NCAA compromises will benefit area schools in Division I


NASHVILLE -- The have-nots of Division I athletics scored a victory over the haves at the 85th annual NCAA Convention today.

The restructuring debate was resolved in favor of smaller, less-visible institutions whose status in Division I would have been endangered if scholarship minimums for sports other than football and basketball were installed. Minimums mandated by Proposal 46 were approved, but not before they were watered down by two amendments.

Proposal 46 was passed by a 175-149 margin, and technically Division I members would have to fund anywhere from 19-25 scholarships each for men's and women's non-revenue sports. In those two areas, a school like Coppin State, for example, is funding a total of 13 scholarships this year.

One amendment, however, would allow schools like Coppin State, whose athletes receive a high percentage of need-based aid in the form of Pell Grants, to have those moneys included in the bookkeeping formula.

Another amendment, sponsored by Loyola's conference, the Metro Atlantic, would count all financial aid, not just athletically-related scholarships.

Without the amendments, Coppin State, Morgan State and Maryland-Eastern Shore, and the six other members of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference all would have had to make substantial increases in scholarship costs. Several members of the MAAC, Loyola's conference, would have been in a similar situation, and their status in Division I would have been in doubt.

"This is a great victory for those schools that wish to keep academics part of athletics," said Rich Ensor, commissioner of the MAAC. "Because of the amendments, you're not going to see any schools drop out of Division I because of the scholarship minimums we just adopted. It's a great victory for those who want to keep Division I from becoming a minor league for the NFL and NBA."

Ron DeSouza, athletic director at Coppin State, said counting need-based aid in the scholarship formula "gives us a better chance to stay in Division I."

"Proposal 46 is a little more palatable with the amendments than it would have been without them," said Hallie Gregory, the athletic director at UMES. "It still blows my mind that when we're here to talk about cost reduction, some of us are being asked to spend more."

Two state presidents, William P. Hytche of UMES and Towson State's Hoke L. Smith, spoke on the floor against Proposal 46 and its scholarship minimums.

Coppin State, Morgan State and UMES will all be affected by Proposal 45, which adressed two issues in the area of sports sponsorship. Legislation counting indoor and outdoor track and field as one sport was defeated, but legislation that would require Division I members to sponsor seven men's sports and seven women's passed by a margin of 180-147.

The current minimums are six for both genders, and the three institutions will have to add one women's sport by the 1993-94 school year to meet the new requirement. Coppin State's DeSouza and Morgan State's Leonard Braxton have explored adding swimming for both men and women, and Gregory of UMES said the Hawks are ready to elevate softball from club to varsity status.

The debate on restructuring Division I and tightening requirements for membership in the big-money division began yesterday with the passage of Proposal 44. By 1991-92, members would have to play other Division I foes in 100 percent of the minimum number of contests required.

The limit for a baseball team, for example, is 25 games, and a Coppin State would have to play at least that many against Division I foes.

Loyola and the rest of the MAAC, which includes several New York schools which rely on Division III competition in non-revenue sports, campaigned against Proposal 44. In the Greyhounds' two-tier system of sports, its non-scholarship teams like swimming and cross country will now have to cut back on the number of smaller schools they schedule.

"It's going to mean some adjustment for our swimming, tennis and cross country teams, and that equates to more travel and more money," said James Smith, Loyola's interim athletic director.

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