It will be known, for years to come, as the "women's convention." But even though talk throughout today's final session of the 75th annual National Collegiate Athletic Association Convention centered on the historic votes Tuesday that incorporated women into the formerly all-male organization, the convention also will be remembered for rules changes that will alter recruiting drastically.
The most important of those was the adoption in football and baseball of limits to the times when off-campus recruiting is legal. Next was the ruling that no conference can set up a letter-of-intent signing date earlier than the national signing date.
"This will change football recruiting, especially in the South drastically," said Richard Giannini, Florida assistant athletic director. "Most southern schools were just about finished recruiting in December. Now we'll have to keep recruiting into February."
"It's going to force us to change the way we live," said Vince Dooley, coach of Georgia's national champions. "Recruiting will be a much later thing that in the past."
That was exactly the intent of the legislation. Now coaches will not be able to visit prospects until Dec. 1. There will be no obligation to see a star play every game of his senior year to keep him happy.
Another major order of closing-day business was the election of James Frank, president of Lincoln University (Jefferson City, Mo.), as the new NCAA president. He is the first black president of the NCAA.
Frank, who had held the position of secretary-trasurer, the No. 2 post in the NCAA, last year, is also the first university president to hold the post.
Another vital piece of legislation adopted by the convention involves "satisfactory progress," which sets up a minimum number of credit hours an athlete must complete in order to remain eligible every year. In the past, schools have voted down proposed legislation setting up national minimums because they have maintained it should not be within the jurisdiction of a national organization to set academic standards at individual schools.
"I think this was a sustained response to the serious problems which have become public in the last year," Walter Byers, NCAA executive director, said. "I think the delegates recognized the need to take some action immediately."
The delegates rejected a number of other proposals that would have tightened standards even further. Among the amendments voted down were a proposal to set up a minimum 1.8 grade point average to retain eligibility, a proposal to deny eleigibility to freshmen with less than a 2.75 high school grade point average, a proposal to raise the minimum high school grade point average required for scholarship eligibility and athletic participation from 2.0 to 2.2 and a proposal that would have forced junior college transfers to sit out a year unless they have graduated from the junior college.
One small victory for the academic-minded came when the convention voted in favor of an amendment that holds that an athlete who does not meet the 2.0 minimum in high school and then attends a junior college cannot become eligible unless he graduates from the junior college. The proposal was a response to the "loans" of student athletes major schools make to junior colleges for a year in order to get their averages up to 2.0.
The only controversy during today's relatively tame final session centered around two proposals designed to change the minimum number of varsity sports a school may offer and still remain in Division 1.
One proposal called for a minimum of six varisty sports at schools that do not have football teams. Many smaller schoold argued against the legislatuion, saying they cannot afford to field that many teams.
Another proposal, which would have reduced from eight to six the number of varisity teams a school must offer in order to remain in Division 1-A in football, was defeated.
In its final hours, the convention voted, as Notre Dame Athletic Director Gene Corrigan put it, to "allow what is already happening anyway," when it voted to allow bowls to contact schools beginning Nov. 1 instead of technically prohibiting conversation between them until Nov. 15. It voted against overtime in bowl games and against a request to expand full-time football staff from eight to nine while limiting part-time coaching slots.
The convention also voted today to place the "five year rule," requiring that an athlete complete his four years of eligibility in five years, in the bylaws instead of the constitution. The move will enable divisions 2 and 3 to modify the rule next year if they choose, since it is a rule basically set up to prevent abuse of Division 1 red-shirt rules.
The convention rejected a request from Tennessee State, a predominantly black school, to exempt it from the requirement to play at least six games against Division 1 opponents to attain Division 1 status. Athletic Director Samuel Whitman asked for the exemption, saying that even though his school met all other Division 1 criteria it had been unable to schedule Division 1 schools.