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March 31, 2005
ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI
BOB WILLIAMS: Good afternoon. I'm Bob Williams with the NCAA. NCAA president Myles Brand will start off with comments and then take questions. Following Dr. Brand's portion, Jim Haney, NABC executive director, will make comments and take questions. Dr. Brand.
MYLES BRAND: First of all, thank you all for comingg here today. Appreciate it. I'll tell you, the fan in me was just delirious with happiness over this past week. I don't recall ever seeing better college basketball than I did, competitiveness of the games, you literally hated to see anyone lose because the teams and the players on every possession played hard. Great coaching. Terrific run-up to the final games this coming weekend. So I think it was just terrific basketball. Let me talk about a couple things. We're continuing to make changes in academic performance requirements. And as you all know, we put in place the academic progress rate, the APR. We did that on purpose this year in keeping it as a trial year. In part it was to make sure that our schools and our teams in all sports are understanding what kind of data is required, and making sure that we have our lines of communications creating the data correct. Also getting some feedback, seeing if we have to in any way tweak or change, at least to a modest level, the proposals that are out there now. The Committee on Academic Performance, the AP, will be meeting later in April to talk about any prospective changes as well during the summer. There are a couple of changes that we're talking about - again, nothing serious. But in the various feedback we're getting, we're looking at those. We expect that the result will be behavior that's different on the part of our teams and our athletic programs so that student athletes have every opportunity to get a good education and to graduate with a degree at their college or university. Academic reform will make a difference. Along those same lines, I'm convening for a second time a presidential task force on the future of intercollegiate athletics. We had our preliminary meeting at the convention in January. And in mid June, in Tucson, June 9 and 10, we'll have a two-day meeting of the group. It will involve between 45 and 50 presidents. We're going to divide into four subgroups to address critical issues. One group will look at the values that guide college sports. The second group will look at the financial underpinnings of the enterprise, fiscal responsibility, if you like. We'll have a third group that will look at the relationships between university presidents, either taken singly on campus or nationally as a whole, and internal and external groups, including boosters and trustees. And the fourth group will look towards student-athlete well-being - a series of questions about length of practice times, various sport-specific issues, trying to get clear about what's the best approach to student-athlete well-being. That last one may well result in some legislative changes. The first three more likely than not will look at best practices guidelines and perhaps some legislation, but will be much more global in its nature. Finally, we are having at this meeting, as well as we have in the past and will have in the future, the College Basketball Partnership come together. We've added some new members, and I will provide that information after our meeting on Monday to the membership. The goal of the College Basketball Partnership is to position the college game in the best way possible so that the fans, student-athletes, the teams and coaches can do the best that they are capable of doing, whether it's in the tournament, during the regular season, or even in the preconference season. Our goal is to unify men's basketball in a way that takes this great game - and it really is a great game - and makes it even better. With that I'll open it to questions.
Q. What are the indications from the feedback of the APR?
MYLES BRAND: We've gotten, from you guys, the general public, and I do hear a lot from the general public through our emails and various others, general overall agreement that the APR is an important step forward. People recognize that it's a complex new way of looking at things, but also there's good understanding that the issues themselves are complex, and you can't find a simple solution to a complex problem that works. So the complexity I think is appreciated and, indeed, as we make minor changes as necessary over time, it may even get more complex. But with complexity here, in fact, comes fairness. The overall response has been favorable. A number of coaches and teams which during this trial run have not reached the level, even taking into account the small squad size adjustment, have not reached the level that they need to, have said that, "We understand where the problems are and we will fix them." That's exactly the right response. You'll always have out-lyers, but I would say overall the public and athletic community's response has been very positive.
Q. Wondering if you are monitoring the situations with steroids in baseball, Major League Baseball, and now it looks like it might become an issue in professional football, if you're monitoring that, and confident in where the NCAA stands with regard to being aggressive in that approach.
