NCAA dishonored by few 'renegades'
By CHARLES ODUM
ATLANTA — Education Secretary Arne Duncan praised the NCAA for developing leaders yesterday while sharply criticizing "renegade" coaches and calling for players to remain in college at least two years before leaving for the NBA.
"The extraordinary power of intercollegiate sports can train young men and women in ways that can't be done in any other way," said Duncan, the son of a longtime NCAA faculty representative, who delivered the keynote speech at the NCAA convention.
"Why do we allow the NCAA, why do we allow universities, why do we allow sports to be tainted when the vast majority of coaches and athletic directors are striving to instill the right values?" Duncan asked. "Why do we allow our reputations, our universities and the NCAA as a whole to be stained by the actions of a few?"
Duncan said he's troubled by the recent accusations of the mistreatment of players by college football coaches. He also criticized coaches who move to new jobs while their former schools are being investigated for violations.
"It's troubling. It's disturbing," Duncan said. "It's disturbing when you see folks run a program into the ground and somehow get a pay raise when they jump to the next place."
NCAA interim president Jim Isch said Duncan's speech was "fantastic."
"I just think he made some interesting observations I know we'll be talking about in the months and years ahead," Isch said.
"I think we're all concerned about the coaches that are able to leave and leave their problems behind," Isch added. "We're in the process as well of trying to address that issue. I think we'll make progress in the next year in the legislative cycle."
Duncan said the NCAA "continues, unfortunately, to be very publicly defamed by renegade coaches or institutions who don't respect you, who don't respect your values and in their heart have no true concern for the student-athletes they are supposed to lead."
Duncan suggested programs should be forced to graduate a certain percentage of student-athletes to qualify for postseason play. He proposed "a bit of a bargain" for coaches who lead clean programs, encouraging them to maintain more time with players away from the sport.
"But when programs are living with the wrong values, I think we need to hold coaches personally responsible for the wrong leadership," he said.
Duncan also called it a "farce" for college basketball players to pose as students for only one semester before entering the NBA draft.
"I know the NCAA doesn't control any of this at all, and I understand that," he said, before encouraging the NBA to change its rules on draft eligibility.
"Let them go to school for a full year," he said. "Let them take real classes. Let them maintain a GPA. Let them get a sense of the college community and I think they'll grow and I think they'll mature and I think they'll have an opportunity after the second or third year to take that step."
The NBA declined to comment on Duncan's suggestions.
The NCAA is continuing its search to replace the late president Myles Brand, and announced a $500,000 donation to the Myles Brand Chair in Cancer Research at the Indiana University School of Medicine. He was 67 when he died of pancreatic cancer on Sept. 16, 2009, and his disease was disclosed at last year's NCAA convention.
Brand was posthumously honored with the Gerald R. Ford Award for his contributions to intercollegiate athletics. His wife Peg and son Josh accepted the award.
Earlier yesterday, the Division I Legislative Council voted to prohibit schools from hiring anyone associated with a basketball recruit for two years before or after the player enrolls.
The council did not pass a proposal to limit who can be hired as camp instructors.
Joe D'Antonio, the chairman of the council, said schools were concerned they would not be able to stage camps with a limited number of employees. He said there is "overwhelming support" at the annual NCAA convention for other proposals to clean up basketball recruiting, which may be voted on in April.
The proposal passed by the council must be affirmed by the Division I board of directors.