Star-Bulletin Sports

Tuesday, April 24, 2001


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Exemption fight
gets political

NCAA Division I board
of directors to vote on college
basketball exemptions

Chaminade weighs in for exemptions

By Dave Reardon

U.S. SENATORS are among those already lined up to try and overturn NCAA legislation that -- if passed on Thursday -- could eventually damage or destroy men's college basketball tournaments.

The events at stake include tournaments hosted by all five of Hawaii's universities which annually attract some of the best teams in the nation.

"Everyone and their brother is affected and people are getting angry. So there are advocates other than Hawaii," University of Hawaii president Kenneth Mortimer said.

On April 10, the NCAA Division I management council approved a proposal to increase the maximum number of games a college team could play in a season to 29, but also count against the limit all games played in previous "certified" tournaments -- such as the Rainbow Classic and the Maui Invitational, the latter hosted by Chaminade. The way it stands now, teams can play in tournaments and count only one of three games against their maximum of 28.

Pending approval from the Division I board of directors Thursday, the new rules would go into effect for the 2002-03 season.

U.S. senators Daniel Inouye of Hawaii and Ted Stevens of Alaska combined in late January to draft a letter against the proposal, said Jennifer Sabas, Inouye's chief of staff.

"We're going with a wait-and-see attitude now," Sabas said. "It's clearly an issue that is important to the senator."

The original proposal included an amendment allowing an exception for events hosted by UH-Manoa, and another allowing an exception for single-elimination preseason events -- a category under which all the tournaments hosted by the five Hawaii schools would fall.

Neither amended proposal passed; the one making the exception for the Rainbows failed by just one vote.

The fight isn't over should the board, made up of university presidents, approve the passed proposal Thursday.

"There's a sense we can get it turned around," said Mortimer, who is not on the board.

Western Athletic Conference commissioner Karl Benson said the WAC will resubmit in July the proposal for an exception for UH-Manoa.

"I think there's opposition within the NCAA. The Hawaii amendment we proposed was very close," he said. "Hopefully we can move forward with legislation that will bring relief to the University of Hawaii."

Rainbows athletic director Hugh Yoshida said the decision-makers need to be better informed.

"We are concerned that some powers-that-be don't understand why it's important that the only Division I basketball school outside the continental United States should get consideration because of its geographical and division status," Yoshida said. "For us to compete in Division I, we have to have a certain number of contests against Division I teams. The exemptions are an incentive to come to Hawaii and play despite the added travel expense."

Many teams would lose money by sacrificing home games to come to Hawaii under the proposed new rules.

UH coach Riley Wallace has earlier expressed his concern about the issue, but is trying to remain optimistic whatever the outcome.

"There will always be teams that want to come to Hawaii," he said. "But we may have to change the way we do things."


Lucky Williams, a 6-foot-6 swingman and high school teammate of recent UH signee Tony Akpan, has signed a letter of intent with Alabama. Williams visited UH two weekends ago with Akpan, a 6-9 forward from Central Park Christian (Birmingham, Ala.). ... Mark Campbell, a 6-4 point guard from Clackamas (Ore.) Community College visited over the weekend, but had not decided to accept a scholarship from the Rainbows by late yesterday afternoon.

UH Athletics
Ka Leo O Hawaii

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