MYLES BRAND: Good question. Of course, it realerts us to the problems, performance enhancing drugs, not just steroids, but other drugs as well. As you probably know, the NCAA has been at this for 30 years and has a very clear and well-defined policy that has both random testing as well as championship testing. The fact of the matter is we have a very serious sanctioning level. Once caught, you're out for a year. Twice caught, all your eligibility is gone. We use the same very broad range of performance enhancing drugs that WADA used, World Anti-Doping Agency uses. We use some very fine testing organizations, namely the UCLA drug testing operation, which is probably if not the best one of the best in the country. We feel we're doing well. We have a good history of this. Again, we're not newcomers. In fact, we're probably the oldest on the block, as well as the most severe in our penalties. But I don't think we can become complacent. The kinds of issues that are arising in professional sports, and also in precollege at the high school level, which worries me a lot, could infect college sports. We don't have any evidence for that now. We believe we're on the right track and doing the right things. But, again, we can't become complacent about it. We have to be on the alert.
Q. Have you had a chance since you've been here to walk into the Edward Jones Dome where the Final Four will be played? If so, how do you score it compared to other venues on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the best?
MYLES BRAND: I have been in the dome before and I looked at it when we were planning to come here. I haven't been here since I've gotten to town yesterday. I've been doing a few other things. Let me say this about St. Louis. The local organizing committee has done a tremendous job. It has really worked very hard, I believe, to make people feel welcome. They're good hosts. I know the dome from previously inspecting it, it's an absolutely first-rate facility. This is exciting I think not just for the players and the teams, but it's going to be great for the fans as well. We couldn't be happier but to be in St. Louis. We want to thank all those, volunteers especially, who put the energy and time to make the event just what it's going to be, a terrific event.
Q. Last year at San Antonio I asked you about the floor for the APR. You responded with a 50% would be too low for some schools and too high for other schools. Now that the initial floor has been proposed at 50%, what kind of response are you getting along those lines?
MYLES BRAND: Yeah, first of all, I think you have to be very careful not to equate this with the 50% federally mandated rate. That's a flawed rate, and we will come out in a short time with our own graduate success rate, in particular, which will take into account transfers in and out, which is missing from the federal rate. That's just helping people get an anchor into the numbers. There will be some schools that I think because of their general student body, perhaps having a low economic or disadvantaged student population, that will make it very difficult. In those particular cases, we will look at it on an individual basis. We've built that in to make sure that we don't inadvertently disadvantage some team because it draws players from a population that really can't make that graduation rate, even properly understood under our own graduate success rate. So we have to be very careful to look at the details and not blindly go ahead and just treat schools without taking into account their particular circumstances. But don't misinterpret me. It doesn't mean it's going to be easy to get off the hook. Just the opposite: you're going to have to be able to make the case. But we will look for that to make sure that we don't inadvertently disadvantage some school or team.
Q. The center for science and public interest and other groups have called on the NCAA to stop running beer ads because of their supposed effect on drinking at colleges. Can you respond to that and talk about the NCAA's relationship with Anheuser-Busch?
MYLES BRAND: I think you have to look carefully at what the NCAA does in its championship events versus other college sporting events of which the NCAA does not have control. As you know, the NCAA does not permit the sale or advertising of alcohol in any of its championship venues, including the Final Four. With regard to the advertising on television, I believe it's one minute per hour that we permit, which I don't believe all by itself is going to change behaviors of adolescents one way or another. I think the press releases that have come out have exaggerated the number of minutes overall - remember, it's only one minute an hour from the NCAA championship basketball events and other championship events - have exaggerated the amount of advertising that we do, in fact, and we've brought that to their attention. I think we have to get the facts right and also understand that there are other venues in which college sports take place that don't have those restrictions, either in-venue restrictions or the amount of time on TV.
Q. What are your personal feelings about colleges that allow beer sales and sometimes other alcohol in their own campus events?
