Members of the College Football Association are expected to again postpone voting on a television contract with NBC Friday, at least delaying a confrontation with the NCAA.
The 61 CFA schools, most of them football powers, tentatively approved a four-year, $180 million contract with the network Aug. 21 by a 33-20 vote. Earlier, the NCAA had threatened to take punitive action against the CFA schools if that vote were confirmed. Since the August vote, the NCAA has agreed to hold a special convention Dec. 3 and 4 to discuss realignment of its three divisions. The CFA is expected to meet Dec. 6.
Because the CFA's desire for realignment was behind its rejection this summer of the NCAA's new four-year, $263 million contract with ABC and CBS, members are expected to postpone any final decisions until their next meeting.
"This kind of meeting will give everyone a chance to line up, talk about their problems and make clear what they think the issues are," Notre Dame Athletic Director Gene Corrigan said today. "I think it's time we stopped being afraid to label a super division as being just that. We need to admit the need for it and we need to admit the name."
The CFA members will go along with the NCAA TV contract if the special convention produces the 70-member super division which they have been pushing since 1977. But if that meeting does not produce realignment, the CFA may pull out of the NCAA contract and go with NBC.
Although the NCAA has maintained that it has sole negotiating rights for its member schools, the NCAA's planned St. Louis meeting is obviously a conciliatory step.
"I think all of us want to see what will happen in St. Louis before we make any kind of commitment one way or the other," said Corrigan. "If we get the realignment, then I think we'll go with the NCAA because that is the issue here. If not, then you may see the start of a new and different organization outside the NCAA."
Notre Dame is considered a key school by the CFA because of its pull in the ratings. Notre Dame will send a letter to both the NCAA and the CFA Friday explaining that it is not voting on either contract right now. Most other schools are expected to go the same route.
"If there were a vote, I don't think the contract would be approved," Corrigan said. "Most everyone would like to avoid a confrontation."
Originally, the NCAA was expected to begin disciplinary procedures almost immediately if the CFA approved its contract Friday. Now that confrontation appears to have been avoided at least until the Dec. 6 meeting that probably will decide the path of college football for many years.
Meanwhile, in Oklahoma City, NCAA attorney Richard Andrews told U.S. District Judge Luther Eubanks that no action will be taken against schools approving the CFA-NBC contract until the NCAA holds its special convention in December. The universities of Oklahoma and Georgia are seeking a ruling on the issue of ownership of property rights for a college's televised football games.