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NCAA Presidents Address Integrity Issue

Associated Press

More than 300 college presidents are expected to vote on a series of revolutionary enforcement measures at the NCAA’s “integrity convention” this week in New Orleans.

Sources told The Associated Press there apparently will be more university heads at the June 20-21 gathering than ever before attended an NCAA event.

“We understand that quite a few presidents have told their athletic directors to stay home, that they will be the voting delegate,” said one source. “And a lot of the presidents who are not coming are sending their athletic directors or faculty representatives with firm instructions on how to vote. The efforts of the Presidents Commission to get more chief executive officers involved in athletics seems to be bearing fruit.”

The special convention, only the fifth in the NCAA’s 79-year history, was called by the 44-member Presidents Commission, a newly created branch of the NCAA governing structure. The commission also drew up eight of the 12 get-tough agenda proposals after a survey indicated that a majority of university chiefs believe recruiting and academic scandals are threatening the integrity of higher education itself.

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Measures that NCAA schools will be voting on would, among other things, ban cheating coaches from recruiting and force repeat violators schools to suspend their football or basketball programs for up to two years.

The special convention was scheduled several months before the point-shaving scandal broke out at Tulane and is not connected with the problems at that school in New Orleans. Without doubt, the growing worries of gambling and drugs will be discussed. But measures to be voted on all are aimed at winning the war against recruiting scandals and retooling what commission chairman John W. Ryan of Indiana calls “our antiquated system of enforcement.”

One of the most controversial ideas is tied to a revision in the enforcement structure and may be amended before it reaches the floor, sources told the AP.

The new structure sets up “major” and “minor” rules violations and establishes specific penalties for each category. In an effort to streamline the process, the measure calls for the NCAA’s executive director for enforcement to assess penalties for secondary’ violations without the case being heard by the six-member Infractions Committee. Under the new penalty code, however, secondary violations can result in forfeiture or games, loss of eligibility, scholarship reductions and recruiting prohibitions against head coaches, and the idea has drawn fire.

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“It’s is like being arrested by a detective, and having your judge turn out to be the chief of detectives,” was how one delegate at last month’s College Football Association convention viewed the idea. Steve Morgan of the NCAA’s legislative services department, said an amendment will likely be drawn up shifting the responsibility to the chairman of the infractions committee.

A school would be able to appeal any decision to the full infractions committee, which will continue hearing all other cases.

“When the Presidents Commission and the NCAA Council decided to sponsor this legislation, their thinking was that the appeal opportunity to the full committee would provide protection for the school and also help streamling the procedures,” said Morgan. “But it’s obvious there has been a concern . . . that there is potential for abuse, or that it puts too much authority in the hands of the staff. There has also been discussion about creating a separate infractions committee to deal with secondary violations.”


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