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ALL JC/COMMUNITY COLLEGE MEMBERS
POSITIVE IMPACT OF SPORTS PROCEDURE CHANGES IN TWO-YEAR COLLEGES
(Monday, June 7 --11:45 a.m.-12:45 p.m.)

Lea Plarski:

Good morning. Wayne is in Spain. He's with a basketball team upholding the honor of the United States in two-year college athletics. In 1987, the National Junior College Athletic Association painted in with a very broad brush its work procedures. Subsequently, those have been fine-tuned based on some changes, some issues that have occurred over the past several years that were reflected in Academic Athletic Reform, increased involvement by CEOs and by financial constraints that every school is facing currently and has been facing the past several years. This past spring, that organization passed some drastically revised, in some instances, sports procedures that will more accurately reflect what we are actually doing. Here this morning to help us understand these and to provide information is Mary Ellen Light. She is the assistant executive director of the National Junior College Athletic Association.

Mary Ellen Light:

About 10 years ago, as you all know, athletics, basically, were the golden child of many colleges. They put in a lot of time. There was a lot of media attention. The word of mouth was spread that this is the college to go to because they had a particularly good football team or they had a wonderful basketball team. People started talking about various colleges. College presidents liked that, athletic directors liked that and we thought it was a good public relations move to have all of the publicity for the teams. When athletic departments began to get a little bit out of hand, sometimes people looked the other way. There were things taking place that weren't necessarily within the realm of the rules, but no one actually questioned it at that point in time. The media reported win and loss records and how well the teams were doing. All of a sudden, things started happening that the media started to pick up on, such as a student coming back to the school and saying, "Hey, we had a contract. I've played for you for four years, but you never gave me the education that you promised me when I came to that school." Some athletes were coming back with a second or third grade reading level, but they received a diploma from the school. The media picked up on this and society was outraged that this could happen at various institutions of higher education.

We've seen the stories and we've seen the movies. Everybody seemed to take delight in saying we told you it was going to happen and finally, it did. The reform started. Ten years ago, sports procedures were words that no one even heard of. No one paid any attention to the athletic directors. They weren't necessary at that point in time. About four or five years ago, we put together some sports procedures. The sports procedures, basically, were not intended to try and even out the playing field between colleges. That was the intent of the divisional plays. We said scholarship schools are not going to play against non-scholarship schools and colleges that can give full rides are playing against other colleges able to give that kind of aid also. So, sports procedures were trying to limit the number of hours, the number of contests and beginning of practice season and playing season.

Three of the biggest reasons we felt that the sports procedures had to come into effect were, first of all, the image. The image of the NJCAA and the image of two-year colleges has always been one that has been questioned. In the past, and especially since Proposition 48 came into effect, the two-year colleges are getting more and more blue chip athletes that have not been academically eligible to start immediately at a four-year college. Word was that if a student wasn't Prop 48, he could simply go to a two-year school, play for a couple of years, receive his associate degree and go on to a four-year school. People looked at our programs and said they weren't really academically based. They felt we were just trying to get these kids through and let them play at another school. That's not the case. You and I know that the programs that we have at our schools are as academically oriented as many four-year schools, without question. Because these questions were coming up in the press, the committee was formed to put together some numbers. As we said, they were broad-based. There was no historical statistics that they could be based upon. We didn't have any numbers at that point in time to gauge how many scholarships were given for basketball, football or volleyball. They made the numbers such so they did not limit our schools. Unlike four-year schools, our schools use athletic scholarships to bring in full-time enrollments so that more financial aid is available through the federal government. We didn't want to tie the hands of our schools by putting that number so low that we were starting to cut out numbers that were available. Those numbers, obviously, were very high. We also put together some numbers as far as practice day start, number of contests that could be played, etc. Those numbers were good for a couple of years.

