NASHVILLE, JAN. 8 -- The Mid-Eastern Athletic and Southwestern Athletic conferences' two-year quest for a postseason football championship game became reality today at the NCAA Convention when their fellow Division I-AA members voted to approve the Heritage Bowl.
Legislation permitting the game, which is being touted as a fund-raising vehicle for the historically black schools, failed at last year's convention. Today, it passed by a show of voting paddles, as the members decided the game was a worthwhile activity that would not give MEAC and SWAC schools competitive advantages in recruiting or on the field.
Howard University is a member of the MEAC.
The conference champions will be able to play the game in addition to 11 regular season games, and their participation will not exclude them from eligibility for the I-AA playoffs. Proceeds from the game are to be distributed among the conferences' schools and used primarily for academic scholarships. A portion of the money will go to the athletic programs.
Other details of the game will be worked out in the future, Howard faculty representative Sondra Norrell-Thomas said.Bowl Rules Changed
As expected, the big-time football schools that comprise Division I-A voted overwhelmingly to do away with the NCAA's rules concerning invitation dates for bowl games. So, for at least the 1991 season, the bid process will be governed under rules passed Monday by the Football Bowl Association (FBA).
Bowl games will not be allowed to issue formal or informal invitations until the third Sunday in November. Games violating that rule will be subject to a $250,000 fine.
Meanwhile, the NCAA Postseason Football Subcommittee has appointed a three-person panel to examine the possible use of a draft-style selection system.
"My feeling personally is that we should at least give it a year and hope the bowls self-impose, and selection restrictions can truly work," said Postseason Football Subcommittee Chair John Swofford, North Carolina's athletic director. "But we're going to go ahead in evaluating the pros and cons and particulars of the draft proceess."
Steve Hatchell, executive director of the Orange Bowl and chairman of the FBA, did not seem too worried about the potential for a draft. In addition, some antitrust concerns have been raised about such a system.
"Among the Division I people we've talked to, there doesn't seem to be a lot of sentiment for that," Hatchell said. "It's kind of fun to kick around, but there's no real reality to that."
Of greater concern to the bowls is their discussion about the Internal Revenue Service's interest in their nonprofit statuses and in possibly taxing the money they receive from corporate sponsors.More Money for ACC?
In other bowl developments, Swofford said he thinks that if the Atlantic Coast Conference is to extend its arrangement with the Florida Citrus Bowl beyond next season, the bowl will need to begin paying around $3 million per team -- a little more than double the current payout. He said the bowl has been seeking an additional sponsor for about a year, but he indicated the ACC is open to other offers.