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NCAA squashes proposal on early scholarship offers

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PAUL J. WEBER | January 13, 2011 10:27 PM EST | AP

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SAN ANTONIO — The NCAA squashed a proposal Thursday that would have stopped college coaches from offering scholarships to students as young as middle-schoolers, one of several closely watched measures that were either defeated or set aside by NCAA rule-makers.

The legislative council also voted down tougher academic restrictions for incoming basketball players at the NCAA's annual convention. Another proposal intended to tighten the use of college athletes in promotional activities was sent back to NCAA members for more comment.

The defeat of the early scholarship proposal came after another NCAA committee last year backed the idea. It would have prohibited scholarships offers in all sports to recruits before July 1 in the summer between their junior and senior years in high school.

"The concern is how is that enforceable? You don't want to adopt legislation you can't enforce," said Shane Lyons, chairman of the legislative council and the ACC's associate commissioner.

The issue has drawn headlines when some men's basketball coaches started making offers to middle school players. Lyons imagined the proposal creating a constant cycle of flung allegations over schools secretly promising young athletes scholarship offers.

"There would be allegations all the time," he said.

The issue involving likeness of student athletes could be revisited in three to four months, Lyons said. Under the proposal, schools would have greater autonomy to use the likeness of their most recognizable stars in school and charitable promotions.

Lyons called it one of the "hottest topics" that the NCAA will continue to discuss over the next three to four months.

"There's some concern of potential exploitation and more and more uses of the student athlete's likeness," Lyons said.

In other council decisions, a proposal to move the date players can withdraw from the NBA draft and return to school from late May to mid-April was sent out for more comment. So was a proposal prohibiting players from opting out of the sickle-cell trait test.