MYLES BRAND: You know, that's an important and hard question. When I was president of Indiana University, we were a dry campus. So not only didn't we allow it at events, we didn't allow it on campus at all. I had many students, some of whom who belonged to fraternities, including my old fraternity, who organized that we would have less of a drinking problem on campus if we'd only allow alcohol. I didn't get the logic of that. But I think college campuses do have a serious drug problem, and the drug is alcohol, and binge drinking is a serious problem that interferes with the success of students in general, and I'm not just talking about student-athletes. And I think how you best control alcohol sales on campus, in sporting events, and very importantly in the surrounding area affects whether you have a drinking problem on campus. I want to emphasize the fact that the surrounding areas, rather than on campus, present the greatest challenges to these universities.
Q. We've come through a college football season with the recruiting policies in place. What is your sense on how those worked and is there scheduled meetings for that task force to reexamine and tweak those measures to further address those issues?
MYLES BRAND: Our feedback on the recruiting changes has been very positive, both because we were able to initiate it in a timely way and also that we were sensible in our policies. We're going to continue to look at those policies and monitor and track them to see if we do have to make any adjustments. There is no planned set of adjustments to be made at this point. One of the important pieces of feedback I've heard from coaches is that it has leveled the playing field in the recruitment of student-athletes. Put yourself in a coach's frame of mind, how difficult it would be for a coach to determine how far he should go in recruiting a young football player when there's no bounds, and almost anything goes, versus here are the rules that everyone who is recruiting have to abide by. That actually creates more competitive equity in the recruiting process and has been welcomed by our coaches. So I think we have been on the right track with that. We will always monitor to make sure that as times change and new ideas come up we'll take them into account. But right now we feel comfortable where we are.
Q. Do you anticipate anything coming out of Monday's meeting with the College Basketball Partnership that would impact next season?
MYLES BRAND: Impact? I need a little more clarification of the question. Impact in what way are you thinking about?
Q. Would any rule changes that might come about or policy changes that might impact like, for instance, the exempt situation with the two and four, I know it's gone to the management council for further review, but things of that nature?
MYLES BRAND: Right. The College Basketball Partnership will not take up any legislative issues, and that includes rule changes. That will go through the normal NCAA process. That's not the purpose of the College Basketball Partnership. Really it is to shape the -- position the game, if you like, shape the values of it, its goals. But rule changes, wherever they may come from, and they can come from a multitude of places, including some who are at that meeting, through their own roles in the management council or so on, those rule changes will come through the normal NCAA. I don't expect anything to change as a result of the College Basketball Partnership in regard to what you suggested.
Q. What, if anything, do you anticipate coming out of Monday's meeting that would impact the game in the future?
MYLES BRAND: We'll see (laughter). You know, I think positioning the game, what the game looks like in the future, how the fans appreciate it and how it's presented to the media. Let me just give you one example. Should there be a common starting date to the season, which we don't have right now, that doesn't strike me as so much of a rule change. But it is the people who participate in college basketball getting together and better understanding what the early part of the season looks like. So that would be an example of positioning basketball that doesn't involve an NCAA legislative rule change, normally speaking.
Q. You talked about how exciting the Elite 8 games were, the regional final games. Do you anticipate the same excitement for this weekend? Got some great teams and some great student-athletes and hopefully some good basketball on tap for fans across the nation.
MYLES BRAND: I have great anticipation. I think these teams play very hard. I was impressed by the teams in the Elite 8, but also the four that survived those tough games leading here. I was impressed, every possession they were playing hard. Very well-coached. The games were competitive because of great parity amongst the teams and players. That hasn't changed since last week. So my expectation is that we're going to have great games and it's going to be very hard to predict, whatever the prognosticators say, it's hard to predict who is going to win. That's what makes it so exciting, that's what makes college basketball so exciting, that they're well-matched, enthusiastic, they're going to play their hearts out, and the fans, myself included, are going to enjoy every minute of it.
Q. If you can keep your fan's hat on here, you've just done what a lot of people have done for the last several days, and that's kind of celebrate what college basketball has gone through. Does the fan in you wish for the same thing in college football? Do you think college football gets the same hit from its post-season that college basketball does?
