Tougher NCAA ticket proposal could hurt MAC

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 5, 2000

The Associated Press

TOLEDO – The Mid-American Conference could be hit hard if an NCAA proposal to toughen football attendance requirements is enacted in its present form.

Wednesday, July 05, 2000

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TOLEDO – The Mid-American Conference could be hit hard if an NCAA proposal to toughen football attendance requirements is enacted in its present form.

The plan calls for Division I-A schools to average 17,000 per home game over a four-year period or be dropped to Division I-AA, and it further requires that the count be actual filled seats, not tickets sold.

Of the 13 MAC schools, only Marshall, Toledo and Western Michigan appear to be on solid Division I-A ground, The Blade reported in a recent story.

”My concern is that attendance at an institution’s football game shouldn’t be the only measure of who we are,” Miami of Ohio Athletics Director Joel Maturi told the newspaper. ”There’s a great history here.”

The proposed change is directed at slowing the movement of I-AA programs to Division I-A, college football’s highest level.

”I think we have to reinforce what I-A football is predicated on, make people stand up to these standards if they want to play I-A football,” said Syracuse Athletics Director Jake Crouthamel. He is chairman of the NCAA’s Football Issues Committee, which proposed the change.

The issue also has a foundation in the I-AA ranks. That’s where a number of league commissioners have expressed alarm over the loss of members to I-A, each change causing a somewhat chaotic reshuffling of the alignment of certain conferences.

A move to I-A in football means enhanced status for a school and its program in terms of recruiting, scheduling and donor solicitations, and has other positive financial implications, said Dennis Pope, a liaison on football issues in the NCAA office.

A drop from I-A to I-AA would have the opposite effect.

”There is a certain amount of prestige if you play in the top classification, and there is certainly a potential financial gain in that you are in a position to make television appearances, do well and advance to a bowl game,” Pope said.

”On the other hand, moving down would likely mean a loss of those revenues, and possibly difficulty scheduling opponents from the higher classification,” he said.

The proposal is expected to be voted on in October by the NCAA Management Council, then passed on to the school presidents and chancellors on the NCAA board of directors, who have the final say on any changes.

That board of directors could implement the change for the 2001 season, starting the clock on a seven-year timetable to fully implement the new standard. Schools would have four years to establish their attendance average, then an additional three years to make the standard.

”This is a ways down the road, but it is not going to go away,” MAC commissioner Rick Chryst said. ”We’re not the target of this, but it is something we’re very cognizant of. We know we’ve got to work our tails off and get our attendance numbers up.”