Is NCAA certification another attempt to force out the fringe members of Division I?
The 87th annual NCAA convention opened for business last night in Dallas, and the major proposal on a rather bland agenda would set up a system of certification that mirrors the accreditation process undergone by academic departments.
The certification proposal, which is expected to be approved, would require colleges to conduct a self-study and then be inspected by a peer review team. The idea is to see if Division I members are following the NCAA Manual, which is approaching the size of the Manhattan phone book.
The measure will require a paper trail from athletic departments, from the time a high schooler's credentials were checked to the in-house measures taken when a college thinks it might have committed an NCAA violation.
"This will just put more stress upon institutions," said Hallie Gregory, the athletic director at UMES, where most of his employees wear two or more hats. "We're a small institution, and the president keeps tabs on the athletic department. The NCAA is always talking about cost containment, but this is going to cost money [nearly $10,000]."
At the end of the process, the penalty for not being certified is relegation to "corresponding" status. That means Division I colleges would lose out on the money the NCAA distributes from the basketball tournament through conferences, a reason most moved up to Division I to begin with.
Stepping up in class
Johns Hopkins swimming steps up in class today and tomorrow against the state's best. The Blue Jays are at home against Navy today (4 p.m.) and UMBC tomorrow.
"Navy and UMBC have kids as fast or faster than the best we'll see in Division III," Hopkins coach George Kennedy said. "Competition like this toughens our kids up for the NCAA championships."
The Blue Jays men won three straight national championships in 1977-79, but Kenyon since has ruled the NCAA Division III meet 13 straight times, so the Blue Jays would settle for a top-five finish in March. They return six All-Americans from a squad that was sixth last year, and a strong freshman class is livening up competition for postseason berths.
"There's a 22-man roster limit for our conference [University Athletic Association] meet," Kennedy said. "We have 11 freshmen, and all of them have a great shot at making our conference team."
The rookies include Bill Baumgartner, who was a Maryland Scholastic Association freestyle champion at Gilman.
In addition to the six returning All-Americans, the veterans include Eric Steidinger, a senior from Winchester, Va., who missed all of last season while recuperating from back surgery. In early December, he lowered his school record in the 50 free to 20.69 seconds.
Here's what's coming
Halsey Field House will be the site of a good indoor track and field meet Saturday (noon), when Navy faces James Madison and William & Mary . . . The Towson State women's gymnastics team opens Sunday at Missouri . . . The Maryland wrestling team is home today (6 p.m.) against Coppin State and Howard . . . Coppin State's new sports information director, Jesse Batten, comes to Baltimore from Howard. He replaces Mike Preston, who began working for Gilman last fall.
Players of the Week
Salisbury State: Junior guard Dameon Ross (Du Val High/Mitchellville) was selected by the Eastern States Athletic Conference. He scored 95 points in three games, going over 1,000 in his 41st game with the Sea Gulls, and was the MVP in the Marymount Invitational.
Salisbury State: Senior guard Jennifer Boone was named by the Eastern States Athletic Conference. She had 48 points in two games.