NASHVILLE, JAN. 10 -- The NCAA's membership today put the finishing touches on a broad package of reform legislation, then adjourned its 85th annual convention a half-day earlier than scheduled.

Legislation passed prohibiting schools that play Division I basketball from playing football on a Division II or Division III level after 1992. But Georgetown University's football program and about 35 others like it probably were saved when the members also approved a resolution directing the development of a proposal for next year's convention that would create a Division I-AAA football classification.

"I'm very comfortable that I-AAA football will enable us to continue to play football at the level of financial commitment we presently have, and continue to play against the opponents that we now compete against," Georgetown Athletic Director Frank Rienzo said. "All this does is deprive us of any opportunity to compete in a national championship," which Division III has.

Traditionally that has not been much of a concern for Georgetown. But without the creation of an appropriate I-AAA football classification, the school will have to make a multimillion-dollar step up to Division I-AA status or drop the sport. In that case, Georgetown probably would drop football, Rienzo said.

In other major actions today, the members voted to:Give the big-time football schools that compose Division I-A a degree of autonomy in voting on financial aid issues starting in Aug. 1993 that could open the door to stipends for Division I student-athletes. That is not viewed as likely in the near future.Direct the development of a proposal for next year's convention that would allow student-athletes to enter a professional draft without immediately forfeiting their future eligibility in that sport.Require prospects to take the PSAT, SAT or ACT before accepting a paid recruiting visit to a school, effective Aug. 1992.Continue allowing student-athletes to remain eligible to compete in one sport while playing professionally in another.Direct the development of proposals for next year's convention regarding requirements for freshman eligibility and continuing eligibility.

That last issue relates to the so-called Proposition 48 requirements, which have been in effect since 1986-87, and other issues concerning progress toward a degree. Those are among the stickiest issues on the road to reform. The delegates got a taste of what promises to be extremely contentious debate, when Rienzo and others rose to question the wording of this year's resolution.

It directs the NCAA's Academic Requirements Committee to review academic performance data that has been compiled for the years 1984-85 to '88-89 and recommend legislation to "strengthen" the requirements for freshman eligibility and continuing eligibility.

That concerned those who believed the resolution mandated a toughening of requirements, regardless of what the data showed. And it is possible the data will show that the 700 score on the SAT or 18 on the ACT is not too low a standard for freshman eligibility, but rather one that is not useful in predicting academic success.

The voicing of those concerns prompted Academic Requirements Committee Chair Lorna Straus of the University of Chicago to take the floor and say that the committee did not feel it was being told what to do and would act in "good faith."

Good faith also was a key term when it came to allowing the big-time football schools that compose Division I-A the opportunity to increase the amount of financial aid for all Division I student-athletes. As part of the restructuring activity taking place here, that opportunity came after an initial vote on the legislation failed. But after some lobbying, there was a vote to reconsider. The measure then passed when 55 votes changed sides.

"Maybe it is the time to trust them {the I-A schools} not to do something too radical with the mood being cost constraint," said George Washington University Athletic Director Steve Bilsky, whose school could get swept along if something radical does happen. He voted against the proposal twice.

The legislation will allow the Division I-A schools, which generally have the greatest financial resources, to take a separate vote on a financial aid rule and then have it go into effect for all Division I schools. A majority vote of all the Division I schools could subsequently overturn such a rule, but there is a chance the Division I-A schools could obtain a financial edge in recruiting by increasing the amount of financial aid any Division I school can give.

"They might be able to outbid us for blue-chip kids," De Paul Athletic Director Bill Bradshaw said.

What seems most likely to happen is that the Division I-A schools may vote to allow all Division I schools to offer athletic financial aid packages that come closer to covering the total actual cost of attending school, rather than covering only tuition, books, room and board, as NCAA rules currently state.

"There isn't any conversation on stipends," NCAA Executive Director Dick Schultz said. "They just can't afford to do it."

MAJOR NCAA ACTIONS

Prohibited Division I schools from playing Division II or Division III football and Division II schools from playing Division III football after 1992.

Directed the development of a proposal for next year's convention that would establish a Division I-AAA football classification.

Gave football schools that compose Division I-A a degree of autonomy in voting on financial aid issues starting in August 1993.

Directed the development of a proposal for next year's convention that would allow student-athletes to enter a pro draft without forfeiting future eligibility in that sport.