Archive for the ‘College basketball’Category

Before Colleges Cut Sports, They First Need To Fire Poor-Performing Professors, Just Like Coaches!

You don’t have to be a business to feel the crunch of the chilly economy. For that matter, you don’t have to see it in the cuts to services, be it jails, police, or fire staffing. As the world goes, so do sports.

At the collegiate level, the concern has been about how much money pours into athletic programs. One look at the increase in funding that have been used for the Oregon athletics program (one, mind you, that had been saying was self-sufficient), it’s clear that, at least for now, it’s costing more to run athletics than the revenues they pull in. Look no further than Cal who is seeing baseball, men’s and women’s gymnastics, ruby, and lacrosse axed from their program in order to cut $4 million and keep Cal in compliance with Title IX gender equity requirements.

With every university in the country feeling the turmoil of an economy as chilly as the winter snow, the funding of college athletics becomes an easy target for faculty and the media.  As a longtime faculty member with over 40 years experience, as well as a former academic advisor and director of athletics, I feel college presidents must stand up to the pressures that their faculty continue to pile on college athletics.  The issue is one of bureaucracy, as much as anything.

Simply put, when academic departments drop their  tenure policy and are willing to evaluate each professor on their latest accomplishments and terminate those who have become complacent and ineffective then they will realize how a strong vibrant athletic department has be accountable to their performance and an annual basis.  Maybe it is time for Professors to Face the Scrutiny Coaches Face Every Weekend!  Talk about Pressure!

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The New NCAA Head Coach Academic Progress Rate (APR) Portfolio where graduation rates of student athletes will be tracked to the head coach is a long overdue idea. The database (see it here) allows anyone with internet access to search the grad rates by school, sport, year, and thine coach’s first and/or last name. The fact that these numbers are open and readily available will place extra accountability on the programs to make sure that along with scoring points for a university on the field of play, the students are gaining the education in college that will serve the majority of the student athletes far more than a paycheck in the pros… if they ever get that far!

Simply put, when I as Assistant AD at University of Missouri as the Academic Advisor I jaw-boned and arm-twisted the coaches to require mandatory attendance for their athletes. My reason was that attendance is easily measured, cut-and-dry, and even though I couldn’t guarantee they will learn or will graduate someday I knew if they were held accountable, good things would happen.

Not only did we lead the Big 8 in graduation rates for football program during my five year tenure from 1980-85, I was also elected President of the N4A (National Association of Academic Advisors for Athletics) in 1985. When I pushed what I termed the Never Miss; Never Fail mantra as the president, it was astonishing how many colleagues were skeptical of being able to get their coaches to require attendance of their student athletes.

But, experience proves otherwise. In my over 40 years of being a professor, I can’t recall ever having to flunk a kid who came to class every day. Hopefully the new NCAA Head Coach APR portfolio becomes the catalyst for Never Miss: Never Fail. Most coaches do not realize if they enforce this rule and bench those who break it that eventually no athletes will miss and few athletes will fail to graduate, an extremely important matter of life after sports.

Now with online education, it makes Never Miss; Never Fail even more attainable!

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Future Athletic Directors Will Come From Diverse Backgrounds

For decades, most Athletic Directors came from coaching backgrounds. The fraternity of college athletics was a closed shop where who you knew was more important than what you know.

The challenges of leading a multi-million dollar operation that is directing the collegiate sports programs at an institution requires more than just a letter jacket and coaching record, it requires a diligence to monitor programs that are under constant pressure of seeing NCAA rules violations, while making sure that boosters and fans are happy with the bottom line: a winning record.

College athletics is the front porch of a university; the institution’s most visible front. The AD is responsible for making sure that the porch is swept clean every day, providing a shining example that reflects well on the university. In some cases, a weak AD allows the dirt to be swept under the rug where often times, the rug is pulled out from under him or her as the dirt surfaces through the media.

While Pat Haden certainly wore a letterman’s jacket, when he left USC and eventually, the NFL, he became a successful businessman.

“We want to compete ferociously and win in every sport, but we want to do it ethically and within the rules,” said Haden, a former Rhodes Scholar who became a venture capitalist after an NFL career with the Los Angeles Rams. “We’re going to have a culture of compliance around here. Every meeting is going to start with the No. 1 item as compliance. … We’re going to try to be perfect. When we make mistakes, we’re going to fess up, and we’re going to try to do better next time.”

In this case, I believe Haden meets the qualifications as a bright and successful business person, that also has a football background, and in that order!. Yes, the letter jacket helps in the beginning but as in all jobs one has to take the jacket off and deal with sweeping daily that front porch

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07 2010

Should the NCAA Go International with Men’s Basketball Tournament?

If you’ve been following the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB, you’ll notice that there has been a big push to play games internationally. Regular season games have been played by the NFL, MLB, and the NHL with the NBA talking about expanding overseas.

With the Men’s NCAA Tournament in full swing, maybe the idea of taking it to other countries is in order. It would help promote the NCAA worldwide.

March Madness is full of international flavor. A good example is the global flavor of rosters and backgrounds. Northern Iowa guard Ali Farokhmanesh’s father was an Olympic volleyball player from Iran and Denis Clemente, the guard from Kansas State is the second cousin of Baseball Hall of Fame outfielder Roberto Clemente. And these are just two examples of how recruiting has become an international game.

