KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Colleges and universities that are repeat violators could be forced to give up football or basketball for two years and the NCAA enforcement staff would gain far-reaching powers under a revolutionary series of measures approved Wednesday by the NCAA Council.
"We're instituting the athletic equivalent of the death penalty," said one observer who asked not to be identified. "In some cases . . . it is the difference between sending someone to jail or sending him to the gas chamber."
The proposals were drawn up by the newly created NCAA Presidential Commission and will be put to a vote of all NCAA schools at a special convention June 20-21 in New Orleans. If adopted, most will go into effect at once.
Jack Davis, president of the NCAA, said in an interview at the conclusion of the Council's meetings here Wednesday that he expects the measures to be adopted. Each will require a roll-call vote--meaning that every school's vote will be public.
"We sense a feeling of urgency among college presidents that something needs to be done immediately to address the issue of integrity in college athletics," Davis said.
The proposals are the result of several months of research and meetings and were not prompted by the recent basketball scandals at Tulane.
Bill Hunt, head of the NCAA enforcement department, said the proposals are the most extraordinary steps taken in the struggle to clean up college athletics that he has seen since he joined the association in 1972.
"We have determined that there are individuals out there who have been willing to accept the traditional probation penalties of no bowls or no television as the price you have to pay for a winning program," Hunt said. "But if you're not going to have any kind of program for two years--I think those people are going to conclude that it's not worth it. We want to make them feel that it's just not worth it anymore."
Essentially, the proposals will divide the NCAA rules into major and secondary infractions.
Major violations, said Hunt, are those that show a repeated pattern of willful wrong-doing and give a school a clear competitive advantage. Secondary violations will be defined as things that are isolated or technical in nature and provide a limited or no advantage.
In the past, secondary-type violations have usually resulted in a private reprimand or a public probation without sanctions. But if approved in June, these infractions could result in the permanent ineligibility of athletes; forfeiture of games; prohibition of the head coach or other staff members from off-campus recruiting for one year; a 20% reduction in the number of scholarships the school can offer in the affected sport; and a fine ranging from $500 to $5,000.
All penalties for secondary violations would be at the discretion of the assistant executive director for enforcement, which since 1978 has been Hunt. Any decision by Hunt could be appealed to the NCAA Infractions Committee, which in the past has decided punishment in all cases.
The minimum penalty for major violations would include all of the following:
--A two-year probationary period.
--The elimination of all expense-paid recruiting visits to the school for one year.
--Requiring all coaching staff members in the affected sport to forgo off-campus recruiting for one year.
--Requiring that all staff members who knowingly engage in or condone major violations be subject either to termination or suspension without pay for at least one year, or to be reassigned within the university to a position that does not bring him into contact with student-athletes for at least one year.
--One year of sanctions against postseason competition and television appearances.
The so-called gas chamber penalties will come into play, said Davis, for "repeat violators"--when any major violation is found within a five-year period following the starting date of a major penalty. The minimum penalties for repeat major violators would be:
--Prohibiting some or all "outside" competition in the sport involved in the latest major violation for one or two seasons and the prohibition of all coaching staff members in that sport from any coaching activity for two years. An NCAA staff member said "outside" competition would include all competition above the intramural level. "They would not even be able to schedule NAIA schools," he said.
--Prohibiting the school from giving out any scholarships and prohibiting the coaching staff from any recruiting activity for two years.
--Requiring that the school's staff members resign any position on any NCAA committee, including the Council or the Presidential Commission.
--Forcing the school to relinquish its voting privileges in the NCAA for four years.
Grant Teaff, head football coach at Baylor and chairman of the American Football Coaches Assn., predicted most coaches would welcome the get-tough stance.