Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Sports Shorts

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Sports Shorts

Article excerpt

Big 12 Decides To Keep Tougher Eligibility Rules

Big 12 presidents, overruling most of their football coaches, voted to proceed with initial eligibility standards that are tougher than the NCAA's and those of most other conferences.

In an unusual gesture, however, the presidents did allow coaches to sit in on their meeting while Nebraska's Tom Osborne made their case.

"I was able to talk to them briefly about some of the coaches' concerns," said Osborne. "It's encouraging at least that they were willing to listen. I see a good sign there, at least."

"We're very receptive and concerned about the points he made," said Texas A&M president Ray Bowen, who was elected chairman Monday of the presidents' group. "It didn't cause us to change any of our previous decisions. But it's going to continue to be an issue for discussion."

With Texas threatening to bolt the fledgling conference last December, Big 12 presidents voted unanimously to let each school enroll two male and two female partial qualifiers each year, and exclude non-qualifiers altogether.

As defined by the NCAA's new Proposition 16 requirements, partial qualifiers lack either the minimum standardized test score for freshman eligibility or the minimum grade point in core courses. They can practice and receive financial aid as freshmen but cannot play.

Most of Big 12 football coaches said this will put the league at a competitive disadvantage since other conferences have more liberal admission standards.

"As a general rule, we're talking about the Big 12 being a premier football league that hopes to compete for national recognition on a regular basis," said Kansas coach Glen Mason. "I think that's a fair and reasonable goal. Why would you want to impose tighter restrictions than the NCAA has?"

Osborne said the problem is made worse for many Big 12 schools because they are not in densely populated areas.

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