Today the lines were drawn. Friday the skirmishing begins. But after this afternoon's round-table session of the NCAA's special convention, one thing had become clear: this convention may be only the start of the fight between the football powers and the NCAA over restructuring and television rights.
There are 22 items on the agenda for Friday's business session of the convention, but only four will inspire much discussion. Two deal with restructuring. Two deal with TV rights.
A proposal to create a division for football powers, put forth by the Collegiate Football Association, is almost certain to be defeated. That leaves two restructuring possibilities. One, put forth by the Big Eight, would require a school to average at least 17,000 in home attendance to qualify for Division I-A. The second, proposed by the NCAA Council, is more likely to pass. It merely requires that a school average 20,000 in attendance home and away.
The first TV proposal would give individual schools control over rights to their games. The NCAA intends to have the proposal ruled out of order because it does not deal specifically with restructuring, which is the subject of this special convention. A two-thirds vote, required to overrule the NCAA, is unlikely.
The second TV proposal -- put forth by the NCAA Council -- would give each division its own TV advisory committee but would leave the actual negotiating with the NCAA television committee.
"Right now there are so many loopholes in both the restructuring and the TV proposals that the NCAA is sponsoring I don't know that they would have that much meaning if they passed," said Charles M. Neinas, director of the CFA. "We're going to meet right after the session tomorrow and I really can't predict what will happen."
The CFA -- which consists of 61 major football schools -- has accepted that its Division IV (superpower) proposal will not pass here. "It's an idea whose time has not come yet," Neinas said. It would settle for a compromise -- the Big Eight proposal. That does not seem likely to pass, either.
Much of the arguing was over the question of property rights and TV property rights. The NCAA does not want this brought up because most of the Division II and Division III schools are not here. They will be at the annual convention next month in Houston, however, and those schools are considered likely to side with the NCAA on the property rights question. Without them here, the CFA schools might win a vote on who controls TV property rights.
The CFA argued today that NCAA lawyers told an Oklahoma judge hearing a case brought by the University of Oklahoma against the NCAA that the question would be discussed here.
"The question of property rights has nothing to do with restructuring and that's what we're here to discuss," said NCAA President James Frank. "Perhaps that is splitting hairs, but it's true."