MYLES BRAND: Actually, I'm a fan of all college sports: basketball, football, women's volleyball, Division III track, love it all. And the answer directly to your question is yes. I'm glued to my TV set if I'm not in the stands during the Bowl season. I think those few days around New Year's are just terrific for college football. It doesn't have a playoff, it has a Bowl system. And the Bowl system, again, with my fan hat on, is just as exciting to me as a playoff. Football and basketball are different sports. You can play them more often, and they have different post-season tournaments, or post-season activities. I think the Bowls are great. Unlike others, I don't want to assimilate one sport to another. That's not to preclude some time in the future that college football will be different, and that the post-season will look different, but I'm not at all dissatisfied with the way it is right now. Again, I find the Bowls exciting. You know, I think of the Miami-Ohio State game not too many years ago. Boy, that was exciting football.
Q. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has been on TV during the post-season. Other coaches have done that in seasons past. I'm curious if people are talking to you about whether that constitutes an unfair recruiting advantage, something on your radar, something you've been discussing with other people?
MYLES BRAND: As a matter of fact, I have heard from the commissioners, a number of commissioners, as well as athletic directors, presumably on behalf of the teams in their conferences, that this might create an unfair recruiting advantage. The fact of the matter is, there's no rule that prevents that. Coaches for a long time have been on television, occasionally on national television, certainly on local television. Even if the membership decided to come together to pass new rules that would prohibit that, I think two factors have to be taken into consideration: The first is, those rules may be illegal under anti-trust, namely we cannot directly control coaches' outside earnings or earnings at all. The NCAA learned that sometime trying to control the assistant basketball coaches' salary. I believe that was a $54 million settlement. That's one trial learning. I think you have some serious anti-trust issues even if you were to try and pass rules to control it. Second of all, it would affect other coaches who use the media and advertising as a source of revenue to promote products. As long as coaches, Coach Krzyzewski and other coaches, are doing it in a way that speaks well about the values of intercollegiate athletics, I'm not uncomfortable with that approach. Any time a coach for whatever reason, any coach, any venue, speaks well of college sports and talks about the role it plays in young men's and young women's lives, how it's a positive influence in our culture, I'm pleased to see that on TV.
Q. Do you approve of colleges allowing alcohol sales at athletic events on campus? Should the NCAA even be involved in the matter?
MYLES BRAND: The NCAA has no role to play in conference determination of what is sold in the stadiums. And sometimes the conferences themselves don't because the venue in which they play may not even be owned by the school and has certain contractual rules about the sale of alcohol beverages. That's a fact of the matter, so the NCAA has no role to play. My own personal opinion is that I think alcohol has to be controlled on campus, including in venues, sporting venues. When I was a university president, there was not the sale of alcoholic beverages at Indiana University and I wouldn't have had it any other way.
Q. An APR follow-up. With the transfer rule, are you comfortable that, for other than basketball, football and hockey, ice hockey, kids can transfer, and that can facilitate and skew some of the numbers. I know you could have a one for two, but that will lower -- put you closer to the threshold. Does that need to be looked at?
MYLES BRAND: I think baseball, in particular, has a problem. Maybe that was what was in your mind. Baseball has a particular problem because it doesn't have the transfer rule, namely you have to sit out a year if you transfer. That can affect APR, and frankly could affect graduation and academic success because when students transfer, it's less likely that they're going to succeed academically. I think it needs to be looked at. I know the baseball community has been discussing this for several years. In fact, they are split on whether there should be such a rule, not just for APR and academic reasons, but to provide some stability to the teams. And I would encourage them to continue to talk about it and think about it. There are costs and benefits to the current procedure, I believe.
BOB WILLIAMS: Thank you. Now Jim Haney, NABC executive director will make comments and take questions. Joining Dr. Brand and Mr. Haney are Pat Kennedy, 2004/2005 outgoing NABC president and Towson head basketball coach; Jim Burson 2005/2006 NABC president and Muskegon College head basketball coach; Kelvin Sampson, NABC past president, board member and University of Oklahoma head basketball coach; and Oliver Purnell, NABC board member and Clemson head basketball coach. Mr. Haney.