With the internet I predict you will see worldwide growth of NCAA-type collegiate programs in universities as well. Remember, Simon Frazier of Canada is a member of the NCAA!

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03 2010

Grad Rates of NCAA Tournament Players Could Be Bolstered Through Online Education

As a former president of the National Association of Academic Advisors for Athletics (N4A) at Missouri in 1985, I have an emotional investment in seeing college athletes succeed. It is always a great story to hear of a college athlete moving to the professional level, but I am as equally satisfied in knowing that those that don’t make the pros have garnered a solid college education that will serve them in life. After all, there’s a reason they’re called student-athletes with “student” at the front of the title.

So, I have been more than a little concerned with some information that was mentioned in the New York Times this week by Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who is also an ardent basketball fan.

”One out of five men’s teams in the NCAA tournament has graduated less than 40 percent of their players in recent years. If you can’t manage to graduate two out of five players,” Duncan said, ”how serious are the institution and the coach about their players’ academic success?”

The amount of ink that has been spilled over whether the reality of sports is all about winning, rather than the “seriousness” of institutions about academic success could fill a swimming pool. Boosters, who rarely are concerned about a player’s life in the work place after sports, drive athletic programs, often times at the determent to the student-athlete,

To fill the gap, online education offers options to those that may be struggling. The ability to harness the power of the internet allows those looking to further their education from the comfort of home and during off-time outside of a ridged “school bell” schedule.

Athletics teaches us incredible things about life, but playing the percentages, only a handful of college athletes have the stuff to move to the pros. It’s important that “student” remain in front of “athlete” for colligate players.

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03 2010

University faculty are in no position to complain about coaches’ salaries

As a college professor for many years and former athletic director at the NCAA Division I level, I can tell you that there are some things wrong with the way universities pay people.

And the faculty — and everyone else upset about this — can look inward before complaining about the athletic department. Coaches, you see, don’t have tenured positions. They are subject to losing their jobs at the drop of a football. They are responsible, basically, for running a multi-million dollar corporation. They have little job security and much personal scrutiny. They are paid like a lot of Americans are — on their market value.

Yes, a lot of athletes, coaches and entertainers of all stripes make more money than the president of the United States. So what? That’s what a free country is all about. There is nobody sitting on a council somewhere deciding what we all should earn for our jobs. It’s the market that decides it.

On the other hand, university faculty, often envious of the large salary major-college coaches receive, are tenured after a period of time and often can’t lose their jobs and continue to get raises even if they’re incapable of doing their assigned tasks at their school.

I would suggest this: faculty and university presidents have every right to demand academic accountability of their coaches. They should demand coaches not only bring quality people and motivated student-athletes to their campus but that they be responsible for those people getting a college education. In return, coaches should be offered tenure as full-fledged faculty.

And oh yes, if faculty isn’t happy with the way things are done, those people should consider a new way of paying themselves: How about paying them — like coaches are — on their market value? And then they could dump that archaic system of tenure.

I doubt they’d be real excited about that.

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The new model for young U.S. basketball players?

Nobody expects rookie Brandon Jennings to maintain the pace he’s been keeping up so far, but his Milwaukee Bucks are in first place in their division and last night Jennings continued his stunning early season run with 32 points — 14 in the fourth quarter — and nine assists for the Bucks.

Jennings may someday stand as a pioneer, a trailblazer, if you will. Instead of heading to the University of Arizona — where he was expected to go for his college basketball career after a spectacular prep career first in California and then at Oak Hill Academy, Jennings instead signed a contract with Lottomatica Roma in Italy. He became the first American to spurn college for a European contract.

The NBA no longer allows players to enter the league immediately after high school. But instead of a scholarship to Arizona — where he failed to pass an entrance exam on several occasions — Jennings signed a $1.65 million one-year guaranteed deal with Lottomatica. He also had a $2 million endorsement deal while playing there.

He played in 27 games and didn’t do particularly well. He averaged just 5.5 points per game and shot about 35 percent from the floor. But he got a lot more experience over there — European coaches are unfettered by NCAA regulations on practice time and Jennings played with and against better and more polished players over there than he would have in the NCAA.

And instead of a one-and-done year on campus, he had an enriching European experience, did his maturing and growing up while learning to function in his chosen career — and made a lot of money doing it. No offense intended to anyone at Arizona or any other college, but I believe Jennings made a very intelligent decision.

And his play in the NBA is reflecting that. If you go to Europe, pay attention, work hard and listen to the very talented and experienced players over there, you’re going to learn A LOT.

Is there any doubt this could lead to more players following his lead? The only stumbling block after Jennings’ uneven performance over there, is that some European teams now may be reluctant to take on high school players, fearing they won’t be good enough to contribute to their teams. But some will compete at a passable level and there will be enough of them to entice teams into taking a chance on others.

And over here, it will only take a few going over — the marquee players a lot of college programs rely on to sell tickets and raise TV ratings — before it will look as if the NBA rule prohibiting the drafting of high school players will be rendered fairly useless as far as the colleges are concerned.

And someday Jennings may be appropriately hailed as the one who started it all.

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11 2009