O’Dell: Prop 42 is discriminatory

By Jeff Kirik

Conventions are commonly thought of as events where people go to relax and have a little fun.

But after several days of meetings and discussions on 147 pieces of legislation at this year’s NCAA convention, NIU Athletic Director Gerald O’Dell considers conventions hard work.

This year’s convention, which was held in San Francisco from Jan. 8-12, caused controversy by passing Proposal 42, an amendment to Proposition 48. Prop 42 does not allow an athlete to have a scholarship unless he passes both the testing and gpa requirements of Proposition 48. In the past, athletes who pass only one of the requirements have been able to get a scholarship.

O’Dell, who cast the one NIU vote on all proposals, said he voted against Prop 42.

“The reason we voted against (Prop 42) is, number one, because I would like to see (Prop 48) left alone awhile, so we could make, hopefully, some intelligent decisions and honest assessments of it using data being accumulated at this time,” O’Dell said.

Prop 42 has caused nationwide protest by college coaches who feel the rule will make it harder for a student of a lower socio-economic class to get an education.

“I think the intent of Proposition 48 is good,” 0’Dell said, “but reflecting on Proposal 42 and its passage, it concerns me a great deal because I do believe it’s culturally discriminatory.

“We let other students in at Northern through the CHANCE Program and all of a sudden we’re discriminating against the student-athlete. Data does indicate that those who score the lowest on the SAT and ACT are the minoritities.”

Several other proposals dealing with Proposition 48, also known as NCAA Bylaw 5-1-(j), arose during the convention. O’Dell said NIU favored only one of those proposals—one which gave Prop 48 victims an extra year of eligibility for making necessary progress toward a degree. The proposal was voted down 179-135.

“I have a real hard time with the fact that a student loses a year of eligibility because they do not meet initial entrance requirements,” O’Dell said. “Fine, redshirt them. Don’t allow them to practice. Don’t allow them to play their first year. Not being able to practice for a year is penalty enough. But to take away a year of eligibility, too—that’s discouraging.”

NIU voted against two measures that probably would have had a direct effect on Huskie football recruiting, O’Dell said. One rule dealt with expanding from 25 to 30 the number of grid scholarships that can be given to first-year players. The other would have allowed coaches to scout future prospects during Fridays in October. Present rules prohibit coaches from going to prep games until November.

Because NIU is located close to its main recruiting ground (Chicago), O’Dell said tighter rules on recruiting periods and scholarship levels prevent other schools from going long distances to compete for recruits in this area. Both proposals failed.

O’Dell said he had pre-convention meetings with Associate ADs Clarence Hudson and Cary Groth, faculty representative Nancy Vedral, former NIU AD Robert Brigham and President John LaTourette to discuss how NIU should vote on each piece of legislation.