Reforms don't make grade, coaches say

Care to guess what group was most irritated by the series of reforms rammed through last week's NCAA convention?

If you said basketball coaches, go to the head of the class, but don't take your college presidents with you.


The package of changes that were passed at the Nashville hoedown, which include a cut in scholarships, a reduction in coaching positions, new limits on recruiting and shortened schedules have been almost universally condemned by the coaching fraternity as attempts by university presidents to save money rather than effect true reform.

"I'm surprised more people aren't laughing," said Dean Smith of North Carolina. "Let's quit calling them reforms. They [university presidents] are just trying to save money. Obviously, presidents and chancellors don't have the time to know all parts of their universities."


"It's revenue reform. It's not academic reform," said Maryland's Gary Williams.

Although most coaches have found fault with most aspects of the legislation, the loss of a coaching position has drawn sharp fire.

"I can find fault with the cutback of staff," said Norm Stewart of Missouri. "I got on at Missouri after I had been cut from a team. If the rules had been in effect, I might not be here."

"When you look at what basketball coaches are being asked to do, we're being asked to take on more responsibility," said Dave Odom of Wake Forest. "To cut a staff member spreads you so thin that you won't be able to do what is necessary."

Likewise, the reduction in scholarships from 15 to 13 came in for attack.

"You're taking away opportunities for kids," said Roy Williams, head coach at Kansas. "I think we can cut costs without having to cut opportunities."

"When are the reductions going to stop?" said Oklahoma coach Billy Tubbs. "I was here when they reduced from 20 down to 18, then to 15. Now, it's down to 13. And what's next? 10? You say it's not going to happen, but it will."

Tubbs was angry enough to suggest that some member schools would eventually leave the NCAA in protest of the reforms and that whatever was left of the NCAA eventually would go the way of the Ivy League, where member schools don't offer athletic scholarships, but rather grants based on financial need.


Williams, a former assistant to Smith, said basketball, the chief money maker at most schools, had been hurt by the reforms, while football had come out relatively unscathed.

"I'd like to find out who does the lobbying for football coaches," said Williams. "We as basketball coaches lost a lot. A lot of those football coaches end up as athletic directors. So maybe we need to end up that way."

* A GAME FOR THE AGES: Because the Atlantic Coast Conference's contract with Jefferson Pilot forbids duplication of coverage, tonight's North Carolina State-North Carolina game will be blacked out on ESPN for a women's game.

But what a game it was. Fans in the ACC area will get to see a tape of arguably the greatest women's game in conference history as top-ranked Virginia turned back fourth-ranked N.C. State 123-120 in triple overtime Saturday in Raleigh, before 11,200, the largest crowd in ACC women's history.

Virginia senior Tonya Cardoza decided the contest, the highest scoring game in women's NCAA history, with 2.5 seconds left in the third overtime, when she stole a pass, drove the length of the floor and hit a layup.

Her Cavaliers teammate, All-America guard Dawn Staley, recorded the first triple-double in ACC women's history, with 24 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists, helping Virginia make up a 20-point second-half deficit.


"If people aren't turned on to women's basketball after that game, then they aren't sports fans, period," said Virginia coach Debbie Ryan. "I think the statement we made was, 'We've arrived and we deserve television coverage and coverage by the media in general.' "

* PERSIAN GULF UPDATE: So far, there are no plans to alter schedules because of events in the Persian Gulf, though it would be hoped that university officials would exhibit more common sense than the NFL or the television networks did last weekend during the playoffs.

"You have to take precautions, but you can't be paranoid as a country," said Gary Williams. "We have to stay tough as a country. I just hope that they don't fight."

* FEARLESS PROGNOSTICATOR RIDES AGAIN: So the Fearless Prognosticator missed with his pick of Maryland over Duke? Who would figure that Walt Williams would break his leg trying to hold up old FP's reputation?

Beaten but unbowed, FP treads into Big East country for this week's pick. Look for Seton Hall to march into the Carrier Dome and knock off vastly overrated Syracuse Saturday night.