Archive for Wednesday, February 26, 1992

JUDGING THE NCAA

February 26, 1992

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— A House panel Tuesday examined NCAA sanctions imposed against Kansas University while considering whether the state should require the association to abide by constitutional guarantees when dealing with member schools.

A House Federal and State Affairs subcommittee is studying a bill sponsored by Sen. Wint Winter Jr., R-Lawrence, that would force the National Collegiate Athletic Assn., headquartered in Overland Park, to expand due process protections it provides in investigations and punishments.

Rep. Robert Krehbiel, D-Pretty Prairie, chair of the subcommittee, said he was concerned that in 1988, the NCAA made innocent KU basketball players bear the brunt of NCAA sanctions and allowed the people who broke the rules to avoid responsibility.

KREHBIEL SAID the subcommittee's task would be to resolve these questions: Are Kansas universities and students being harmed by NCAA policies? Should the state have a role in seeking a remedy? If so, what should the role be?

In 1988, the NCAA placed KU's basketball program on probation for three years for violations that involved Memphis State player Vincent Askew, who said he planned to transfer to KU. The infractions occurred when Larry Brown was coach.

Under terms of the NCAA penalty, KU's basketball team was banned from defending its national title in 1989, and the KU basketall program was prohibited from paying for recruiting visits by athletes for one year.

Askew's eligiblity wasn't affected at Memphis State. He now plays in the NBA. Brown resigned from KU to take a job in the NBA before the NCAA's penalties were imposed.

KREHBIEL ASKED a supporter and opponent of the bill whether KU basketball players, such as Mike Maddox, were damaged by the NCAA sanctions even though Maddox and others weren't involved with these rules violations. Maddox testified last week that he was damaged by the sanctions.

"For student athletes . . . the national tournament is hands down the most important," said Bob Timmons, former KU track coach, who endorsed the bill. "When they're restricted from that, certainly it hurts them. Especially when they're not responsible for the violation."

Steve Morgan, associate executive director of the NCAA, said, "I don't think I would characterize it as personal injury."

Another subcommittee member, Rep. Dale Sprague, R-McPherson, said it was unfair for Askew to come to Lawrence, break NCAA rules, leave town and let "KU suffer for it."

REP. DON SMITH, D-Dodge City, who is a retired district judge and the third subcommittee member, questioned whether the NCAA's decision in the KU case made sense.

"I'm particularly concerned about having the punishment fit the crime," Smith said.

Sprague, an attorney, said the NCAA's organization lacked internal checks and balances. The NCAA combines legislative, executive and judicial branches, he said.

"I don't see any independence of the judiciary side," Sprague said.

The subcommittee used Tuesday's session to question individuals who testified last week on the bill. Krehbiel said more subcommittee discussion was needed to formulate a recommendation for the full House committee.

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