Convention Supports Prop. 42, but Makes Modification : NCAA: Partial qualifiers will be allowed to receive non-athletic scholarship aid in freshman year.


Monday’s session at the NCAA convention showed once again that Proposition 42, which denies athletic scholarships to freshmen who aren’t eligible under Proposition 48 entrance requirements, remains a touchy and--at times--clouded issue.

Nonetheless, when the first voting session had ended, Proposition 42 was still on the books--although a window was opened to provide some non-athletic financial support based on need. The measure is scheduled for implementation in August.

Delegates from Division I schools voted overwhelmingly in support of a measure that leaves Proposition 42 largely intact.


At the same time, they rejected a measure that would have restored a year of eligibility to athletes who had lost it because of Prop. 48 but then made satisfactory progress toward a degree.

As is often the case with Prop. 48, the rule basing freshman eligibility on standardized test scores and grade-point average in a core curriculum, the debate was, at times, emotional. Penn State football Coach Joe Paterno, who helped pass the rule with an impassioned speech at the 1983 convention in San Diego, mounted his soap box again. Black educators, who have long held that using standardized tests as an initial eligibility standard is discriminatory, made their point again.

In the end, the NCAA held to the course it has maintained over the last six years and, in doing so, gave a boost to the Presidents Commission’s ability to set the organization’s agenda.

Prop. 42 was presented a year ago to Division I delegates as a means of closing a loophole in Prop. 48, which went into effect in 1986.

Under Prop. 48, an athlete who fails to make either a 700 (out of a possible 1,600) on the Scholastic Aptitude Test or 15 (out of 36) on the American College Test and post a 2.0 GPA in the core curriculum is ineligible as a freshmen and has only three years of eligibility after that. The athlete could, however, receive an athletic scholarship as a freshman by measuring up in at least one of the two areas.

Prop. 42, as passed at last year’s convention, prohibited those athletes--partial qualifiers, in NCAA jargon--from receiving athletic scholarships as freshmen. Many black educators and coaches criticized the passage of Prop. 42, and Georgetown basketball Coach John Thompson twice boycotted games last season to protest the rule.

Responding to the outcry, the Presidents Commission came back this year with a new proposal that allows partial qualifiers to receive institutional financial aid as long as it is based on need and isn’t funded by the athletic department.

That proposal was passed, 258-66, by Division I delegates Monday after an amendment was added to keep partial qualifiers receiving the non-athletic aid from counting against schools’ scholarship limits in football and basketball until the athletes are practicing with their teams.

Some delegates expressed the concern that, with partial qualifiers not counting against the scholarship limits, schools could “stockpile” athletes.

Still, proponents of Prop. 42 were happy that the rule survived in some form, and UCLA Chancellor Charles Young, a member of the Presidents Commission, said the vote reestablished the commission’s ability to set the NCAA’s legislative agenda.

At last year’s convention, Prop. 42 was first defeated by the delegates, then later approved.

Strangely, delegates Monday voted on a proposal to repeal Prop. 42 even though they had just approved the presidents’ proposal to modify the rule. The proposal for repeal failed overwhelmingly, too, 228-92, but not before strong opinions were voiced on both sides.

Speaking against the repeal of Prop. 42, Paterno said: “It’s my experience with blacks in sports and entertainment that they have proven to be successful in a world in which they can’t just be as good as the whole, they have to be better. Hopefully, now we won’t say, ‘You cannot challenge 700 on your board scores.’ Just give them the chance.

“If we vote to do away with (Prop. 42), we send another confusing message to that youngster bouncing a basketball in Brooklyn. ‘You don’t really have to study. If you throw it, run, jump, you’ll get a couple years (in college), be eligible, and you’ll be a pro athlete.’ ”

But others spoke out against Prop. 42, in part because a five-year NCAA study of the impact of Prop. 48 has not been completed.

“I think we need a significant evaluation of the impact of 48,” Georgetown Athletic Director Frank Rienzo told reporters after the voting.

“Also, the ETS (Educational Testing Service, which administers the SAT) and the NCAA have banded together to find suitable criteria (for using the test scores). That’s what surprises me about this. We’re saying, ‘This criteria is not suitable,’ yet we’re willing to live with it. My feeling is this criteria is discriminatory, and we should abandon it completely.”

Said Young: “I can see where somebody might have been against Proposition 42 last January because of the (Prop. 48) study. But having adopted it, as Joe Paterno said, it would send the wrong message to back down now.”

After approving the presidents’ modification of Prop. 42, the delegates considered a measure, known as Proposition 38, designed to loosen the Prop. 48 standards by granting a fourth season of eligibility to athletes who had lost a year to Prop. 48 and then completed a minimum of 105 semester units toward a degree.

As it was written, Prop. 38 was designed to go into effect immediately and be retroactive--meaning that some Prop. 48 athletes who have just completed their eligibility and had even played in postseason all-star games could suddenly have received another year of eligibility.

Delegates at first approved Prop. 38 with relatively little debate. But then they reconsidered the issue and ultimately voted it down.

Paterno pointed out that some athletes who would benefit from the rule had already accepted money to play in all-star games, and Nebraska football Coach Tom Osborne argued that the rule would penalize those schools that had tried to steer away from recruiting athletes who don’t qualify under Prop. 48.

NCAA Notes

Former President Ronald Reagan’s acceptance of the NCAA’s “Teddy” award came off without a hitch last night despite protests by some women involved in college athletics. Reagan accepted the award, named for former President Theodore Roosevelt and considered the highest honor that the NCAA can confer, at the honors dinner held in conjunction with the NCAA convention.

Former pro golfer Carol Mann reportedly resigned her seat on the awards committee in protest of the selection of Reagan, who has been criticized by some women for his lack of support for women’s athletics. Donna Lopiano, women’s athletic director at the University of Texas, had also criticized Reagan’s selection. She did not attend the banquet because she had a prior engagement. But, because of Reagan’s presence, she would not have come under any circumstances, she said.