The 59 Division I member schools of the Eastern College Athletic Conference will meet this morning to discuss an NCAA Council proposal that would reduce many prominent basketball schools to Division II status.
Those schools -- without Division I-A or I-AA football programs -- could include American, George Washington, George Mason, Seton Hall and Hofstra, among others.
More than 40 of the 277 Division I basketball programs nationwide could be downgraded if the proposal is adopted without alteration at the NCAA meetings in January, including powers Georgetown and De Paul.
The council, the NCAA's policy-making body, is headed by representatives from major football power schools. They proposed in a meeting in Kansas City that, to maintain Division I status, schools be required to have had an average attendence of 3,500 at basketball games over the last four years, or a total attendence of 110,000 in each of the last four years. Also, the council said, schools should be required to have eight men's varsity sports and offer at least 50 percent of the maximum number of scholarships allowed by the NCAA.
It is this second proposal which, if left unchanged, would technically drop Georgetown, De Paul and Bradley, among others, from Division I.
Georgetown, according to Bob Frailey, president of the ECAC and director of athletics at AU, does not offer 50 percent of the NCAA's maximum number of scholarships. But the council already has modified its proposal once (so it would not have to keep from downgrading schools like Marquette, which won the national championship in 1977), and conceivably will do so again.
"It borders on being ridiculous," Frailey said. "There's not a rhyme or reason to it. It's just greed" on the part of the football powers.
Most of the basketball programs affected would be at eastern schools, many of which dropped football years ago because it was too costly.
Frailey said he doesn't think it is a coincidence that this year's NCAA convention will be held in San Diego. The trip is too expensive for many representatives from small eastern schools to make and would reduce their voting power.
American, which plays its games in Fort Myer, seating under 3,500, could meet the attendance requirement by playing more doubleheaders with schools like Georgetown, which could average 15,000 this year. In case of a doubleheader that drew 15,000, the NCAA would halve that number for AU's official attendance.
Frailey will attend today's ECAC meeting, trying to build opposition support. He said he was "worried that they (the football powers) have enough votes to pass the thing. They've got enough votes to get rid of us. But there are a lot of people who will be very vociferous in opposition."