The number of men's basketball scholarships an NCAA Division I school is allowed to offer annually would be tied to its four-year graduation rate under recommendations made yesterday by a special NCAA committee studying basketball-related issues. In addition, the panel recommended that freshman men's and women's basketball players be required to pass at least 12 credit hours with at least a "C" average during their first semester to remain eligible for competition.
The 29-member Division I Working Group to Study Basketball Issues also recommended that the NCAA allow men's and women's basketball players who do not meet the association's freshman-eligibility standards to receive athletic scholarships as freshmen.
The proposals, which must be approved by at least two NCAA rules-making panels, stopped short of more radical measures such as declaring all freshmen ineligible and eliminating summer recruiting.
"We . . . wanted solutions that will work and be supported by our constituents," said Syracuse Chancellor Kenneth Shaw, the special committee's chair. "And those solutions have to work in perhaps the most litigious environment we have ever experienced in higher education and intercollegiate athletics."
Shaw said the Division I Board of Directors, a panel of presidents that makes the rules for schools in the NCAA's top competitive group, will be asked to approve the special committee's recommendations as a package at its quarterly meeting next month and then send them to the Division I Management Council, a panel of athletic administrators, to finish rewriting the rules. Shaw said he hopes the board will give final approval to the changes in January.
The men's basketball scholarship limit for all schools currently is 13. If the special committee's proposal in this area is implemented, a school would be allowed 14 scholarships if at least 75 percent of the men's basketball players who had entered school four years earlier had graduated. A school would have 13 scholarships if the rate was between 33 and 74 percent and 12 if the graduation rate was under 33 percent.
Players who transfer or turn pro while in good academic standing will not count against a school's graduation rate. (The overall athlete graduation rates schools must compile annually are based on a six-year period, and players who transfer are counted against their initial school's graduation rate.)
The proposal to award scholarships to basketball players who currently do not qualify academically for them helps address an issue a federal judge in Philadelphia cited earlier this year in striking down the NCAA's current freshman-eligibility requirements. The judge said the way the NCAA uses standardized-test scores in its criteria is racially biased. The NCAA is considering changes in the rules while the decision is being appealed and the current rules remain in place.
The recommendations also would:
Eliminate all tournaments during the academic year not run directly by a high school or junior college. Such a rule would end the Charlie Weber AAU tournament staged every September at the University of Maryland. Weber said organizers of such events are prepared "to fight it."
Stiffen penalties for players involved in gambling; allow athletic scholarships for incoming freshmen to take six hours in summer school; reduce the number of recruiting days for coaches during the summer and add those days to the academic year; increase NCAA oversight over summer camps and summer and school-year tournaments.