The NCAA convention that met here last week affirmed tougher eligibility standards, approved mandatory drug testing for championship events and bowl games and declined to increase the value of a scholarship.
All in all, a high school senior might conclude that the NCAA doesn't like him or her very much. Walter Byers, the NCAA executive director, disagreed strongly with that assessment as the record turnout of more than 1,800 delegates departed for home.
"This convention has done a great service to the high school student," Byers said. "If I still had a boy in high school who wanted to be an athlete, as a parent, I'd commend the NCAA.
"Because of the competitive pressure and peer pressure, the high school athlete is being encouraged, if you will, to get into drugs. He and she needs the kind of a signal that the NCAA sent."
Byers predicted that drug testing will break the chain of use of anabolic steroids, which he says high school athletes use to enhance their chances for a college scholarship and collegians use to enhance their chances at a pro contract. The proposal approved here Tuesday includes other performance enhancers and street drugs.
"We're taking a leadership role in dealing with a problem that is greater than most of us realize," Byers said. A recent NCAA survey of 2,000 athletes showed 36 percent had used marijuana or hashish and 17 percent had used cocaine.
On the academic front, Byers said the NCAA needed both key parts of Proposition 48 -- minimum scores on standardized tests and a 2.0 grade-point average in a core curriculum of 11 academic courses -- because high schools have inflated the grades of athletes. Leaders of predominantly black schools have criticized the standardized testing as racist.
Proposition 48 was modified slightly here, allowing a three-year phase-in with indexing. This flexibility allows a lower SAT (minimum 660) to be offset by a 2.2 grade-point average for this year's recruits.
"It's my own view that the marginal high school student too often is passed through the high school because of athletic prowess and the desire to see him get a college grant-in-aid," Byers said. "So they do not want to impair his chance to go to college.
"In that process, that does a disservice to that young person. It shortchanges him at the high school level and when he comes to college, he gets shortchanged because he is put in courses which enable him to be eligible but really don't advance his educational ambition. If he doesn't have educational ambition, it's because he hasn't been pointed in the right way.
"I tell you the action of Bylaw 5-1-(j) as Proposition 48 is formally called will encourage the high schools to stop the exploitation of that kind of marginal student."
Based on 1977 and 1982 data of incoming black male athletes, about 2,000 black males could be disqualified from playing as freshmen in the upcoming academic years when Proposition 48 goes into effect. At the University of Minnesota, football recruiters said they already have scratched nine prospects -- all black -- off their list because "they won't be able to get into school" with Proposition 48.
Meanwhile, black leaders continued to informally discuss ways of overturning Proposition 48 and will meet formally within a month, according to Sam Myers, president of the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education.
"They have won a short-term victory, but the issue of Proposition 48 is by no means resolved," Myers said. "We are carefully looking at litigation."
Besides academics and drug testing, Byers also cited a major accomplishment in the NCAA's effort to combat illegal gambling on intercollegiate sports events.
Delegates passed a resolution pledging the membership's full support to Congressional efforts to pass legislation banning gambling in all amateur sports.