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JUNE 7-10. 1987


NACDA Ist Vice President Carl Miller made some brief opening remarks welcoming the attendees. He then introduced the keynote speaker, Peter V. Ueberroth, Commissioner of Baseball. Mr. Ueberroth lettered in water polo at San Jose State University and was the founder of First Travel Corporation in 1963. When he sold the company in 1980, it was the second largest travel business in North America. Prior to becoming Commissioner of Baseball, Mr. Ueberroth served as the president and chief executive officer of the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee. After he was introduced, Mr. Ueberroth requested that he not be recorded; a synopsis of his address was compiled from notes and is presented here.


The theme of Mr. Ueberroth's speech was, "if enough people care about anything, we can solve any problem." What makes sports important? In Cooperstown last summer after the Hall of Fame inductions there were huge crowds of people waiting in line for hours to get autographs of the inductees. What other group of people would wait under a tent to get the autographs of people who had not been active in their profession for more than 20 years? We hold a special institution in our hands called sports.

That represents tradition -what about change? We need to make some changes between us (Major League Baseball and the colleges). What is wrong with our relationship is that we're competing with each other (for high school baseball players). Colleges offer an education, while Major League Baseball tells them, "Heck, don't go to college." There are only three or four hundred players in that category, but of those three to four hundred, how many make it to college? Forty? Why not find a cooperative solution? We must put our heads together and find a way where Major League Baseball says, "hands off" and lets them play baseball in the summer -that would be helpful to Major League Baseball as well. We shouldn't be competitive at this level. For the player who has college ability, we ought to figure out a way to do it together and Major League Baseball ought to pay for it.

There are four "macro-problems" we're findtng in society. The four "stunners" are: the nuclear issue, terrorism, financial chaos and drugs. Terrorism is mediagenic. It's allover the world and it is coming to the United States. The solution is to take a tough stand, just as the U.S. did when hijacking first came to this country. The problem was quickly resolved through instituting stringent safeguards such as airport metal detectors.

Financial chaos is the closest one at hand. It results in starvation and revolution if it reaches worldwide proportions. The solution is competition, and the Japanese provide a good example of how effective that can be. For instance, of five bids on a dam project in this country, four were within 10 percent and one was at half the level of the other bids. That bid came from a Japanese country.

That (competition) is what you teach your kids, and it is far more important than whether you win some title. The nuclear issue is the most threatening concept anyone can throw on the table for you to think about. The solution is to learn more about the nuclear issue.

Drugs --in the next 12 months there is not a soul in the room who won't be seriously and negatively impacted by drugs. Drugs are the engine of crime in this country. The solution: we are all a part of it. But a big part of the solution is the government. It's a question of supply and demand. Two countries (Bolivia and Peru) supply 97 percent of the cocaine in the world, and we've got to fight them at the source. Four groups have to help with the drug problem: parents, institutions, labor and churches. Athletic departments should have a policy they explain to their student-athletes the first time they see them. It has nothi~g to do with drug testing. Every institution represented at the Convention should have a policy on drug use by students.

Mr. Ueberroth pleaded with the government not to make testing an issue. Unbeknownst to probably most people, he basically doesn't believe in testing unless there is a demonstrated problem, such as there used to be in Major League Baseball. He thinks Major League Baseball is fairly close to the time they can drop testing. Just find the depth of the problem and testing can be a wonderful deterrent.

Mr. Ueberroth emphasized that everyone needs to know what has happened with drugs in the last six to eight months. The smartest people in the world are running the drug industry. They've made the product a lot better, the delivery system a lot better and the product is at a better price.

Athletic directors are not given enough credit in the Olympic movement, but the preparation of the 1988 Olympic team is a product of the colleges. We're the only country in the whole world that doesn't government-subsidize their athletes. Athletic directors are the ones putting the Olympic team together.

A couple of months before the Olympic Games, people were saying it wouldn't work. Why didn't it fail? Ueberroth says he doesn't deserve the credit. We have an asset no other country, other than Canada, has. They're called volunteers. The Games were put together with 77,000 people, and most of them were volunteers.

Mr. Ueberroth feels that we can be encouraged about the future of college athletics, because there are so many people who care very much about making it better. Those people are the athletic directors.