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Presidents of colleges and universities with major intercollegiate sports programs have been meeting in recent weeks to discuss what one has called "the triple crisis" in athletics--ethical abuses, costs, and the poor academic performance of athletes.

In the same week that The New York Times ran a major sports story on abuses of National Collegiate Athletic Association rules by the University of Florida, Walter Byers, the association's executive director, reportedly told members of the ncaa's presidents' commission that the current crisis in intercollegiate sports was more serious than any he has known in 35 years. At a later press conference, John W. Ryan, president of Indiana University and chairman of the commission, said the presidents planned to undertake studies of "the integrity crisis" and the cost-revenue structure of intercollegiate sports.

Mr. Ryan also announced a commission proposal to modify the controversial Proposition 48, an ncaa eligibility rule that will raise academic requirements for freshman participation in varsity sports at large institutions starting in August 1986. Mr. Ryan said the commission would urge the ncaa to adopt an "index score" that would allow athletes to balance poor scores on standardized college-entrance tests with better performance in meeting the 2.0 grade-point-average criterion. The presidents plan, he said, to consult with other groups before developing a specific proposal for ncaa ratification.

Earlier this month, another group of presidents--the American Council on Education's committee on Division I athletics, which had helped draft Proposition 48--also discussed its willingness to see the rule modified. Leaders of black colleges have been particularly opposed to the rule as discriminating against black athletes.

A commission headed by Clark Kerr, the former president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and of the University of California, argues in a new report that the strength of the college and university presidency has been weakened. The group says that college presidents are saddled with "many unnecessary burdens in the conduct of their duties" and that "new constraints, outside the control of higher education, bind the presidents as never before in their freedom of action."

These constraints, the report says, include federal and state controls, growing court participation in academic decisionmaking, and more student influence in campus governance.

The report, "Presidents Make a Difference," was sponsored by the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges.

Citing a "deep concern" about the usefulness of the Scholastic Aptitude Test, officials of Maine's Bates College say they have dropped the sat as an admission requirement. Bates joins a handful of selective colleges that have made the scores optional for admission.--mm

Vol. 04, Issue 08

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