OPENING REMARKS AND KEYNOTE ADDRESS
(Monday, June 11, 1990- 8:00 a.m.)
Silver Anniversaries are always special and it's my privilege to serve as your president during this historic year. Due to the current winds of change that have been blowing with respect to intercollegiate athletics, our Executive Committee has prepared a dynamic and contemporary program which is sure to be a bell-ringer for national governing policies. In addition to the regular Convention program and the now- ingrained Breakfast Roundtables, NACDA is conducting a first-ever, Fund Raising Workshop for Athletic Administrators. Also, the NAIA, the two-year athletic administrators and the Division I-A Directors Association are holding annual meetings in conjunction with our own NACDA gathering. All-in-all, the Convention seems to be growing in proportion to the entire association.
A special thanks goes to our first-vice president, Frank Windegger, for coordinating the agenda. As you will experience over the next several days, Frank did a marvelous job. Finally, another special thanks is extended to all of our fine exhibitors for their support. Please stop by each of their booths and see the latest products and services in college athletics. Have a great time in Marco. Thank you.
At this time, I'd like to introduce Mr. Jack Doyle, athletic director at South Dakota who will introduce our Keynote Speaker.
It's my pleasure to have the opportunity to introduce Mr. Neuharth this morning. Al is a graduate of
the University of South Dakota and, presently, is the chairman of the Gannett Foundation. He's the founder of the USA TODAY Newspaper, which has the largest circulation in the United States. It was hard for me to convince him this morning that I didn't get here at 7:00 a.m. to pass out the newspapers. He's the author of the national best-selling autobiography, Confessions Of An S.O.B. He's appeared on many national television talk shows, including Phil Donahue, Larry King, David Letterman, Pat Sajak and Bob Costas. He was named the most influential person in print media for the decade of the 1980s by the Washington Journalism Review. He is a frequent speaker across the United States and abroad talking about his philosophy and how to get ahead in life, how to deal with bosses, how to get people to do what you want them to do and how to combat the status quo and how to turn criticism to your advantage. The University of South Dakota was recently the recipient of a one-million dollar gift from Al Neuharth. Would you please give Mr. Neuharth a warm welcome this morning.
Jack, thanks very much. I thought that introduction was a little short. A million dollars used to buy more than that; but with inflation.
Before we talk a little business, I think perhaps I owe you an explanation about one of the credentials that Jack mentioned in that introduction. I can understand why you might wonder why a self-confessed S.O.B. has a spot on a program with a prestigious group like this. I confess that I wondered a little too when your executive director, Mike Cleary, and Jack Doyle invited me to be here. But, I must admit, as I mixed with some of you before the program began, and as I look around the room, I don't feel quite as out of place among you as I have with some other audiences. Because of that book Confessions Of An S.O.B., everywhere I've gone in recent Dlonths, people ask me, "why would anyone admit to being anything less than perfect?" I did that for two reasons; first of all, I think that confessions or admissions or the truth are good for the soul, whether you do it as an individual or an institution or an association. I'm sure that some of you remember that the Bible says, "the truth will make you free." That's in John 8:32. In case you wonder why I can quote chapter and verse on that, I want to share with you how that came about.
A short time ago, I spoke to a group at St. Bonaventure University in upstate New York. They were honoring one of their alumni, the late, great newspaper columnist, Bob Constantine, who some of you remember. During the luncheon I was seated next to St. Bonaventure's President, Father Doyle. I might add, no relation at all to Jack Doyle. And I recalled for Father Doyle that Considine told me, back when we shared a press plane when President Eisenhower u~de an Operation Amigo trip to Latin America back in the late 50s. Constantine who was a pretty salty fellow, as some of you recall, told me he didn't really give a damn how people reacted to his column. He said because, "I tell the damn truth whether they want to hear it or not." So, I said to Father Doyle, "I'd like to mention that business about truth in my remarks." And, I said, "Father, you've got the Bible memorized. What chapter is that where it says that truth will make you free?"
Father Doyle looked at me and scratched his head, paused and smiled and said, "I don't remember, you'll
have to guess." But he said, "if you tell them with conviction, they'll believe you." So I did and I got it wrong and that's why I looked it up and that's why I'm the only S.O.B. you know who can quote from Scripture accurately.
