SI Vault
Edited by Craig Neff and Robert Sullivan
December 22, 1986
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December 22, 1986


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Next month marks the 15th anniversary of the NCAA's decision to allow freshmen to compete at the varsity level in big-time college football and basketball. It was an unexpected and highly controversial decision at the time—one opposed by many coaches and most academicians, and motivated by economics—and it has proved to be a mistake. Colleges hoped to save money by eliminating freshman teams and squeezing an extra year of play from their athletes, and they've done so. But in the process they have made it tougher for freshman athletes to adjust to college, both academically and socially.

Joe Paterno isn't the only one pushing for a return to freshman ineligibility (page 64). Last month the presidents and chancellors of six major universities—Maryland, North Carolina, N.C. State, UCLA, Miami and Minnesota—submitted a resolution to the NCAA advocating an end to freshman eligibility in Division 1-A football and Division 1 men's basketball. Division 1 schools will vote on the matter at the NCAA convention, to be held in San Diego from Jan. 6 to 10. Passage of the resolution would place the freshman eligibility issue on the 1988 NCAA convention agenda.

Various aspects of the issue will no doubt be debated in San Diego: Does an athlete retain four years of eligibility even though he sits out as a freshman? Would ineligibility undercut Bylaw 5-1(J), which sets minimum academic standards for entering freshman athletes? Would freshmen be allowed to practice? With such questions yet unanswered, it's possible that the proposal could meet resistance or be tabled in San Diego. That would be a shame. A majority vote in favor of the measure would begin to turn the clock back 15 years—and thereby take collegiate sports a big step forward.

When Ohio State linebacker Chris Spielman was named a finalist for the Lombardi Award, coach Earle Bruce agreed to accompany him to the awards ceremony in Houston. He did so with trepidation. "I was reluctant to go, because I saw what was happening to coaches in Texas," Bruce said. "My winning percentage is only about 75 percent." Bruce added, "Hey, that's why you are seeing more coaches go into the cattle business—because cattle don't have alumni."


Lisa Ortlip-Cornish, coach of the women's basketball team at Ursinus College in Collegeville, Pa., is mixing career and motherhood very nicely. At practice sessions this season, Ortlip-Cornish has been carrying her two-month-old daughter, Brooke, against her chest in a baby harness. She leaves the infant there even as she coaches.

"Having to keep quiet at practice, that's the only real hassle," says Ortlip-Cornish, who as a player led Villanova to the AIAW final four in 1982. "That and not being able to run. What I'll do is have my assistants stand beside me, and I'll say "Yell this, yell that,' and they do."

Now, if only Bob Knight would give that a try....


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