NASHVILLE, JAN. 7 -- One day before the NCAA's big-time football schools will vote whether to abolish rules governing invitation dates for bowl games, the officials who conduct those games today unanimously voted to set their own invitation date and establish a $250,000 fine for bowls that extend formal or informal invitations before that date.

In a rule that will go into effect only if Division I-A schools vote Tuesday to abolish the current NCAA regulations, bowl games will not be allowed to issue formal or informal invitations until the third Sunday in November.

Next season, that date would be Nov. 17 -- just about the same date that would be in effect if the Division I-A schools choose to keep the current system. Under that system, agreements are not supposed to be made until the Saturday following the third Tuesday in November. Current rules also provide for fines to bowls that make premature offers but the penalty has proven no deterrent.

"I think everybody feels that the destiny of this is in our hands," said Steve Hatchell, executive director of the Orange Bowl and chairman of the Football Bowl Association. "This will go a long way toward putting a little fiber and a little steel in a good system that we can make better."

Chuck Johnson of the Fiesta Bowl said the association may discuss using an independent auditor for enforcement, but Hatchell said the system basically would be self-enforced.

"The feeling within this group is that people know when conversations take place and when situations are established," Hatchell said. "These are smart people and communicate at a very high level. Within the industry, we all know when things go on."

Oklahoma Athletic Director Donnie Duncan said he was cautiously optimistic about the bowls' system, the details of which would be finalized in mid-April when the association and the NCAA Postseason Football Subcommittee hold their annual meetings.