The College Football Association announced yesterday an eight-day extension of its deadline, originally set for midnight tonight, for member schools to declare themselves in or out of a controversial $180 million, four-year television football package with NBC.
The CFA acted less than 24 hours after obtaining preliminary restraining orders from courts in Texas and Oklahoma barring the National Collegiate Athletic Association from coercing CFA members to opt out of the NBC football package. The NCAA has negotiated a conflicting $263.5 million television package with ABC and CBS.
The extension will "enable additional material to be disseminated to the CFA membership for study and review . . . some of the questions raised by the CFA membership as a result of the NCAA's continued threat of sanctions could be answered as a result of the recent legal actions," the CFA said in announcing the deadline postponement.
Hearings were set for Sept. 17 in U.S. District Court in Oklahoma City and on Sept. 18 in a state court in Austin, Tex., for the NCAA to show cause why a temporary injunction should not be issued prohibiting further coercion against CFA members. The court orders are being sought by the universities of Texas, Oklahoma and Georgia.
The NCAA previously had threatened sanctions, including probation and expulsion, for any school that picked the CFA football package over the one negotiated by the NCAA. Charles M. Neinas, CFA executive director, said in an affidavit filed with the lawsuit that he knows of at least 10 schools who are concerned that opting in favor of the CFA package will bring retaliation from the NCAA.
The NCAA Council voted Tuesday to call a special convention for the week of Dec. 6 to discuss reorganization of its top division. CFA members, who include most of the nation's major football powers, have long requested such a reorganization, saying they are a minority in general NCAA membership and are consistently being outvoted.
The Big Eight Athletic Conference, which had formally requested such a convention before choosing between either of the television packages, reaffirmed yesterday a policy statement urging its members not to declare for either package until the NCAA membership acts on the reorganization issue.
Officials of the Southeastern Conference discussed the matter in a conference telephone call and decided to hold another conference call on Sept. 17. The Atlantic Coast Conference scheduled meetings yesterday and today.