"Greed" and "principles" were the two words heard most frequently here Friday, when members of the College Football Association tentatively approved a contract with the NCAA contract with the other two major networks.
"Let's face it," said Wiles Hallock, the man who presented the NCAA's case to the convention, "greed is not the exclusive property of the CFA."
Hallock had just finished addressing representatives from the 61DFA members, who later voted 33-20 to conditionally ratify the NBC contract. Hallock had been trying to convince them to pass up NBC's four-year, $180-million offer because it might nullify the NCAA's recently signed four-year, $263-million deal with CBS and ABC. Now, Hallock, commissioner of the Pacific-10 Conference and chairman of the NCAA television committee, sat amid the seedy couches in the lobby of the Capitol-Airport Hotel and tried to sound diplomatic.
He was attempting to convince skeptics that the NCAA people didn't think the CFA people were traitors.
"The CFA has many goals which are laudatory," Hallock said. "It's just trying to make college football more . . ."
He stopped. He didn't want to say the word he was coming to. Someone said it for him: "professional."
"Well, I didn't exactlymean it that way," Hallock said, laughing in spite of himself. "I think the CFA is interested in upholding the principles of college football. We just differ philosophically on how to do that."
Those who came here Friday for a vote that could start collegiate sport on a course that might completely alter its structure, spent much of their time explaining why this was all a matter of "principle."
"The rights to telecast football games belongs to the individual schools, not the NCAA," said Charles M. Neinas, the CFA executive director.
There is another factor involved in the CFA's argument over property rights. It is called cable television. Cable rights will be worth millions o collars in the near future, and the football powers want to be able to make their own deals.
The legal question, one that may ultimately be decided in court, is: who has the right to negotiate future television contracts? The CFA maintains that just because the NCAA has negotiated television contracts in the past, it does not have the right to do so now.
The NCA argues that, as the national representative of its member institutions, it is the bargaining agent for national television contracts. In addition, Tom Hansen, assistant executive director, contended Friday that a referendum last February of all 700-plus NCAA members granted it negotiating rights for the new contract. Most of the CFA schools voted against that referendum.
While the television question and he legalese that goes with it are the immediate issues, the basic issues go much deeper.
They date back to a meeting more than six years ago at Salashan Lodge in Glen Eden Beach, Ore. There, commissioners from seven conferences -- the Atlantic Coast; the Southeast; the Southwest; the Big Eight; the Western Athletic; the Big Ten and the Pac-10 -- gathered to discuss their frustrations with the so-called "Robin Hood amendments" being proposed to the NCAA. If passed, they would have devided television money equally among all NCAA members, regardless of division.
The amendments did not pass, but out of that meting, the concept of the CFA was born. Two years latter, in June 1977, five of those seven conferences joined with 17 independents, including Notre Dame, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Florida State, CFA. The Big Ten and the Pac-10 stayed out because their presidents disapproved.
The CFA wanted one thing from the NCAA: its own separate division, empowered to make its own rules. That way, smaller schools with less money would have no sayin deciding scholarship limits, coaching staff sizes, recruiting restrictions and, eventually, television contracts.
In Jnuary 1978, at the NCAA convention here, such a proposal almost pased. But at the last moment, Ivy League schools, which would have been left out of the new division, came up with a proposal allowing any school with 12 varsity sports to be in Division I-A. That doubled the number of schools that qualified.
It left the CFA as little more than a glamorous splinter group at NCAA conventions. In the last three years, CFA proposals -- usually with Joe Paterno, the Penn State football coach and athletic director, as their spokesman -- were repeatedly voted down.
"It's a constant frustration," said Clemson Athletic Director Bill McLellan. "I worl at this 365 days a year. Then some of the (college) presidents come into a meeting for two hours and they're the experts all of a sudden."
Those frustrations have brought the CFA to the brink of a break with the NCAA. The NBC contract has given it the leverage it has been searching for.
If the CFA schools decide on Sept. 10 to go ahead with NBC -- and the network subsequently decides the CFA has enough participating schools to make the package viable -- the NCAA may find itself in a difficult position.
"What happen to their basketball tournament if they put the CFA schools on probation?" said Gene Corrigan, Notre Dame athletic director. "I don't think this contract will hurt the NCAA. They will still have a TV contract, albeit a smaller one than the one they've negotiated. But if you combind that contract with the 8 percent they'll get from us, they'll probablymake just as much."
Without the CFA schools, ABC and CBS have the right to cancel or renegotiate their contracts. Most people think one of the networks would drop out and the other would buy the NCAA package -- which would basically be a Big Ten, Pac-10 package -- at a much cheaper price. Additionally, if the NCAA took action against the CFA schools that resulted in their basketball programs being placed on probation, it would make a farce of the NCAA basketball tournament and might put the new NCAA-CBS basketball contract in jeopardy.
Still, as Hansen pointed out, the NCAA will feel obligated to act against the CFA schools if they bolt. "I'm sure both our infractions committee and the NCAA council would look upon the move as a basic violation of our rules," Hansen said. "I think they would feel obligated to take action."
But punitive action might cause the CFA members to withdraw from the NCAA. That would cripple the organization, a fact that the CFA is banking on to keep it out of trouble.
But, as Friday's close vote indicates, many CFA members are against the power play. "The issues here are much too significant to move so quickly," said Jake Crouthamel, Syracuse athletic director who voted against the contract. "This is not just a TV contract being discussed."
That is why 16 of the schools were represented here by their presidents. Many are concerned that they are about to take a step that will destroy the remnants of amateurism in intercollegiate sport.
But Fred C. Davison, president of the Dniversity of Georgia and the CFA, insists that while money is a significant factor it is just that -- a factor -- and not the bottom line. "I've got to be a realist," Davison said."Last year we supported our entire athletic program through the money we made in football. That's an important consideration.
"But we're also concerned with the NCAA's relaxation of academic standards. Back in the days of the 1.6 rule, the high schools had to work to make the athletes eligible for scolarships. But 1.6 combined SAT scores, class rank and grades. Now, all a kid had to do is make a 2.0 in high school. Let's face it, in a lot of places, making a 2.0 means you stayed out of jail for four years."
Some hear the CFA's cries for academic integrity and snicker. Administrators from smaller Division I schools claim that the powerhouses are against the 2.0 rule because it makes more good athletes available and -- combined with the 95 scholarship limit -- gives smaller schools a chance to recruit good athletes and become competitive.
For now, though, the basic issues will be lost in rhetoric that will jam phone lines, televisions and newspapers between now and Sept. 10, a date that suddenly looms as a potential Armageddon for collegiate sport.
The NCAA and the CFA will undoubtedly spend the next 18 days lobbying the fence-sitters in the CFA. The CFA must get more than 33 schools to gain the leverage it is seeking. Additionally, the CFA must find a way to break up the splits in the SEC (6-4 in favor), the SWC (5-4 in favor) and the Big Eight (6-2 in favor). Conferences must make unanimous decisions. A split vote could mean the end of their conference, since it would be difficult to conduct competitions with half the league in the NCAA, the other half in the CFA.
Friday, it was left to Hallock to put aside the talk of principles, academic integrity and property rights to explain the essence of the problem.
"Seeing college sport come to this, a possible confrontation over a television contract, is upsetting," he said. "But, let's face it, you make your bed, you lie in it.
"This won't be the first time money, power and authority have influenced major decisions in sports."