BIG STEP FOR THE BIG TEN
The Big Ten has enacted a bold and admirable new eligibility rule: Beginning in August 1989, any junior college transfer who has previously been ineligible for play at an NCAA institution under the academic requirements of Bylaw 5-1-(j) will be required to sit out a year before becoming eligible to play at a Big Ten school. This step was taken because a disturbing number of J.C. transfers arrive at four-year schools as athletic juniors but academic sophomores; when they have completed their four years of athletic eligibility, they're far short of the credits necessary for a degree.
"If you accept the premise that it takes at least 4� years for most athletes to graduate, then the typical transfer student is a long way from graduating when he completes his eligibility," says Big Ten associate commissioner John Dewey. "All we're saying is that if they have to play in their fifth year, they'll be much closer to graduation, and that will be an incentive to graduate."
It's an impressive move, considering that it could cost the conference dearly in the annual sweepstakes for juco stars—an increasingly valuable basketball talent pool (SI, Nov. 18). Much will depend on whether the NCAA decides to adopt the rule on a national basis at its convention, beginning Jan. 10, an unlikely prospect. "I have a hard time seeing it pass on a national level," says ACC commissioner Gene Corrigan. "I don't think most people want to go that far. They feel that [Bylaw 5-1-(j)] is working pretty well as it is."
Says Dewey, "It depends on whether you're looking at academics or athletics. If you're concerned about graduation rates, this is a way to improve them."
When Central Michigan scores its first field goal of a home game, its fans customarily pelt the court with toilet paper. A lot of toilet paper. Sports information director Fred Stabley estimates that between 3,000 and 4,500 rolls of toilet paper are usually thrown, causing an instant blizzard that brings the game to a grinding halt. The maintenance staff has the cleanup procedure down to a science; it removes the debris in a matter of three or four minutes.
But before this season the Mid-American Conference passed a new regulation, widely known as the Central Michigan Rule, mandating another five-minute warmup period for both teams after the cleanup. And to discourage the fans from such behavior altogether, the conference warned the Chippewas' athletic director, Dave Keilitz, that continuation of the toilet-paper tradition could result in a technical foul being assessed against the home team.
The true test of the new edict will come on Jan. 13, when Central Michigan plays Cleveland State in its first home game with school back in session. "We'll have baskets at the gate for the kids to throw their toilet paper in," says Stabley. "But there won't be any frisking. It's basically an honor system."