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Official says 5/8 rule has outlived use

INDIANAPOLIS -- The NCAA Division I Management Council voted
unanimously Monday to repeal a rule on scholarship limits in
basketball and replace it with one that rewards teams for overall
academic performance.

The current rule allows schools to offer five scholarships in
one year or eight in two years, but it penalizes schools -- no
matter how well they've done historically -- by not allowing them to
replace scholarship players who become academically ineligible,
NCAA president Myles Brand said.

One of the proposals the Management Council will present to the
NCAA Board of Directors later this month would set a team threshold
for triggering a penalty, such as the loss of a scholarship.

The exact numbers would be determined later.

"If you have a very high performing academic team that
graduated almost everyone, that team's not going to be affected,"
Brand said after the first of two days of meetings. "But if it
turns out they haven't had a good graduation rate -- and we haven't
set that number yet -- then that school will be affected.

"So there is some reward -- some incentive, if you like. It
gives you a little leeway."

The proposals must be approved by the Board of Directors before
they can be put into effect. If approved, they would track
graduation rates and academic progress of athletes and apply
increasingly harsher penalties for the worst offenders.

Christine Plonsky, the council chairwoman and women's athletic
director at Texas, said the 5/8 rule, which would be eliminated
immediately upon approval by the Board of Directors, has outlived
its usefulness.

"The Management Council really feels the
incentives-disincentives, the continuing eligibility and the
ratcheting up of academic standards does call attention to the
issues with regard to low graduation rates and low performance in
some programs across the country," she said.

Brand said penalties would be applied based on data gathered
beginning this coming academic year.

Among other proposals to be considered by the Board of Directors
are those to prohibit foreign basketball tours within 30 days of
the start of fall practice and to study possible changes in media
and promotional materials that might be used in recruiting. Another
would set up a committee to evaluate the academic reforms once the
data is collected.

"We need to know semester by semester, quarter by quarter, how
our athletes are progressing," Plonsky said.

Brand said he is "highly optimistic" the board will approve
the proposals at its April 29 meeting.

The Management Council will meet again Tuesday to consider
recommendations by a separate task force on recruiting, which last
week proposed colleges be required to develop written policies on
alcohol and unsupervised entertainment, along with clear standards
for determining who should be held accountable for compliance.

The task force was formed in February by Brand in the wake of
several highly publicized recruiting scandals. Final
recommendations will be considered in July and are expected to be
sent to the Board of Directors in time to enact new rules before
the 2004-05 recruiting season.