There was a push by CEOs to take a look at these numbers. They realized these numbers were way too high. Unfortunately, the comparison was made between our association and the numbers put together by the four-year association. Those numbers were way out of balance. There were legitimate differences between the way we were dealing with our sports procedures and the way the four-year institutions were dealing with theirs. However, ours were still greatly in excess of what was actually taking place.

The Presidential Task Force came up some numbers they thought were viable for the NJCAA. In 1992, our Board of Directors said, "No, we don't like these numbers." Rather than knocking the whole thing down and basically just voting it out, they discussed this until our office could come up with some valid numbers a! to how many contests were actually being played and how many scholarships were being given. Until we could come up with statistics reflecting what was really happening out there, now where do we want the figures to be. For one year, our office went through all of our reports. We went through all of our scholarships. We got totals on when people started their games, how long they took off at Christmas, how many games they played, how many scholarships they were giving, how many letters of intent they were giving. If these numbers are incorrect now, we got the wrong numbers from our schools. If that's the case, then we are in trouble.

The numbers were given to the Eligibility Committee which, basically, was a group of 15 people. They would then determine what the fair numbers were for every sport. It was recognized that some of the schoo would be hurt by these numbers. Some schools would never even touch the limits because they don't have the resources available. The numbers they came up with were based on the average of most of the schools iJ the nation. The committee felt those were the fairest numbers. Almost unanimously, at the 1992 meeting, those sports procedures were passed.

Another reason for this coming about was the academic concerns that were being shown by our schools. If any of you were here yesterday, you heard the speaker say that 50 percent of those students who come intI our schools are ill-prepared for college work, which leads us to believe that academics should be of utmost concern for those kids coming in. They have to have a basis, they need a structure and a beginning to becon successful academically without automatically throwing them out on the field or court for three and four hou a day. Their concentration needs to be on academics first. Once they can form a solid base in academics, they can come out onto the field and possibly be successful in both areas. Again, the presidents had a lot to do with initially putting this through. Our organization was rather hesitant at tearing these numbers down. The presidents felt that this was the best way to do it. We can now say it was beneficial for us to go througl with these numbers.

You all know that the constraints most colleges are going through these days are severe. The limitation i the numbers, the numbers we have come up with will, hopefully, be a basis to allow schools to settle down and be realistic in their numbers. The average number that most schools use is 14. That's what we'll give you. The presidents seem to like that. They don't have to be the bad guys anymore. With those limitations the coaches have it in black and white. This is the maximum you're going to get, this is what is available to you. Again, as th'ese sports procedures evolved from 1989 to 1992 to 1993, one of the hopes that the Eligibility Committee had for some of these limitations was, as you all know, gender equity .

Possibly, by paring some of these numbers down, the money will become available to have more equitable athletic programs where the women' s programs will be equivalent to the men' s. In men' s basketball, for instance, the average scholarships were 17. The women's average was 13. Men's and women's numbers were set at what they felt was fair, even though that might exceed the number that the women are currently getting. By cutting down some of the monies that go into various programs, the monies might be channeled into other programs that could use the assistance at this point.

Let's go through the Sports Procedures which were passed to you. You'll see that the structure in the sports procedures, or the appearance, of what we tried to do is group the sports together so that it's more readable for everybody. You'll notice a lot of differences between this and what you've been used to in the old Sports Procedures. First of all, the start date on all of our sports, basically, has been given a date rather than the third Monday in August. For instance, we're going to go with August 10 for cross country as your first start date for practice. That is not only to aid you, but to aid us. It's difficult for us to keep track of what the third Monday in whatever month is. The same applies to the game date, no matter what date that falls on. It might be a Sunday. It might be a Saturday. For instance, in cross country, September I will be the first time you can put kids on the course in an official meet.

