships in all divisions beginning this fall and in favor of giving new member schools four years to bring their own school or conference rules into compliance with the NCAA.
The key vote was the last one. The AIAW appeared to have salvaged a key point when the convention voted 128-127 against holding Division 1 championships this year. But on a revote, the last of the day, that decision was reversed, 137-117.
"This marks the death knell of the AIAW," one delegate said moments later. "The NCAA has just taken over, probably for good."
The women's issues took the most time, but the most dramatic fight of the day was over the financial need question. Father Edmund P. Joyce of Notre Dame gave an impassioned speech during the debate and compared the proposal to the 18th Amendment (Prohibition) of the U.S. Constitution. t
A number of other significant amendments were passed. They included:
A package of recruiting proposals put together by the College Football Association (CFA) which will increase the number of allowable contacts between a college and a high school athlete from three to six; will restrict the time period in which football coaches can contact high school players to Dec. 1 to March 1. A similar proposal limiting contact by basketball coaches also was passed.
An amendment forbidding conferences to have letter-of-intent signing dates earlier than the national signing dates. Many conferences have conference signing dates that are much earlier right now.
The proposal to make at least part of an athletic scholarship based on financial need was not a new one, having almost passed in 1976. That year Joyce was given much of the credit for keeping the proposal from passing because of the speech he delivered. Today, although the vote count was 148-101 in the end, Joyce again took no chances.
Speaking specifically of football and, like most of the other speakers ignoring the other sports, Joyce said, "It would be the height of folly to say that football players are not different from other athletes. Other athletes come to us seeking scholarships. With football players, the shoe is on the other foot because we vigorously recruit their special talents."
Joyce went on to cite the "Spartan regime" football players must follow once they arrive on campus and pointed out that the current rules allowing full athletic scholarships were passed in 1956 to eliminate under-the-table payments and phony jobs.
"I would be truly horrified," Joyce continued, "at having a need factor affect my recruiting. It would create an aura of mistrust among institutions. aThis proposal would be less accepted in football circles than the 18th Amendment, prohibition, was in this country.
"Its potential effects on the fragile fabric of honesty we now have could be devastating."
Penn State Coach Joe Paterno and Arkansas Athletic Director Frank Broyles both backed Joyce up. Paterno described himself as "one of the horrified coaches."
The AIAW, fighting against the governance measure, had hoped for some support from CFA members, some of whom had said they didn't want women on NCAA committees or the NCAA Council. But only Russ Potts, athletic director at Southern Methodist, joined the AIAW members in speaking against the amendment, which provides that four of 22 spots on hte NCAA Council, two of the 12 spots on the executive committee and varying numbers of slots on other committees be created specifically for women.