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UA to pay for NCAA rule

By Michael Lafleur
Arizona Daily Wildcat
March 10, 1999
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Due to a reporting error, the Pacific 10 Conference commissioner's name was misspelled in the Arizona Daily Wildcat's March 10 article "UA to pay for NCAA rule." Tom Hansen is the Pac-10 conference commissioner. The Wildcat regrets the error.

A $54.5 million settlement between entry-level college coaches and the NCAA will cost the UA an undetermined share of the damages, but the university's athletic assistants are unable to cash in on the lawsuit.

Jim Rosborough, associate head coach for University of Arizona men's basketball, joined five other Division I coaches to register the first official complaints about the salary cap with the NCAA. But Rosborough decided to abstain from the litigation.

Under the terms of the agreement, the National Collegiate Athletic Association and member schools will reimburse about 2,000 Division I assistant coaches subjected to a $16,000 salary cap.

"I'm really personally sad about the whole thing," Rosborough said. "Nobody wanted this from our side."

The settlement is the final pay-off for three years of legal wrangling, from 1992 to 1995, arising from the coaches' class action lawsuit.

The NCAA will pay about $22 million of the bill through cost-cutting measures and reserve revenues. The rest of the tab will be divided up among the 310 Division I schools.

There is a chance the larger universities, such as the University of Arizona, will have to pay for a greater piece of the pie although no UA coaches pursued litigation.

Tom Hanson, the Pacific 10 Conference commissioner, said he thought each Pac-10 school would probably be paying about $100,000 in the final analysis.

"It's not going to impose on the major programs in a very noticeable way," Hanson said. "I think as far as individual sports go you won't see any change."

The salary cap created 14 more positions at the UA as an incentive for younger coaches, but restricted Rosborough's earnings - which already exceeded $16,000 - because the rule also targeted men's basketball's smaller player-coach ratio.

"I was one of the ones that got the thing started," Rosborough said. "I do feel that it was unfair and didn't need to get to this."

He added that the restricted earnings rule "hurt an awful lot of people."

However, the UA's part-time coaches have not been constrained with a salary cap since the rule was eliminated.

"It became an open market," said Kathleen LaRose, the UA's associate athletic director. "Generally, salaries have gone up."

Hanson said because 304 Division I schools voted for restricted coaches earnings, he hoped the financial burden would not weigh too heavily on the shoulders of the bigger schools.

The restricted earnings rule, which was conceived in 1991 and took effect in 1992, was ruled to be in violation of federal antitrust law in 1995 by a U.S. District judge in Kansas City, Kan. An appellate court upheld that ruling and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case.

The parties have been haggling over price ever since.

Individual coaches will be able to submit claims pending a judge's approval of the settlement, but no UA coach was named in the lawsuit. The amount received will be based on what the assistants earned under the cap and what their schools would otherwise have paid them.

The rule capped salaries for part-time entry-level assistants in various sports, excluding football, at $12,000 for the academic year and $4,000 for the summer.

The rule actually added a position to many collegiate sports, LaRose said. But in men's basketball, it relegated a fourth assistant coach to a capped salary position.

"People wanted to cut costs and they also really wanted to cut out a fourth (basketball) coach position," Hanson said. "There were some (programs) where, through basketball summer camps, they were paying the fourth coach $50,000-$60,000 per year," he said.

The restricted earnings program was developed to provide younger people with the opportunity to enter the profession. It was geared to cover the costs of graduate school, although graduate study was not a requirement, Hanson said.

Rosborough, however, said while the rule helped younger coaches, it harmed basketball coaches already in their positions at the time of the rule.

"There were already, at probably 305 of the 310 schools, guys that were in this spot," Rosborough said. "They (NCAA) said 'too bad, you guys are out.' They had some reasons, maybe to open things up for younger guys, but the reality of it was in almost every school in the division they had somebody in that position."

Basketball coaches started the lawsuit, which eventually grew to include representatives from other sports.

"These people (basketball coaches) were putting in 12, 14, or 16 hour days like everyone else," Rosborough said. "We were told time and again that they were going to get it straightened out."

The delay in correcting the rule led to litigation, he said.

Hanson said a major NCAA objection to the trial was the fact the judge did not consider the various sports' potential for monetary gain.

"One of the unfortunate things that happened in the lawsuit was the judge treated everybody like they could be making more than $12,000," he said. "It was a selfish thing."