The National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division I Management Council offered something for just about everyone in a set of changes it approved Monday and announced yesterday.
The panel of sports officials endorsed the idea of letting Division I-A and I-AA football programs play a 12th game each season, up from the current 11. That change won't take effect unless the Division I Board of Directors, a committee of college presidents, approves it at a meeting on April 28.
Supporters of the change say it will give colleges an additional opportunity to produce revenue and to play games outside their own leagues. But some chief executives are likely to oppose the change because it will be perceived as expanding the time demands on students, even though it will not extend the actual length of the season at all (under the proposal, the extra game would be played during a current week off in a team's season).
S. David Berst, the NCAA's vice president for Division I, said he expects "there will be more discussion on the board level," but didn't want to predict how it might vote: "The board should have freedom to make its own decision."
In a move likely to please advocates for female athletes, the management council increased the number of scholarships that Division I programs can offer in four women's sports: gymnastics (from 12 to 14), soccer (12 to 14), track and field (18 to 20) , and volleyball (12 to 13).
The panel also voted to:
- Allow athletes who are ineligible to compete as freshmen because they fail to meet the NCAA's academic standards to earn a fourth year of eligibility if they have fulfilled 80 percent of the requirements of their degree program by the end of their fourth year in college. Under current rules, an athlete must have completed 100 percent of his or her degree requirements by the end of the fourth year to play another season.
- Let football and basketball players receive institutional need-based or other non-athletic financial aid without counting against limits on the number of scholarship athletes a team may have, as is now true in all other sports.