JIM HANEY: Thank you. Good afternoon. I just have some opening comments on behalf of the board and then we look forward to visiting with you on your questions. First of all, this is just a personal observation, and it doesn't require much to make this observation in terms of how incredible the tournament has been this year. As I watched the games last weekend, it made me reflect back not just on the games that were being played, but really the games throughout the tournament, even going back into the conference tournaments. I think we'd like to say that, you know, players play, and players win games, but coaches prepare players to play and to win games. I was just struck by how well these teams were prepared to compete at a very high level of competition, with great pressure upon them, how sportsmanlike they were, and what really struck me was the camaraderie of the teams who lost in very heart-breaking ways in many cases, just how well they handled those tough situations and the disappointment. We're excited about the season. looking forward obviously to the games coming up this weekend. A couple points. One is just sort of an update on our legislative proposals, recruiting and access. We went to the NCAA management council, as anyone who did who had legislation that they proposed back in the fall, with a list of proposals. We got good feedback from the management council as well as others regarding that legislation. Some of it favorable, some not favorable. But it really allowed us, because of that input, to revise our package, make some adjustments in terms of some of the things that we were proposing. We made those adjustments. We've been working with our coaches as well as administrators in terms of trying to create energy and support for those proposals. We think that that effort is paying dividends and look forward to the management council's meetings coming up in April. We also obviously have our own thoughts about the Academic Progress Rate. I would say we're all very, very pleased that the NCAA membership has come up with another way of measuring the academic progress of student-athletes. We recognize that within that rate there are responsibilities on the part of the student-athlete to handle their responsibilities as a student appropriately, as well as the coach in terms of his responsibilities in the area of retention. In sort of a similar fashion, I know our coaches still have concerns about the retention piece, but I think it's important to underscore the fact that our general response to the Academic Progress Rate is a very favorable one. We feel good about it. We recognize that there are just situations that occur in the conduct of a program that just reveal that the coach can only influence the student-athlete so far. We're pleased in our conversations with the NCAA staff that there is an openness to understand those situations and to respond to them. Finally, just a couple of outreach updates relative to some of the things that we're doing. We are involved in the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in Kansas City. It's something that we have been working on for several years. We think we're making good progress in that regard. We still have to finalize agreements with the City of Kansas City, with a company called Anshutz Entertainment Group, who will be managing that facility. But it is our hope that come the spring or summer of 2007 that there will be, in fact, a National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame as part of the Sprint Center in Kansas City. In addition to that, we have a program called Ticket To Reading Rewards. One administrator in the Boston school system called it the best incentive-based reading program they've ever seen. We were in six cities this past year. In addition to Boston, we were in Chicago, Detroit, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. Our hope was to expand that program. It's specifically focused to middle school-aged students. We really think we're having an impact. Everything we get from parents, teachers, superintendents, the students themselves is just so very favorable. We're so pleased that that program is having an impact. Then finally Coaches Versus Cancer, a program we started over 10 years ago continues to do well as it tries to bring attention to the issues of healthy lifestyles and raise money for research for cancer. That's an overview of our opening comments. We welcome the opportunity to respond to questions.
Q. Jim, of the proposals that you have on the table with the management council, which issue is most pressing to the NABC? Realistically, what are your chances of getting change implemented on that issue?
JIM HANEY: Well, I think we probably see that all of them have value from our perspective because they were all part of a package that we thought enhanced the relationship between the coach, whether it be a prospective student-athlete or a student-athlete. So I don't think we've gone through the process and said, "Well, we like this, we don't like that." Right now we have the core of our package. There are several things that are no longer part, but the core of our package remains intact. Our coaches felt very strongly that a prospective student-athlete who signed a national letter of intent, who comes onto campus in the summer, waiting matriculation in the fall, should be treated in the same fashion as a student-athlete that particular summer. There is legislation proposed to do just that. We felt strongly about the change, particularly in the junior recruiting. Right now the rules permit our coaches to have juniors in the spring of their junior year come onto campus for official visits. It also allows our coaches to go and meet with juniors in the spring of the year in their home community. Our proposal would eliminate that. It allows for one phone call per month to juniors, all that with the intent of creating a better vehicle by which communication can occur between a prospect and the college coach, that they can get to know each other both directions and make more sound and wise decisions in terms of that particular student-athlete attending a particular school. I'd say really from our perspective all of the pieces add up very nicely to an enhanced relationship, a strengthened relationship. They're an outgrowth of the concerns about retention and student-athletes leaving. Obviously, even within the Academic Progress Rate, if a student-athlete leaves, that potentially creates a problem in terms of the rate and potential penalty. For us, the whole issue of retention and ability to strengthen our relationships between the player and the coach is very important.
