By Phillip Whitten
INDIANAPOLIS. April 26. THE NCAA is likely to approve a measure this week that would allow college athletes to accept prize money for their performances in the Olympics, World Championships and other top-level meets.
The measure is one of several the organization's board of directors is considering in meetings in Indianapolis that would affect the financial situations of college athletes. Other measures would allow athletes to accept fees for teaching lessons in their sport, to take out loans based on projected future income and permit the NCAA to pay disability premiums for qualified athletes. The vote comes amid a growing sentiment that athletes should be compensated for their services.
If the measure allowing athletes to accept money for their Olympic performances passes it may open the door for such swimmers as Ed Moses, Megan Quann and Diana Munz to compete at the collegiate level. At the very least, it will allow future Olympic medalists to accept their prize money and still retain their college eligibility.
In the past, the NCAA has enforced its restrictions prohibiting athletes to accept compensation for their performances or expertise to extreme measures:
* 1992 Olympian Scott Jaffe was suspended from NCAA eligibility for six months after it was revealed that he had been teaching swimming lessons to young children for $7.50 an hour to raise money for his college tuition.
* Following the 1996 Olympics, Tom Malchow, silver medalist in the 200m fly, asked permission to have his prize money donated to a scholarship fund for needy student athletes at the high school from which he graduated. The NCAA refused.
The NCAA calls the moves "consistent with proposals to deregulate NCAA amateurism rules." The organization sees them as steps to ward off talk of paying athletes, rather than as measures that will lead, eventually, to paying athletes.