Thursday, September 17, 2009

R.I.P. MYLES BRAND

We don’t miss a chance to rip the NCAA when they deserve ripping. But, by most accounts Dr. Myles Brand was one of the good guys. Not to mention the fact that he had the cajones to fire Bobby Knight. Maybe Brand new that the boorish coach would turn out to be a great commentator for ESPN…

Myles Brand, 67, who brought reforms to college sports as president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association but might be best remembered for firing Hall of Fame basketball coach Bob Knight at Indiana University, died Sept. 16 of pancreatic cancer in Indianapolis.

Dr. Brand, who was trained as a philosopher, was president of Indiana University for eight years before becoming NCAA president in 2003. He was the first university president to lead the governing body of college athletics.

Before the Knight incident in 2000 ignited a national debate over the role of sports on college campuses, Dr. Brand had never been considered an athletic reformer. He had been better known for his steady stewardship at Indiana, making the university a leading center of information technology and life sciences and increasing the university's endowment.

When Dr. Brand became the NCAA president, he immediately sought to give college presidents greater control over sports programs.

He led effort s to improve minority hiring among coaches and to give greater emphasis to women's sports. The NCAA executive board voted not to allow any NCAA events on the campuses of colleges with nicknames or mascots of American Indians. (And so the persecution of FSU began…)

Dr. Brand also hoped to rein in coaching salaries and expenses and to improve the scholarly achievement of athletes. He set up a system to track athletes' academic progress and to monitor their graduation rates. (Surprisingly, athletes in all but the glamour sports of football and basketball turned out to graduate at higher rates than other students.)

The most egregious problems, Dr. Brand found, were in men's basketball, with its low graduation rates, frequent recruiting abuses and exorbitant salaries for coaches. The powerful basketball coaching cadre was not pleased with the spotlight of attention.

Myles David Brand was born May 17, 1942, in Brooklyn, N.Y., and was the first member of his family to attend college. He graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., and received a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Rochester in 1967.

He played freshman basketball and lacrosse in college.

(Photo By Tom Strattman/AP Photo and the NCAA)

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