Q. Obviously the three-point shot was a tremendous part of the excitement of last week's games. I hear more and more coaches ready to see it back at the international distance. How strong is that consensus among the coaches? How quickly would you like to see legislative change there, if that consensus is as strong as it seems to be?
PAT KENNEDY: You know, with rules all of a sudden, you know, we see changes. Even when the three-point shot came in, it seemed to come in awfully quick at one point in time. I'm not so sure that consensus is as strong as whatever information you've received from different coaches. We have a tendency sometimes to tweak too much. But I think part of the excitement was the fact that the three-point shot is there, it wasn't there years ago. From a lot of coaches I've talked to, there's not been this strong sense like we've had some rules that we really need to address this and change it. I've not felt that sense. Obviously, from the excitement of last week, which was one of the greatest weekends of all time, I've not really heard that even talked about on a national level, even on ESPN or any other networks.
Q. About the academic progress rates. Coach Sampson, your team did fine. Well above the 927 cutoff. Coach Purnell and Kennedy, you were all below that, but still not within the conference boundary from the NCAA. What was your reaction to getting those scores? What does it mean? Is it going to change anything about what you're doing now or how you recruit in the future?
KELVIN SAMPSON: Whew. That was my reaction (laughter). I think it has -- I think it's a two-pronged thought process. I think you have to be really conscious of the kids you have, but also the kids you're bringing in. There's just not a lot of room for error. I think every coach is pro graduation, pro academic. I mean, we coach at academic institutions. But with the new APR, not only are you having to be a little bit more conscious of, Can this kid graduate, but you have to have support systems in place on your campuses to make sure you see these kids through once they get there.
OLIVER PURNELL: Yeah, I was a bit surprised I guess in terms of looking at it because we knew this APR was coming down the pike, but until it actually hit, and then to take a look at your program and where your kids are moving forward. Of course, I took over the program, you know, a year and a half ago. But you still have to evaluate, if you're taking over a new job, whatever job you're in, you've got to evaluate where you are, you've got to evaluate what you need to do with the kids that are there now, what kind of academic job they need to do to get you above the line. By our calculations, if we do okay over the next -- this semester, next semester, we will be above, but we cannot have a really bad semester across the board. So collectively our guys have got to do, you know, a decent job, and we'll be above that, you know, cut line, all the other things that are involved in that. But just like Kelvin said, it does make you really take a look at who you're recruiting and try to project down the line where you're going to be, can this person not only graduate, but can his, you know, GPA and that kind of thing, along with the other guys you have in your program collectively, kind of keep you out of that area. It does make you take a long look at who you're recruiting, but obviously you need to take a long look at who you have right now and what they need to do in order to keep you out of harm's way. But I do think the APR certainly is tied to, you know, retention as well as the new revised package of legislation. If you've got more access to your kids, while they're there, you have a better chance of developing a relationship with those guys, you've got a better chance, so they don't leave for some reason that's maybe an immature reason. But you also have an opportunity to talk to them about the importance of academics. The closer you are to kids, the more they're going to listen to you, whether it's basketball, academics or life. And so I think the more access that we have to our kids, the more chance we have to interact with them, whether it's watching them in pickup games, whether it's mentoring them or whatever, you're going to have a better chance to impact them academically, socially, basketball-wise, et cetera.
