National Collegiate Athletic Association

The NCAA News - Briefly in the News

May 19, 1997

Texas A&M adds to certification

Officials at Texas A&M University, College Station, have added student-athlete welfare as a supplementary part of their NCAA athletics certification process.

The certification process requires that Division I institutions periodically examine their athletics programs in the areas of academic integrity, fiscal integrity, governance and commitment to rules compliance, and commitment to equity. The self-studies are evaluated by peer-review teams, with the NCAA Committee on Athletics Certification eventually determining whether the institution is certified, certified with conditions or not certified.

Assistant athletics director John Thornton, who is acting as the university's liaison for athletics certification, said that the student-athlete subcommittee involved in the self-study process teamed with the university's ongoing Student-Athlete Advisory Committee to host an open forum that included participants from all of the institution's 19 intercollegiate athletics teams.

Jan Winniford, associate vice-president for student affairs and chair of the student-athlete welfare subcommittee, said the forum was well-attended and productive.

"The forum was highly successful," Winniford said, "with more than 80 athletes interacting among themselves and with faculty and staff members who served as facilitators for the discussions. The students spent considerable time discussing perceptions of their athletics experience on campus, and they offered some good observations that will be invaluable in compiling material for the certification process and addressing issues related to student-athlete welfare."

Metal-bat preference

A survey by the National High School Baseball Coaches Association showed that a substantial percentage of high-school baseball coaches prefer metal bats.

The survey asked coaches: "Are you concerned with the use of the aluminum bat?" to which 26 percent said yes and 74 percent said no. Of those who said yes, most were concerned with safety.

The survey also asked about the weight-to-length ratio that is under consideration by the NCAA. On the question "Do you believe the position by the NCAA Baseball Rules Committee that something must be done with the aluminum bat is warranted?" the response was more divided than on the first question, with 38 percent answering yes and 49 percent answering no.

Coaches who offered comments acknowledged that aluminum bats may improve offensive performance, but they said other factors are present, too, such as stronger athletes, better coaching, declining pitching and a shrinking strike zone.

And, there was the question of cost.

"I've been coaching 23 years and the quality has never been better," said Jerry Dawson, coach of Chaparral High School in Arizona. "If we moved to wood, I would see some programs facing elimination because of lack of budget."

An ordered cycle

Timothy Dockery, a junior designated hitter for the Francis Marion University baseball team, did the unusual in an unusual way April 23 in a 22-4 win over Benedict College.

Batting in the fifth position in the Patriot lineup, Dockery hit for the cycle in order.

In the first inning, he singled. In the third inning, he doubled. In the fourth inning, he tripled. In the fifth inning, he homered. He left the game after Francis Marion batted around in the fifth.

He finished the game 4-for-4 with three runs scored and three runs batted in.

Visible support

An athletics fund-raising program at Hastings College has a valuable supporter: alumnus Tom Osborne, football coach at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.

Osborne recently announced a campaign for a two-year, $15 million fund-raising effort for development of a new football stadium, sports arena and scholarship program at Hastings. The campaign, named "The Osborne Legacy Project," is a tribute to the Osborne family's longstanding history and involvement with Hastings.

The first Osborne to graduate from Hastings was Thomas C. Osborne in 1901. Tom's father, Charles, is a long-time member of the board of trustees. His brother, Jack, also is an alumnus. In addition, the current football facility, A. H. Jones Stadium, is named for Tom's great uncle.

-- Compiled by David Pickle


A $10.7 million facelift for Memorial Stadium at the University of Missouri, Columbia, is on schedule to be completed for Missouri's September 6 season-opening football game. Included in the upgrade are structural changes to bring the stadium into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, listening-assisted devices for the hearing-impaired, an improved scoreboard, more restrooms and heated restrooms, exterior sidewalks, repaved parking lots, an expanded concession area, and a computer-controlled fountain on the concourse above the field. Construction is scheduled to be completed in August.

The soccer stadium at the University of Connecticut has been renamed the Joseph J. Morrone Stadium in honor of Morrone, who retired as head coach of men's soccer at Connecticut after the 1996 season. Morrone coached at the school for 28 years, compiling a 358-178-53 record. A $250,000 soccer endowment also was named for him by the athletics department. A dedication of the stadium is planned for the 1997 soccer season.

Men's and women's soccer teams and the women's softball team at Westminster College (Missouri) will have new home facilities for the 1997-98 academic year. Construction begins following the removal of the existing softball field. A new soccer field will replace the softball field and a new softball field will be constructed nearby. The new fields are part of a long-range plan at the college that began with construction of the Wetterau Center for Field Sports last November.

The track and field complex at Louisiana Tech University has been renamed the Jim Mize Track and Field Complex. For 24 years, Mize served as head track and field/cross country coach and an assistant football coach at Louisiana Tech before relinquishing his football duties in 1970. He retired from the staff in 1977. As track and field coach, Mize guided the Bulldogs to three league championships. He is a member of the Louisiana Tech Hall of Fame.