NCAA delegates overwhelmingly gave the nation's major football schools limited self-rule today, and they banned the distribution of most complimentary tickets to athletes, thereby eliminating one of the most-abused rules.
Under a rule proposed by the Southwest Conference, the names of athletes, their relatives and friends at the same school will be left on a gate list, except at conference basketball tournaments, for which "hard" tickets will be issued. In almost all recent major football infractions cases, the sale of complimentary tickets for more than face value was a common violation.
On a day a decision to implement a drug-testing program at NCAA championships and selected bowl games was delayed at least until this summer and spot checks by the NCAA of academic records was defeated, the latest version of Division I-A autonomy was not the divisive issue it has been since the 1978 convention.
In a compromise reached last fall with the other segments of the 284-school division, passage was virtually assured. The 105 major football schools will have self-rule immediately in all areas except championship events, financial aid and basketball.
In addition, in an unprecedented move, delegates passed a rule allowing proposals in bylaws pertaining to a specific division to be voted on at division round tables, thus streamlining procedures and giving each division more autonomy.
But the first of two voting days at the NCAA's annual convention also resulted in a major setback for self-rule proponents, as Division II, in effect, vetoed a proposal that would have let Division I members set the amount of a scholarship in its division.
Big Eight Commissioner Carl James described as "a first step" the degree of autonomy achieved today. Capt. J.O. (Bo) Coppedge, Navy's athletic director, said, "Autonomy is one of the most overrated things. I don't think it has that much effect . . . . There is no one subject that everybody's dying to change."
"Because of the (NCAA rules) structure, we're not sure of how much voting autonomy we have," said William Baugh, interim president at the University of Colorado. "We don't know what the practical impact will be."
In addition, a "flawed" proposal to implement the drug-testing program was referred to the NCAA Council for further study and refinement.
The referral motion by council member Wilford Bailey, faculty representative from Auburn, drew cheers from many of the 1,603 delegates in the packed Presidential Ballroom at the Opryland Hotel. "It is flawed," Bailey said, noting that a refined version could be considered as early as at a special convention, June 20-21 in New Orleans.
At round-table discussions Monday, delegates in all divisions had raised legal and moral questions concerning the list of drugs, why some common street drugs were excluded, the role of the team doctor and why drugs prescribed by a physician for medical reasons were banned. These objections left only one question to be answered today: whether the proposal would be voted down or put off.
The year-old President's Commission called the summer convention to address the issues of institutional integrity and finances.
Most of the economic proposals considered today -- such as increasing Pell grants (federal subsidies) by $500 and allowing $50 expense money monthly -- were defeated. Delegates said this occured in part because of austerity in the wake of the Supreme Court decision deregulating televising of college football and also because many delegates -- especially those in Divisions II and III -- considered such proposals premature before the President's Commission made its recommendations.
In the day's most heated debate, the one major economic proposal that was passed reduced the number of required sports from eight to six each for men and women in Division I. Then, Division I-A, comprised of the 105 major football schools, voted to keep the minimum at eight within their subdivision. Later, a proposal was passed to eliminate the 70-scholarship equivalency cap on sports other than football and basketball.
The convention passed a resolution calling for the NCAA Council and President's Commission, with input from all concerned parties, to make recommendations by Oct. 15 for modification of what NCAA President John Toner calls "the infamous Proposition 48." Passed two years ago in San Diego, it sets test-score minimums as a criteria for initial eligiblity, a provision called discriminatory by many leading black educators and officials.