Members of the NCAA Council, meeting here to consider proposals to restructure Division I intercollegiate athletics, said today it is not their intention to demote basketball-oriented schools to Division II, but rather to ensure that those schools are similarly committed to a broad-based athletic philosophy.
But the Division I status of more than 40 schools that do not play Division I or I-A football remained unclear tonight. It appears compromises will be made to keep such basketball schools as Georgetown, De Paul, Villanova and Bradley in Division I, and another proposal will be considered Thursday that could keep other Washington-area schools such as American, George Washington and George Mason in Division I.
The council last month proposed requirements that would make schools without Division I football programs meet minimum basketball attendance and overall grant-in-aid figures to remain in Division I.
But several council members said all of those schools, in all likelihood, could keep their Division I status by making only a few improvements in smaller varsity sports for men. The NCAA would require that a school without Division I football grant at least half of the allowable 85 scholarships in sports other than basketball.
Such information on the Washington-area schools was not available tonight.
"It is my understanding that Georgetown would (keep Division I status) and so would De Paul," said Jack Davis of Oregon State, a council member.
John Toner, a council member and athletic director at Connecticut, said he will propose Thursday an exception clause for those basketball-oriented schools that may not meet the requirements but are part of major conferences in which the majority of schools do meet the requirements.
Such an exception, should the council members accept it -- which it appears they will -- probably would keep American, GW and George Mason in Division I. No one could say for sure tonight. Nor could anyone say for sure how the NCAA would determine what constitutes a major conference.
Toner said by his unofficial survey of the 88 schools affected by the council proposals, 26 already meet the critera and another 18 are marginal. "The balance," Toner said, "probably won't make it.
"We're not trying to kick schools out of Division I," Toner said. "We're just trying to complete a process that was started nearly 10 years ago to have a concept of homogeneous grouping."
The NCAA Council, which consists of 20 members plus the NCAA officers, has proposed the following plan:
A school that doesn't have a Division I-A or I-AA football program must have had an average home paid attendance of 3,500 fans or a total of 110,000 fans per season for the last four years. It also must have at least eight men's varsity sports, and offer at least 50 percent of the maximum number of scholarships allowed by the NCAA.
Schools without Division I-A or I-AA football programs usually have a maximum of 85 scholarships, meaning they would have to offer at least 42.5 scholarships to remain in Division I.
The scholarship requirement may be modified to read, "50 percent of the maximum or equivalent cash outlay." That could possibly help some private schools.