By Mark Blaudschun
PINEHURST, N.C.-- The message being sent is unambiguous. College athletics is in trouble in terms of not only perception, but reality. Something has to change.
So is the word is being spread—through NCAA President Mark Emmert, and now, as the BCS conferences conduct their annual kickoff gatherings, through the commissioners.
Whether it was SEC commissioner Mike Slive, as he did last week, or Big Ten commissioner as he will next week, or, as he did today, ACC commissioner John Swofford, the theme is similar.
“”We’re at a cross roads,’’ said Swofford, talking about a series of events in college football which produced high action entertainment with schools such as Auburn and Oregon competing for the BCS title last winter, but also high stress situations with ongoing NCAA investigations looking not only at Oregon and Auburn, but Ohio State and a host of other schools.
“Playing by the rules and graduating our players that is our definition of success,’’ said Swofford,
Make no mistake. Swofford wants ACC teams to win national titles in football just as they have done in men’s basketball two of the last three seasons. “ But we’re at a tipping point. We have to get back to basic fundamentals, to what college athletics is all about. Tweaking is not enough..’’
After his press conference this afternoon, Swofford conceded that his basic message had been discussed with his brethren among the commissioners. “We did talk about sending the same things,’’ said Swofford. “It’s important.’’
The ACC has had to deal with NCAA issues involving North Carolina and Georgia Tech most recently. “Anytime one of our schools has an NCAA problem, I’m disappointed in that school,’’ said Swofford. “I wish I had all the answers. I don’t.’’
Swofford is in favor making some fundamental changes, such as install multi-year scholarships (right now the standard procedure is a series of one year scholarships which are rolled over each year.
He would like to see the NCAA concentrate less on minor issues such as text messaging and too many phone calls and concentrate on larger issues. “Spend our resources on more serious offenses,’’ he said. “Make things simpler to understand and explain.’’
He wants the schools to regain control of their own destiny, while playing by the rules and graduating student athletes. He also wants to win.
It is not an easy task, but the message, led by Emmert, who will bring 50 college presidents together in the next few weeks—including BC’s Father William Leahy—to discuss a better way to do things.
Whether it gets done or not remains problematical. But the word is being spread.
And that is a good thing.
- Michael Vega
- Mark Blaudschun
- Nancy Marrapese-Burrell