Board has final say on season expansion

INDIANAPOLIS -- The NCAA Division I Management Council has backed legislation that would allow Division I-A and I-AA schools to add a 12th football game starting with the 2006 season.

The plan was given tentative approval by the council at its meeting on Monday and will be sent to the NCAA Board of Directors for final consideration April 28.

Division I vice president David Berst said Tuesday he didn't know whether the NCAA board would go along with the council's recommendation, which was opposed only by the Atlantic Coast Conference among I-A conferences.

"I would expect there will be more discussion," Berst said. "The board should have the freedom to make its own decision."

There was no discussion of the issue at the council's meeting.

"The various conferences came to the meeting prepared to vote,
and we just tallied the votes," Berst said.

Ron Wellman, the athletic director at Wake Forest and chairman of the ACC's athletic directors, said many of the conference's concerns dealt with academics.

"We believe the season is long enough at 11 games, and we actually enjoy the bye week," he said.

The council also approved legislation for more flexible recruiting calendars in men's basketball and increased the number of scholarships for women in gymnastics, soccer, volleyball and track and field. It also voted to grant another year of eligibility to players who were academically ineligible as freshmen but had completed 80 percent of their degree requirements after four years.

No action was taken on the length of the season in basketball because of a pending court case, Berst said.

The 12-game proposal in football was among more than 100 items considered by the council.

Currently, Division I football teams play 11 regular-season games except in years when there are 14 Saturdays from the first permissible playing date through the last playing date in November. The 2002 and 2003 seasons qualified for the extra game, but without the new legislation, the next would not be until 2008.

The basketball proposals were submitted last year by the National Association of Basketball Coaches and the Women's
Basketball Association. Among the ones approved by the council was one to allow freshmen to play in preseason exhibition games and, as long as they do not play the rest of that season, still have four additional years of eligibility.

The council did not support NABC proposals to allow coaches greater access to players and recruits during offseason workouts and clinics.

"There were a variety of issues related to that, some even related to coaches who were a little bit concerned about what other coaches might really do if they have that opportunity," said Chris Monasch, athletic director at St. John's and outgoing chairman of the management council.

He said many administrators also were concerned about additional pressure on their compliance officers.

"Are we going to have more questions about whether the coach could have a clipboard? And what's the coach really doing? And how do you keep it informal? All of those kinds of issues simply overwhelmed the proposal," Monasch said.

The proposal to allow a fourth season of eligibility for those who have completed 80 percent of their degree requirements by the start of their fifth year of enrollment would become effective Aug. 1 this year and would apply to students already in school as well as incoming freshmen.

The scholarship increases for women would raise the numbers from 12 to 14 in gymnastics and soccer, 12 to 13 in volleyball and 18 to 20 in track and field.