PAT KENNEDY: I think also in our case, for example, when I got to Towson, we were affected by the two youngsters who used up their eligibility before we got there. Now since we have gotten there, there's been three or four youngsters who don't believe they're going to get much playing time, having been recruited by another staff, in which they were being brought in to play a certain role, and now they may have a different role with two years of eligibility. They're in good academic standing, but they may now want to transfer to another institution. So when a coach is stuck between taking the new job, the difficulty of that is you didn't recruit the youngsters who are there, you can't control per se obviously what their wills are going to be and what changes they want to make in their life for their own betterment, and you're being dishonest to them if you try to talk them out of it. So we've had an adjusted rate at Towson where now I think we're going to be okay, but we're just one small example of people left under certain circumstances, we inherited some people under certain circumstances. I think what Oliver says in terms of tying the access package and retention package into trying to make sure we all recruit youngsters and we don't make mistakes so they'll stay for four years, think about all that goes into that component. There's an academic component, there's a basketball component and there's a social component. Transferring is not as bad as everyone makes it out to be. A lot of students, not student-athletes, a lot of general students, will transfer for different reasons. So I think a big thing for coaches is the transfer aspect of this. I agree with Kelvin. Obviously, we're all going to continue, as we've done, to make sure that we try to bat a hundred percent, but we're not. Ultimately, I think the NCAA quite frankly, there's going to be some cases and some either exceptions or waivers that are going to have to be weighed one way or the other. But I think the coaches are very much in support of the direction we're going.
MYLES BRAND: Let me add a clarifying note. I really appreciate the relationship you pointed out between the proposals on the table and the academic success of the APR. That's dead on target, exactly right. I'd also point out that in those schools that are below the minimum APR, if a student who is academically eligible transfers, you're not penalized for that student. It affects your APR, but you're not penalized for that student. You're only penalized for students who leave who are academically ineligible, or in common parlance, flunk out. Transferring is okay as long as the kid has a respectable, according to your school, academic performance while they're there.
Q. At high school All-Star games this time of year, NBA people can have full access to guys who sign with colleges, and colleges have more limited access to those players. Can you talk about whether or not that's something that is going to be addressed in some of your proposed legislation.
JIM HANEY: The answer to that is it's not. We recognize it, I think our coaches feel very strongly that it's an uncomfortable -- it's proven to be a bad situation. A number of young people who will go to those All-Star games recognizing that they're good players, they have signed national letters of intent did to go play in college, get their degree, you know, find out that somebody on this All-Star team has decided they're going to go put their name in the draft. Well, if he is, why am I not? Pretty soon, it's not as much whether I should or not, it's a matter of sort of wearing the banner, that I'm one of those guys who has put his name into the draft. We recognize it's a concern, and we talked about it with the special committee going back to last July, but there didn't appear to be anything we could do to impact, through the NCAA process, what the NBA decided it was going to do.
Q. What is the thought process behind penalizing schools for athletes that turn pro early? Is the point you prefer those athletes don't come to college at all or do you expect them to not graduate? You expect them to turn down pro contracts and graduate? Why is there a penalizing component to that?
MYLES BRAND: That's an excellent question. As I mentioned at the beginning when I spoke earlier, we're still trying to refine the APR. We're going to address specifically that issue in the near future, certainly for basketball, but getting back to an earlier answer, baseball especially, where we have a lot of young men signing up in their junior year to turn pro, to go up to the minor leagues. I think we have to figure out what's in the coach's control and what's not. If a young man is academically eligible while in uniform, but in the last few weeks of a semester gets ready for an NBA try-out, goes in the first round, should we penalize the coach and the team in terms of our calculations? My sense of the matter is no. But that will cause us to change at least in a minor way the way we calculate right now. Going back to the key point: fairness is not -- in simplicity, it's taking into account the complexities and difficulties of the situation.
