Spring football may undergo changes

By Dan Moran

assistant sports editor

As things stand now, the NIU football team has two days of spring workouts until Thursday night’s annual intrasquad scrimmage.

But events in the next few months may determine whether the Huskies and other NCAA football programs will be allowed the luxury of full spring practice sessions after this year.

According to men’s Athletic Director Robert Brigham, the NCAA President’s Commission drew up several proposals for trimming spring football, at a conference early this month. Brigham said the exact proposal will be announced when the agenda is set for the president’s conference around April 30.

NIU Head Coach Jerry Pettibone said he has been keeping an eye on how his program will be spending its springs in the future.

“It’s not to eliminate it totally,” Pettibone said. “It’s to cut down on the number of contact days. There’s actually several proposals. Most have to do with reductions in the length of spring practice.”

Brigham said there are two focuses behind the move to tone down spring practice.

“First of all they want to reduce the amount of time an athlete spends on his sport, and second would be to alleviate costs. But the primary consideration would be to reduce the athlete’s time,” Brigham said.

The current load is a five-week session with 20 practices. Although there are no stipulations on how the practices are run, Pettibone said some proposals would limit the amount of time a team could spend in full gear.

“What some are saying is you can have 15 days in pads and the rest in shorts,” Pettibone said. “Some want to split it up and have 10 days with pads and 10 with no pads.”

Pettibone has said on more than one occasion that spring practice is the prime time for evaluating personnel. He said he would be against any reduction in the length or the structure of the session.

“From what I understand, the atmosphere is one amongst the presidents and administrators that there will be some type of reduction,” Pettibone said. “Of course I don’t like it. I think we have a quality game right now. I think the quality would be hurt.”

According to Pettibone, his staff is keeping active in the proceedings like Washington, D.C., lobbyists.

“The thing we would do here is do a good job of educating the president here at Northern of our needs. I’ve had many visits with Dr. Brigham and he’s had many visits with President LaTourette,” Pettibone said. “It’s a matter of the coaching staff and the administration keeping in tune.”

The issue will come to a head June 29 and 30 in Dallas at the NCAA president’s conference.