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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Numbers game may be over

For the record, the University of Idaho isn’t sure if it met the NCAA requirement of averaging 15,000 for 2004 home football games, but it probably isn’t going to matter.

The NCAA Division I board of directors earlier this week said it will waive or revise the attendance rule, one of several conditions established prior to the 2004 season for schools to stay in Division I-A. Other attendance alternatives are expected to be discussed at an April meeting, Idaho athletic director Rob Spear said.

It would represent one less headache for Idaho, which has sweated out attendance criteria for years in its quest to remain I-A. The Vandals moved from I-AA to I-A in 1996.

“They’re talking about a variety of things, maybe even going as far as eliminating I-AA,” Spear said. “Their biggest concern is having a bunch of I-AAs moving up to I-A, which I don’t think is very likely because of the increased scholarships and the costs of the additional sports they would have to add to make the move.”

If the move is made to combine I-A and I-AA in Division I, as it is in basketball, the I-AA football playoffs and the current power base of the six I-A BCS conferences would probably continue to exist, Spear said.

At least five schools fell short of averaging 15,000, including San Jose State of the WAC, the conference Idaho will join this fall, and Middle Tennessee, a member of the Sun Belt, Idaho’s former home.

“Some people think there will be some attendance (condition), but what it will be is across the board,” Spear said.

Idaho is awaiting audited figures from its Sept. 18 game with Washington State at Martin Stadium. Either way, Idaho will probably be within 1,000 of averaging 15,000. Feb. 15 had been the deadline for submitting attendance figures, but that probably won’t be required following the board’s action.