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NCAA to I-A Members: Put Up or Shut Up

By Danny Whitford

In a move that has the potential to shake up the landscape of college football, the NCAA Division I Board of Directors has given its final approval to new legislation which will force many programs to either pony up or step down.

The board finalized new minimum standards for Division I-A membership that will go into effect August 1, 2004.

Higher thresholds will be required in the number of scholarships granted, the number of sports sponsored, the number of home games required against other I-A opponents and the actual number of warm, paying bodies in the seats for those home games.

East Carolina appears positioned to leap the new hurdles with room to spare, but many institutions will have to light a financial fire under boosters, attract more fans to home games and make significant changes in their scheduling philosophies in order to cut the mustard.

The new criteria for Division I-A membership, as outlined in an NCAA news release, specifies the following minimum standards:

  • Provide an average of at least 90 percent of the permissible maximum number of football grants-in-aid per year over a rolling two-year period (76.5 is 90 percent of the current 85 grants-in-aid limit in football).
  • Annually participate in a minimum of five regular-season home contests against Division I-A opponents.
  • Sponsor a minimum of 16 varsity sports, with a minimum of six varsity sports for men and a minimum of eight varsity sports for women.
  • Annually offer a minimum of 200 athletics grants-in-aid or expend at least $4 million on athletics grants-in-aid to student-athletes. Service academies are exempt from the financial aid regulations.
  • Annually demonstrate an average actual attendance of 15,000 for all home games.

"The recommendations for Division I-A criteria were developed by groups within our structure who are most familiar with football," said William "Brit" Kirwin, president of Ohio State University and chairman of the board.

"The legislation provides clarity to the commitment necessary to be classified as a I-A institution," Kirwin noted.

Additional rules in the hopper, if finalized, may rock the current conference alignment structure to its foundations. Proposed legislation which would go into effect August 1, 2005, would require that any conference classified as I-A must be comprised of at least eight Division I-A members that satisfy all I-A requirements.

NCAA also active on other legislation

The board took final action on some pieces of a long-debated amateurism legislative package for prospects, but tabled one proposal until the Division I Management Council completes further review.

The Board adopted proposals that will allow prospects to enter a draft and be drafted, accept prize money based on place finish when the prize money does not exceed actual and necessary expenses, and receive educational expenses to attend a high school or preparatory school if the funds are disbursed by the school and not provided by an agent, athletics representative or professional team.

Members also approved a new definition of a professional team, which states that a professional team is one that provides any of its players with more than actual and necessary expenses or declares itself as professional.

These new bylaws become effective August 1, 2002.

S&C coaching rules relaxed; Moratorium on bowls lifted; 6-6 OK

In other action, the Division I board of directors:

  • Finalized action to establish requirements for new members that join Division I or for current NCAA members to reclassify to Division I. The Board also acted to lift the current membership moratorium in Division I, effective May 1.
  • Approved emergency legislation for the summer of 2002 that addresses health and safety issues related to out-of-season conditioning activities for prospective football student-athletes. Strength and conditioning coaches with department-wide duties will be permitted to conduct voluntary workouts on campus for prospective student-athletes who have signed national letters of intent (or for those institutions that do not subscribe to the national letter of intent, those who have signed offers of admission or financial aid). Currently, strength and conditioning coaches can supervise those workouts but are not allowed to conduct them, as they can with currently-enrolled football student-athletes. In addition, institutions may finance medical expenses for those prospects who sustain injuries while participating in the summer voluntary workouts conducted by the strength coach.
  • Finalized a proposal that will permit a Division I-A football team with a record of 6-6 to be bowl eligible for the 2002-03 season.
  • Approved a proposal that lifts a moratorium that was to extend through the 2002-03 season on the number of postseason bowl games that are permitted in Division I-A. The maximum during the moratorium was 26.
  • Approved recommendations from the Division I budget committee for 2002-03 championships initiatives. Those initiatives include expansion of the women's softball championship to 64 teams; expansion of the men's ice hockey championship to 16 teams, expansion of the men's lacrosse championship to 16 teams, and establishment of predetermined sites for the first and second rounds of the women's basketball championship.

[ This report includes information from an NCAA news release. ]

02/23/07 01:37:19 AM----

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