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N.C.A.A. To Delay Vote on Freshman Eligibility

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Despite the recommendation of a committee formed to study the academic problems of collegiate athletes, the National Collegiate Athletic Association's executive body has voted against a proposal to put the issue of freshman eligibility on the ballot of the ncaa's January 1984 convention.

The 16-member Select Committee on Athletic Problems and Concerns in Higher Education had recommended that the ncaa council propose legislation for the convention that would prohibit freshmen from playing varsity basketball and football in Division I.

The members of the select committee argued that ending freshman eligibiltiy in Division I athletics would allow athletes an opportunity to establish themselves academically before facing the pressures of interscholastic competition.

The committee's argument, said Ted Tow, assistant executive direc-tor of the ncaa, "esentially is that the freshman year is the most difficult. It is a time of transition academically, personally, and socially."

Members of the select committee argued, Mr. Tow added, that it is not wise to allow freshmen athletes to face the high pressure of varsity athletics in addition to the other pressures of that year.

Because there is no documented evidence to prove freshmen do better academically if they are not involved in varsity athletics, Mr. Tow said, several of the members on the select committee submitted "anecdotal data" to suggest that freshmen have more trouble when they are involved in varsity sports.

While the council last month decided not to put the eligibility question on the January agenda, it did authorize a 1984 study of the issue.

The freshman-eligibility question has plagued the ncaa for more than a decade. Since 1972, when the national collegiate-sports organization adopted the current rules, which allow freshmen athletes to participate in all varsity sports, there have been numerous academic scandals involving forged transcripts and phony credits. In answer to such problems, the ncaa adopted Rule 48, which requires minimum test scores and grade-point averages in order for freshmen to participate in varsity athletics.

But leaders of predominantly black colleges and civil-rights organizations have charged that Rule 48 is racist because many more blacks would be ineligible for freshman competition than whites. According to a report from the Big Eight Conference, 60 percent of black freshmen currently playing varsity sports in that conference would be ineligible when Rule 48 goes into effect in 1986, while between 10 and 27 percent of white athletes would be excluded.--cc

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