Momentum continued building today at the 77th annual NCAA convention to support a proposal that would require a minimum test score and a 2.0 average on a core curriculum in high school for an athlete to receive a scholarship or to be eligible for competition as a freshman.
Bob Atwell, a vice president of the American Council on Education, whose ad hoc committee on athletics has supported the proposal, said that his group's latest poll of college presidents and chancellors shows that the proposal has the 157 votes necessary for it to be approved for Division I.
Passing a proposal that would include both a minimum test score and a 2.0 core-curriculum average was not considered possible until recently. The general thinking had been that proposals for a core curriculum and for setting up standards for progress toward a degree would be the most likely measures to pass in voting Tuesday and Wednesday on 132 proposals.
But, as Jim Frank, the outgoing president of the NCAA, said Friday, the mood is right for the convention to pass the proposal, including both tests scores (700 total on the SAT, or 15 on the ACT) and core curriculum. The proposal would only be applicable to Division I schools.
The I-A schools--the major football schools in Division I--apparently favor both minimum test scores and a 2.0 average on a core curriculum. A straw poll in a meeting of the Collegiate Commissioner's Association, whose membership includes only I-A football leagues, showed no opposition to the proposal to require both test scores and a minimum core-curriculum average, although some conferences did not state a position. The I-AA schools--the rest of the football-playing schools in Division I--showed no opposition toward a core curriculum and for setting standards toward a degree, according to Jim Delany, commissioner of the I-AA Ohio Valley Conference.
"It's upbeat," said Bob Aaron, a spokesman for the American Council on Education. "No one thinks it will be easy, but the time is right (because of recent academic scandals)."
Representatives of the ACE and some of the presidents and chancellors here are lobbying delegates on the issue and also are planning to ask for a roll-call vote. They think that no college chief operating executive could afford to vote against the proposal if his school is listed on the record as being against it.
Meanwhile, opponents of a proposal that includes a basketball attendance requirement for schools that do not play Division I football in order to retain Division I status, said they have 165-180 solid votes to defeat it. Although Frank and other NCAA officials are practically admitting defeat, the opponents continued to meet today to assure their votes remain in place.
Late today, John Toner, athletic director at the University of Connecticut and president-nominate of the NCAA, said the council had approved an amendment that would no longer make the attendance criteria retroactive. But he said that it should not make a difference in the final vote and was done "in a sense of doing what is fair and showing that the council is listening to the concerns of the membership."
Some observers here say that if the other significant proposals on Division I restructuring pass, the major football schools would have gained enough strength on the NCAA Council's executive committee and television committee so that dropping 35 to 45 schools from Division I would not matter to them politically.
In other developments, the proposal to add a 12th football game for Division I apparently has little support; the NCAA Council late today gave the Mid-American Conference two waivers that would enable it to become I-A immediately, pending expected approval by the classification committee, and the men's Division I basketball committee has decided to seed all 52 teams in this year's tournament and then have lowest eight play four preliminary-round games to reach the main draw of 48.