NCAA Will Look at Proposition 42 Again


Renewed consideration of Proposition 42, a controversial modification of the NCAA’s eligibility requirements for freshmen, will highlight the 84th annual NCAA convention here this week, a meeting that otherwise doesn’t appear set to tackle any of the major issues facing college athletics.

Proposition 42, adopted by the NCAA’s Division I schools last year for implementation during the 1990-91 academic year, closes a loophole in Proposition 48, the rule that bases freshman eligibility on standardized test scores as well as high school grade-point average.

Under Prop. 48, which went into effect in 1986, athletes who don’t meet certain minimums in two areas--(1) a standardized test score of at least 700 on the Scholastic Aptitude Test or 15 on the American College Test, and (2) grade-point average--must sit out their freshmen seasons. However, they can receive athletic scholarships as freshmen by meeting NCAA standards in at least one of the two areas. But Prop. 42 would eliminate scholarships for these, in NCAA terminology, “partial qualifiers.”

The ink was barely dry on Prop. 42 before several prominent black coaches, believing that the standardized tests discriminate against poor blacks, spoke out strongly against the rule. Temple basketball Coach John Chaney called Prop. 42 “a racist rule” approved by “racist (college) presidents.” Georgetown Coach John Thompson went a step further, boycotting Hoya games against Boston College and Providence last season in protest of the rule.


The outcry has led to three alternative proposals that will be considered by convention delegates from Division I schools Monday.

One proposal, from the NCAA Presidents Commission, would allow freshmen “partial qualifiers” under Prop. 48 to receive institutional financial aid based on financial need only. Another proposal, coming from the Southwest Conference and the Big East, would rescind Prop. 42 entirely. And the third, from the Big East, would put off implementing the rule until its ramifications can be studied further.

In anticipation of the vote, the Black Coaches Assn., an organization of 2,500 college and high school coaches, last month wrote letters supporting the rescission of Prop. 42 to Division I athletic directors, conference commissioners and members of the black congressional caucus.

“We’d like them (convention delegates) to rescind (Prop.) 48, too, and then make freshmen ineligible,” said Rudy Washington, an assistant basketball coach at Iowa who is executive director of the association. “I don’t know if that’s feasible at this convention, but that’s what we’re pushing for.


“What we’re saying is, ‘Leave admissions requests up to the academic institutions, then let us get back to the business of being educators.’ ”

Whether this view will eliminate Prop. 48 remains to be seen, however.

A straw poll on the subject last month within the Pacific 10 showed seven of the 10 schools in favor of the Prop. 42 alternative offered by the Presidents Commission, according to Pac-10 Commissioner Tom Hansen.

“I have a feeling that (the Presidents Commission alternative) is likely to carry as opposed to doing away with Prop. 42 completely,” Hansen said.


Even in the beginning, when it was first proposed by the Southeastern Conference at last year’s convention in San Francisco, Prop. 42 was on shaky ground. It was at first defeated, 159-151, by the Division I membership before being reconsidered and passed, 163-154, a day later.

“I think most delegates are not passionate about it,” Hansen said. “But I don’t think most delegates want to back away from it any farther than the presidents’ proposal.”

Among other items to be considered at the convention, which begins tonight and is scheduled to last through Wednesday, are these:

--A proposal requiring schools to compile and publicly release the graduation rates of their athletes.


--Proposals shortening the college basketball season by moving the opening day of practice from Oct. 15 to Nov. 1, changing the first day for games from the fourth Friday in November to Dec. 1 and reducing the allowable number of games during the regular season from 28 to 25.

--A proposal cutting spring football practice from 20 to 10 sessions and banning contact in spring drills.

Said Hansen: “There are a few proposals here and there that could be helpful, but this is more of a housekeeping convention to clear the decks before 1991.”

The ’91 convention, to be held in Nashville, Tenn., will probably deal with more significant issues because two key NCAA committees, one on cost reduction and the other on restructuring the organization, are due to complete their work later this year.


In fact, Martin Massengale, University of Nebraska chancellor and chairman of the Presidents Commission, said he expects the proposals shortening the basketball season and spring practice, both developed by his commission to reduce the demands on athletes’ time, to be tabled this week with an eye toward ’91.

The ’91 convention could also be when the idea of eliminating freshman eligibility altogether comes to a vote. The idea will be debated, but not put to a vote, in Dallas.