Q. What do the coaches feel about that?
KELVIN SAMPSON: I think therein lies the part of this proposal that we've got to figure out. You know, we've talked about potential problems. Sometimes you sit down, and the spirit and intent of the rule is exactly as it should be, but where problems occur is the "what if's", like the word "transfer." Kids transfer today. I was looking in the transactions today, in the last two days I think there's been between 10 and 14 kids that are transferring. Well, here at our meetings, my first thought process was the APR. "Are these kids eligible? Are they leaving academically eligible?" That's going to affect the APR now, their ability to retain scholarships. Whether it's kids leaving early for the NBA draft, a kid leaving for a totally different reason other than athletics, they just -- he decides he doesn't want to play any more or he decides, "I went away from home, now I have -- my mother is sick, I need to transfer to get back closer to her," there's a lot of potential problems in this. I agree with what Dr. Brand said, or at least I better agree with what Dr. Brand said, that there's a component of this that we've just got to work through. I do think any time you put new legislation on the table, there has to be common sense clauses.
OLIVER PURNELL: I would say one word to that, and it's never as simple as one word, but I think since we formed this really close partnership with the NCAA, the NABC and the NCAA, I think everybody's looked more aggressively at waivers to right some situations that maybe slipped through the cracks. Here might be a situation where we look more aggressively at waivers. You know, someone is leaving, they're in good standing, so on and so forth, might be a situation, you might be able to alleviate that as an issue or a problem with an aggressive look at waivers in a lot of these situations. That's just a personal opinion.
Q. When you see these transfers taking place now, with the advent of the APR, is it a deterrent for a coach to look at these transfers knowing what kind of impact it could or could not have on that?
OLIVER PURNELL: Well, just very quickly I think you've got to look at transfers just like you look at incoming students. You've got to look at the impact that they're going to have on your program academically, and you've got to look at that closer now than you did six months ago.
KELVIN SAMPSON: I think the APR has changed the way you look at incoming students, period, whether they're incoming as freshman, junior college or four-year transfers. The new legislation was set up to not necessarily put an emphasis on graduation, but to enhance it. You know, we've always emphasized graduation, but if we can get -- the goal is to get to a hundred percent. Now, whether you can do that or not, you don't know. But there's always going to be kids that want to transfer. That hasn't changed and won't change. But what's changed is the way you look at these kids. Not are they academically eligible, but when they transfer to your institution, are they good enough students to make it? In the past, maybe that wasn't as big a concern. But now, whereas some schools like kids to stay eligible, you better be thinking about graduation.
Q. Did your organization support the notion of the minimum age requirement for the NBA?
JIM HANEY: Unless you know something I don't know (smiling). Clarify your question.
Q. The suggestion that's out there, the -- no, I don't know anything you don't know.
JIM HANEY: Okay (smiling). When we hear "20 years of age," we see kids who in some cases may have been held back in eighth grade or leave high school and go to a prep school. You know, when you hear "20," to us, you know, we think that their exit or potential exit from college and go on to the NBA may be after a year in college. We think in terms of impact on high school kids, going back into the ninth grade, you know, that that carrot is somehow out there. How does that impact the mindset of a high school student to prepare to be a college student? In the conversations we've had with our coaches, it's been more about a three-year rule, where three years after you've graduated, similar really to baseball in that regard, where you really do -- with three years, you really do have a chance, by attending summer school and doing some things, to be proactive in terms of getting yourself in a position to graduate before that opportunity would arise to go on and play in the NBA, if you were so blessed. When we see "20 years," I think we tend to see that within the context of just facilitating kids from leaving early out of college and not really being able to create the foundation to graduate.
Q. Coach Sampson, I don't know if you're aware of this, but the NCAA is asking all schools that have Native American mascots to prepare a report by May 1st, justifying why they should have those mascots, including your alma mater. Given your background, I was curious what you thought about that?
KELVIN SAMPSON: I think in a lot of ways it's been modernized. It's become a problem recently more so than formerly. When I was growing up, my favorite baseball team was the Atlanta Braves. This dude named Chief Nakahoma, I didn't see anything wrong with him. But now those things have become a problem. People, they're sensitive to those issues. I've always sided on the side of a person, people. If people are sensitive to something and it causes a problem, then I think it's something that should be looked at.
BOB WILLIAMS: Thank you very much.
End of FastScripts...