NCAA proposes rules changes

Published: Monday, January 9, 2006 at 12:05 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 9, 2006 at 12:05 p.m.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The NCAA would scrap a rule prohibiting men's and women's basketball teams from playing in more than two exempt tournaments in a four-year period under a compromise reached Sunday by the Division I Management Council.

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NCAA Division I Vice President David Berst discusses NCAA business during a news conference at the NCAA Convention in Indianapolis, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2006.

AP Photo/Tom Strattman

The proposal, one of about 140 heard during the NCAA convention, will be sent to member schools and conferences for comment before it is considered again in April, when the council will make its recommendation to the board of directors, said David Berst, NCAA Division I vice president.

Under the plan, the two-in-four rule would be eliminated and schools would be allowed to participate in an event each year, but in the same event only once in four years.

It also would designate the second Friday in November as the common start date for events and the regular season. The total number of regular-season games would remain at 28, but participation in an exempt tournament _ such as the Preseason NIT _ would count as only one game.

In March, the NCAA bought the rights to the preseason and postseason NITs as part of a settlement that ended a four-year legal battle.

"We're now in a position where we can go forward on legislation to address the season," Berst said. "What the Management Council decided to do was simply avoid talking about those pieces of legislation and took up a separate proposal. ... It was something of a compromise proposal that we've developed over time to address the various issues we've encountered in the court cases."

The council passed almost 50 other proposals, defeated about 35 and deferred action on the rest until its April meeting.

Among those approved and forwarded to the board of directors was one to change the beginning and ending dates for baseball and keep the maximum number of regular-season games at 56 instead of cutting it to 52.

A proposal to allow five seasons of football eligibility during a player's initial five-year enrollment was withdrawn, and the number of recruiting person-days in women's basketball was kept at 85 after votes on proposals to increase it to 105 and 130 were defeated.

Earlier Sunday, the head of the NCAA's Committee on Academic Performance said football, baseball and men's basketball appear to be the Division I sports in greatest jeopardy of NCAA sanctions when the governing body releases an academic progress report next month.

Sports failing to meet NCAA standards for eligibility and progress toward graduation could lose scholarships for one year under the academic reform package approved by the NCAA two years ago.

Walter Harrison, chairman of academic performance, said about 55 percent of the member colleges and universities have completed the reporting. The remaining 45 percent are still requesting adjustments or waivers, and "we're granting many more than we're denying."

The NCAA last month released its findings on graduation rates, and it reported 76 percent of Division I athletes who entered college in 1995-96 had graduated. The separate academic progress report, expected by late February, will be based on the number of athletes on each team who achieve eligibility and return to campus full time each term.

Colleges will be given yearly assessments. They will have the opportunity to explain unusual circumstances for a low progress rate and to appeal any penalties.

"There seems to be no significant problems in women's sports and nonrevenue sports," Harrison said during the NCAA convention. "Football, men's basketball and baseball seem to have the most penalties, but that should be no surprise."

He said individual schools that face penalties already have been notified, but they would not be identified until the complete progress rate list is finished.

The penalties will begin this year and will result in the loss of a scholarship for teams that fail to meet the standard. Harsher penalties, beginning in 2007-08, will be assessed for repeated academic failure. Those may include scholarship reductions, recruiting limitations and ineligibility for preseason or postseason competition. The most extreme cases could result in restricted NCAA membership.

The NCAA also said it wants more women and minorities in coaching and administrative positions. It has set up a task force to address a situation in which almost 90 percent of men's teams at the largest universities and almost 60 percent of women's teams were coached by white men. The statistics were from the 2003-04 school year, the most recent NCAA study.

The task force, appointed by NCAA president Myles Brand, also will look for ways to enable female coaches and administrators to better balance home and work responsibilities. Brand gave the group no timetable.

"We have not had a strategic road map with clear expectations for the membership," said Charlotte Westerhaus, NCAA vice president for diversity and inclusion and co-chairman of the task force.

The NCAA survey also showed 7.2 percent of male head coaches and 7.7 percent of female head coaches were black, compared with 24.6 percent of male athletes and 14.8 percent of female athletes. And, more than 30 years after the passage of Title IX legislation requiring gender equity in education, there were still more men coaching women's teams than women, Westerhaus said.

Among assistant coaches, she said, 16.4 percent of the men and 14.7 percent of the women were black. There were 243 male athletic directors, including nine blacks, and 19 female ADs, none black.

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