CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The college basketball season that ends Monday night began in November under the cloud of a possible boycott by members of the Black Coaches Association.
The BCA was able to make its point regarding minority opportunities to the NCAA in meetings that were mediated by the U.S. Justice Department. The executive secretary of the NCAA isn't making any promises, but the feeling within the BCA and the larger National Association of Basketball Coaches is that the il,7p,14l higher standards for freshman eligibility scheduled for adoption in 1995 will be revised.
Last week, the BCA and NCAA agreed to continue to discuss the issues, and possibly put forth legislation for the 1995 NCAA convention that would alter the pending higher standards.
"In matters of initial eligibility, standardized testing and academic progress, the NCAA has addressed all of our concerns," said George Raveling, the USC coach who is a prominent member of the BCA. "Nowhere in the agreement does it state anything about scholarships."
The BCA originally threatened a boycott over scholarships in Division I men's programs being cut from 14 to 13, but its focus turned to academic issues. The BCA-NCAA agreement calls for the parties to discuss a fourth year of eligibility and financial aid for non-qualifiers, but the largest issue is the standards themselves that turn some of the nation's top prospects into "non-qualifiers."
Glenn Robinson, Purdue's Player of the Year, is the most visible example of a player who didn't meet the existing standards and lost a year of eligibility.
Currently, a high school senior needs a score of 700 on the Standard Assessment Test and a 2.0 grade-point average in 11 core courses to be eligible to play any NCAA sport as a freshman. Beginning in August 1995, a sliding scale will be adopted. A student with a 700 SAT would need a 2.5 GPA, and one with a 2.0 would have to score 900 on the SAT to earn freshman eligibility.
"A sliding scale is only supposed to slide in one direction," Raveling said. "Part of the agreement we have is that the new initial eligibility standards will be explored further. Also, if non-qualifiers met the same academic progress rules as qualifiers, we feel they should earn back that fourth year of eligibility."
The influential NCAA Presidents Commission had separate meetings yesterday afternoon with the BCA and Cedric Dempsey, executive director of the NCAA.
"Obviously, there are some differences, but the important thing as we meet is that these issues are being addressed," said Dempsey, who wouldn't make a prediction regarding possible alterations to the pending initial-eligibility standards.
In a related matter, Dempsey said that the NCAA's recent reorganization has created a fifth staff group, and that he's committed to hiring a minority candidate to head it.
Dempsey said that the committee exploring a possible playoff system for Division I-A football has concluded its research. To affect the 1995 season, legislation would need to be in place next January, but that sounded like a long shot.
A matter of trust
Dempsey, who replaced Dick Schultz after the latter resigned last year following allegations of illegal benefits for student-athletes while he was the Virginia athletic director, was asked about his vision for the NCAA.
"I want to increase the trust level in intercollegiate athletics," Dempsey said. "One of the reasons our rule book is so thick is that there's a lack of trust."
The NCAA's voluminous rule book states that teams can't arrive for a competition more than 48 hours before it starts. The rule is waived for NCAA championships, so the four participating teams got in town yesterday afternoon. They'll practice and meet the media at the Charlotte Coliseum today.
Arkansas isn't the only team with a chief executive in its corner. Before he became the top officer of the NCAA, Dempsey was the athletic director at Arizona . . . The 17-year-old daughter of Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski was robbed of her purse and car in the parking deck of a Durham, N.C., shopping mall. Melinda Diane Krzyzewski was not injured in the robbery. . . . Six blocks of an area downtown -- they call it uptown here -- Charlotte was transformed into the "Street of Champions," with themed storefronts inside and a carnival atmosphere outside, port-a-johns included . . . Arizona's average margin of victory in the West Region was 17.8 points and Arkansas' in the Midwest was 13.5, but Florida got by James Madison by two points in its East opener, and needed two missed free throws by Donyell Marshall to beat Connecticut in overtime in the third round.