Barring a miraculous turnaround over the weekend, the College Football Association will not be able to get enough universities to commit to its contract with NBC-TV to make the contract viable.
The deadline for colleges to commit to the four-year, $180 million package is Monday. As of today, sources within the CFA report that a maximum of 28 schools will agree to the NBC contract. That would mean that supporters of the contract would be in the minority in the 61-school CFA. It also means, according to sources at NBC, that the network will probably execute its option to cancel the contract.
"They just don't have enough schools right now," an NBC source said. "We're all sitting around here looking at it as a dead issue. About the only way it might change is if Notre Dame got involved."
That, apparently, will not happen. Although the Rev. Edmund P. Joyce, the chief administrator of Notre Dame's athletic program, has been in China all week, Athletic Director Eugene Corrigan has reportedly contacted him to recommend that Notre Dame stay away from the CFA deal.
Charles M. Neinas, executive director of the CFA and the man who led the organization's television effort, declined to comment today on the specifics of the situation, but seemed to be readying a concession speech.
"I would hope that CFA members are aware of the ramifications of agenda item 47 (which gives the NCAA control over TV contracts) at the convention," Neinas said. "And I would hope that they are aware that the CFA's involvement in television has benefited all CFA members regardless of what happens with the NBC contract. We have gotten more appearances into the NCAA contract and probably will have minimum appearances in the new contract, too. That is progress."
But it is not the progress CFA members were hoping for last week, when five of the football powers urged fellow members to sign the NBC contract.
The CFA signed the contract with NBC last August after the NCAA had negotiated a new four-year contract with ABC and CBS. The contract was signed as a lever to force the NCAA to reorganize. It did in St. Louis, paring Division I-A football from 137 schools to between 95 and 100 schools for next fall.
But after that meeting, many CFA members said that was not enough and, led by the five schools and Neinas, vowed to go with NBC. But by not even getting a majority of schools to commit to the contract, the CFA is now back where it was in August -- forced to go to court on the TV issue and still chafing at the NCAA's controls, which it considers too tight, even with the reorganization.