You'll notice the number of Letter of Intent Scholarships has been greatly reduced. It's based on the statistics that we've put together in our office from the scholarship numbers available the last couple of years. You ' II also notice that the Letters of Intent Scholarships, in each case, are the same. That is a big difference in what we've had before. We took a look and basically said that the Letters of Intent and scholarships didn't need to be different. If you're going to give a letter of intent, you'll have a scholarship to go with it and those numbers, no matter what, are going to be the same. The same thing happened with divisional play. For instance, in Division II basketball, whereas you're allowed 16 in Division I, you're also now allowed 16 in Division II. That was not the case before. Division II always had a lesser number. The committee took a look and decided that you have the same number of people on the court no matter what division you play in, so why should we limit the number in Division II to be less than Division I. We went ahead and decided that this is the best way to do this. As far as these numbers are concerned, except for the number of scholarships and the number of Letters of Intent, these numbers go into effect August 1, 1993. In two months, you will have to be combined with the number of contests, with the start dates and with your game dates. The number of scholarships and the number of Letter of Intent, unless that number has been increased, you can give the higher number for this next year. For instance, in Division I basketball, where it went from 24 to 16, those numbers will not take place until August 1, 1994. At that time, everybody will be expected to be in compliance with those numbers. There isn't a grandfather. We're giving you a year and a half to say this is what the numbers are going to be. You plan your recruiting this year based on what those numbers are going to be in 1994. If the number is increased, go ahead and use the higher number for 1993. If the numbers decrease, you basically have a year to work with to try to get your programs into compliance as of August 1, 1994. We're giving everyone a year and a half and your coaches need to know that those are the numbers that they have to work with.

The only scholarships that the NJCAA is concerned about are those based on your athletic ability .If the Presidential Scholarship is based on anything besides their athletic ability, such as a minority scholarship, an academic scholarship, anything other than athletics, then that's not counted in that number. In essence, you can probably still have 12 foreign athletes competing on your team with only two actually being on athletic scholarships and be within the realm of the NJCAA. No one felt that we could limit the number of kids that you could put on your team. We could only limit the amount of athletic aid that was being given to them. Anything other than scholarship for athletic aid is not counted in that total. If it's based on their athletic ability, you have to count it.

One of the points of discussion that came up at the 1993 annual meeting basically emphasized basketball. People wanted to know why they couldn't put kids on the court the first day they arrived on campus. Why couldn't the coach go out there and say, here you go? Again, as you heard yesterday, the first six weeks of classes for these kids are the most important. That's where they establish their roots. That's where their bases of success is going to be established. That's one of the reasons why we're not allowing you to start your practices any sooner than October 1. We want to give these kids a chance to find out where the library is, who's on their floor in the dorm or who's in their classes and who their instructors are, rather than having them concerned about making it to a two hour practice. We're not saying that coaches can't have some type of contact with their students. We're saying that we don't want your contact to be on the court. If you're going to have contact with your kids, have it in the context of you want to meet with them every week and discuss how they're doing in classes. You want to be able to put them in study hall and make sure that their academics are established rather than throwing them out onto the court first thing.

Another question that we often get from the press is the comparison between the number of scholarships that our organization allows and the number which the NCAA allows. Our numbers are higher than theirs. We're trying to allow our schools to give out a certain number of scholarships, but if you want to break up the whole scholarships and give it to two kids, that's where we get the higher number. The NCAA allows schools to split monies and do a total divided by how many kids there are, etc. We don't allow something like that. That is a question we often get.

One of the biggest things that you run up against is image. We're trying to provide you with a basis for running your programs. If you're out fund raising, you can tell people that not only did you finish second in your conference or second in your region, but you also have three academic all-Americans on your team. That's a big boost. That's what people are looking for. They want to know what's going on besides your win and loss record. If you can tell them that your kids are doing well academically, that's a big plus for your programs. Hopefully, the limitations that our association has come up with will help with those number:

The administrators we've talked to like what has happened. Some of the coaches, obviously, do not like it. They don't want their hands tied when it comes to the number of scholarships they can give out. I think you're going to hear that from coaches because they want as much latitude as they can to give as much as they possibly can to as many athletes as they can.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you.