of a distinguished panel discussed the latest reform efforts in
intercollegiate athletics during a program Sept. 4 in Elon University's
McCrary Theatre. The program was taped by a crew from UNC-TV for
broadcast at 10 p.m. Oct. 17 and for national distribution to PBS
panel, chaired by William Friday, president emeritus of the University
of North Carolina, featured NCAA president Myles Brand; ESPN college
basketball analyst Len Elmore; Wake Forest University president
Thomas Hearn; Southern Conference commissioner Danny Morrison; and
North Carolina State women's basketball coach Kay Yow.
School of Communications
students worked the event, covering it to fulfill course assignments
and as representatives of student-media organizations. Reporters
from the Raleigh News & Observer, the Greensboro News &
Record and the Burlington Times-News were there, as well as the
national columnist for Sports Illustrated Online, Mike Fish.
agreed that many of the current scandals in intercollegiate athletics,
such as those at Baylor University, Ohio State University and others,
can be traced to the growing influence of money.
ceased to think of the reform movement as something with a conclusion,
from which we will move on," said Hearn, who along with Friday
has served on the Knight Commission on athletic reform. "There
is a different culture today, one of a professional and business
nature," Hearn said, lamenting the end of a society where sports
was seen as a healthy, wholesome activity for young people, with
its roots in schools, churches and the community. "More and
more, young people are looking at college sports not as a learning
opportunity, but as the first step in business."
pointed out though that for schools that don't receive large sums
of money from television contracts and apparel deals, commercialization
is helpful. "Commercialization gets a bad name because of excessiveness.
But at our level, it's pretty helpful," Morrison said, citing
the example of TIAA-CREF, which sponsors the Southern Conference's
academic awards program. "Commercialization is not necessarily
inherently bad, only when it becomes excessive."
testified earlier in the day before a congressional committee in
Washington, D.C., about the current Bowl Championship Series in
college football, said colleges and universities must return to
a philosophy that includes athletics as a part of the overall learning
process for students, not a separate entity.
are academic institutions, educating young men and women and producing
research that betters the lives of all, and the key is to find the
way that intercollegiate athletics can be integrated into that mission.
The most important step is to make academic reform," Brand
attorney and former basketball All-American at the University of
Maryland, cautioned that reform should take a balanced approach.
"We have to look at the execution (of reform efforts),"
Elmore told the audience of 550. "It's all about the execution.
The rhetoric is all in the right direction, and we should force
young people to understand there are expectations in exchange for
participation on the field." But he criticized the role money
has come to play in college athletics. "To what extent are
we going to compromise ethics for the love of money?" he asked.
"What's most important is advocacy of what's right... It's
still about the almighty dollar. Those who are in charge of universities
have to come to the point where they take charge. (Right now) the
dollar is in charge. If there was some sort of treaty here; if we
say, 'This is where we draw the line.' But the stand has to be collective."
Yow, a Hall
of Fame member who began her coaching career at Elon in the 1970s,
said college coaches understand they are being scrutinized for the
behavior of their players, both on the field and in the classroom.
are starting to take action where action is needed. We are being
held more accountable now than we ever have been."
said he believes there is a good-faith effort among coaches to re-examine
their responsibilities, as evidenced by a mandatory Oct. 15 meeting
called by the National Association of Basketball coaches to address
coaches are offended by the bad actors among them," Brand said.
"They are beginning to say that the integrity of that profession
is being harmed, and they will make statements to that effect."
said it is incumbent upon those in higher education to achieve reform,
without intervention from Congress. "The Congressmen and women,
just like everyone else in the United States, are very interested
in college sports," Brand said. "They have great interest
in making sure the games are fair and (are played) with integrity,
and their interests are proper. But they're not going to intervene
unless we screw up, to tell you the truth."
difficulties, Brand sees a bright future for college athletics.
am optimistic. Not blindly and naively optimistic, but I am optimistic.
It will not be easy and we will never be perfect. We will never
satisfy our critics, because they are in the business of being critics.
But that's okay, because they are saying things that maybe we don't
want to hear but we need to hear, because they are important and
right. Advocacy and reform go hand in hand."
leaders in the reform movement to ask the right questions, and to
remember the original purpose of college athletics. "People
say, 'This is a business,' she said. "If I've heard that once,
I've heard it a million times. That mindset is one of our problems.
You have to have the mindset that this is about education first
and foremost. The business mindset is creating the problems."