Dick Dull, University of Maryland athletic director, said yesterday that college football spending is out of control and recommended a reduction in scholarships as one solution.
Dull said he favors reducing the number of football scholarships in Division I-A to 75 from its current limit of 95. Such a reduction would save the Maryland athletic department more than $100,000 annually, he said.
"The prevailing theory is that football and basketball produce a lot of money for schools, so football and basketball should spend every dime they make," Dull said. "Well, I disagree. We need to get a handle on football spending at the national level. Ninety-five scholarships for football is excessive, as far as I'm concerned. Seventy-five is more reasonable. Those 20 scholarships would save us approximately $5,000 each."
Dull said he had just received Maryland's scholarship bill for all men's and women's sports during the 1981-82 academic year. The bill totals slightly more than $1 million, an increase of approximately $300,000 from two years ago. At $5,000 per scholarship, almost half the money goes for football.
"Scholarship costs are just very out of line," Dull said. "It seems that there should be some changes made, and the smaller sports shouldn't always have to suffer. Just because football makes money doesn't mean we have to keep increasing spending for football."
Chuck Neinas, executive director of the College Football Association, of which Maryland is a member, doesn't think Dull's suggestion will get much support.
"This is the first time in some years I've heard someone talk about a significant reduction in football scholarships," Neinas said. "I suppose Dick is thinking that instead of always cutting sports like track and swimming, cut football instead.
"I'm interested in talking with Dick about it, but I think that a reduction of that sort in one fell swoop would be hard to get support for."
Dull said: "Quite honestly, a few more of us will have to go broke before any action is taken."
An NCAA official said many coaches at the big schools are interested in increasing the number to 100 or 110.
The CFA recently conducted a survey among its 60 member schools, which showed 56 percent favored some kind of increase in scholarships, according to Neinas. Under current NCAA rules (commonly called the 30-95 rule) Division I-A schools can offer no more than 30 initial scholarships per year, and have no more than 95 scholarships in effect at any one time.
Among the findings, the survey said that 27 percent preferred the 30 initial grants, but wanted the overall limit raised to 100. An additional 22 percent preferred an increase to 100, with five of those students retained only to continue academic pursuit. Another 22 percent favored the current rule, and 12 percent favored no overall limit, but a maximum of 25 initially.
Maryland Coach Bobby Ross said he wouldn't mind a reduction in the number of scholarships as long as such a measure was done nationally.
"I feel very comfortable the way things are," said Ross, "but I'm not the guy forced to raise the money either. If you ask 100 coaches in the nation, they'd all tell you that spending in college football has gotten out of hand. There are a lot of things to consider if you cut back to 75 scholarships, though. You'd have to do a tremendous job of keeping people healthy and improve the retention rate."