OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) - Fearful of widespread cheating, the NCAA on Wednesday delayed for one year a plan to allow college athletes to hold part-time jobs.
Known as Proposition 62, the right-to-work rule was narrowly adopted by Division I schools last January and hailed as proof that athletes finally gained a voice in NCAA policymaking.
It was supposed to take effect this month. But a newly formed board of college presidents, in its first major action, said more study was needed on the "complexities of the issue."
"We fully expect to have a program in the fall of 1998 that allows athletes to work," said Kenneth Shaw of Syracuse, head of the 15-member board of directors.
Bridget Niland, a former distance runner and head of the student-athlete advisory committee, argued forcefully on the convention floor last January, virtually shaming schools into passing the rule.
"The student-athletes are disappointed at the board's decision on several levels," Niland told The Associated Press. "We never wanted athletic departments to have to become job-placement counselors for us. This was just to give us an opportunity to find a job if we could. But what happened is that old fear of abuse. That's the reason for this delay."
Shaw, speaking in a conference call, said important issues have not been addressed.
"We found widespread support for delaying for one year ... to give us time to evaluate and develop guidelines and procedures to monitor student employment programs," he said.
Niland said the athletes' committee had even suggested that athletes be held solely accountable for any abuse of the rule, which would not have let anyone earn more than about $1,500-$3,000 per year.
"We asked for permission to speak to the board for just 15 minutes about some alternative ideas the student-athletes had, and we were denied permission," Niland said.
"And what about student-athletes who decided not to work this summer thinking they could make up the difference with their part-time jobs this fall? A lot of student-athletes might now be caught in a cash crisis because they fully expected to be able to hold jobs, jobs they might already have arranged."
Opponents warned in January that however noble the purpose of Proposition 62 might be, it was ripe for misuse.
Athletes could get paid for make-believe jobs or collect more money than allowed. There was also worry that schools in small towns and rural areas would be at a recruiting disadvantage. There are more jobs in California, for example, than in Nebraska.
Under the new NCAA structure, schools no longer have a direct vote in legislation. But Shaw insisted the ruling bodies of college sports will come back with something similar to Proposition 62.
"We want to make it happen and we want it done right. Hence, the reason for the delay," Shaw said.
Niland was skeptical.
"How confident can we be?" she said. "If they're committed, OK, let's see some action."
In other votes, high schools may begin verifying core courses as required for freshman eligibility standards. The current process has been criticized as slow and cumbersome.