Second reason is I really do think that there's a little bit of S.O.B. in all of us, or most of us. It takes all kinds of S.O.B.s to make the world work. Some are borderline. A few are bad. But, I think in this day and age, most of the time when you call someone an S.O.B., especially if there's a smile on your face, you consider them fairly loveable and it's sometime a compliment. You can judge which category of S.O.B. I fall in, but let me help you a little bit. In a half century in the media business, in climbing the career ladder, I confess that I have often schemed and connived, but I never did anything illegal, immoralor unethical. I would try to out-fox the enemy or competition, just as you do to succeed or win on the
playing field. And I would try to out-charm my friends; I'll admit that I even told a little white lie now
and then. Now before you decide that that necessarily makes me a bad person, or before you start examining your own conscience about any of those innocent lies that you've told, let me tell you a true story about a white lie. Shortly after Jimmy Carter was elected President, the Washington Post requested an interview witb his Mother, Miss Lillian. Some of you may remember her. You may recall that during that presidential campaign, Jimmy Carter went coast to coast proclaiming that he would never lie to the American people. They believed him. They elected him and right after the election, the Washington Post sent a snotty reporter. Some of you who deal with reporters may think that's the redundant. They sent a reporter down to Plains, Georgia to interview Mrs. Carter. The purpose was primarily to prove that President Carter had lied when he said that he never told a lie. So Miss Lillian met the female reporter at the door of her modest home in Plains, showed her to the living room and the reporter got right to the point and said, "Mrs. Carter, your son, the President Elect of the United States, claims he's never told a lie. Now, surely, you must remember some lies when he was growing up. Tell me about them." Mrs. Carter said, "well, not a real lie, but maybe I little white lie now and then." The reporter thinking she had nailed her moved right in and said, "what's ti difference? Give me an example." Miss Lillian smiled that disarming southern smile of hers and replied ver~ sweetly, "well like a minute ago when I met you at the door and told you how nice you looked and how glad I was to see you."
I hope you'll agree that if it's OK for Presidents and mothers of Presidents to tell occasional white lies and then admit them, you and I should have no problem with our admissions or confessions or the
truth, even if it sometimes make us look less than perfect. I know that some of you have been here for a couple of days in workshops and committee meetings or out on the golf course or tennis courts. But, I'm especially pleased to be with you for this opening general session of your Silver Anniversary program and to welcome you to your fifth meeting in Florida since 1982. I want to tell you that I'm not a member of the Chamber of Commerce, but I am an adopted Floridian. I live across the state on the east coast within eyesiB of the launch pads of our Kennedy Space Center. So, as a Floridian, I'm delighted you're here to help keep Florida green. I hope you'll come back even more often. I know that there are some attractions in places like San Diego, where you'll go next year, or Anaheim, or Las Vegas. But I hope Jack, you and others as yot book your conventions, keep in mind that when you come to a convention in Florida you have a fringe benefit, permitting you to look around and plan a future retirement home. I don't know of any category of working folks who have more reason to take out an insurance policy for an early retirement home than those of you wt are in the college or university athletic fields. So, do that while you're down here.
Seriously, as you gather for this Silver Anniversary program, I hope you'll agree with me that it's appropriate for you to look ahead, for us to look ahead together as well as back over the last quarter century, to look ahead in this decade in the 90s and even beyond to the 21st century, which is just around the corner. We really are living in an exciting and sometimes troublesome world. A world of change. Jack properly pointed out in his opening remarks that the winds of change are blowing in intercollegiate athletic They certainly are. Winds of change are blowing everywhere. Think about the past year. We've seen more political changes world-wide than at any time in our history. I believe in this decade of the 90s we'll se, more economic and social changes around the globe than in any time in our history.
And those social changes are going to be influenced primarily by young men and women around the world. That's why they will have great impact on your world or collegiate athletics. Over an eight-month period, a small group or my journalist associates from USA-TODAY and I visited 32 countries on six continents. We wen from Moscow to Montreal, Nirobe to New Daly, Sidney to Stockholm, Brazil to Bejing, beyond and in between. We talked to leaders and readers, capitalists and communists, diplomats and dissidents, law-makers and law-breakers, president and prime ministers, ambassadors and athletes. Everywhere we went, people
in all walks or lire talked about change; change and freedom. Primarily the freedom to do more or what they want, when they want and how they want. What I think that nleans is that in the 19908 there's no longer any status quo anywhere in the world in any field. I think the reason why really was told to us by author and futurist, Alvin Torfler. He wrote that quote, "an information bomb has exploded in our midst showering us with a shrapnel or images and drastically changing the way each or us perceives and acts upon our own world.
In short, Toffler says the world has changed and, therefore, people's hopes and expectations have changed. You've seen those changes from your own living room. They've taken place before your eyes are on television all the way from Bejing and Berlin and in between and beyond, and importantly, in the Soviet Union itself.
It's this kind of change, of course, that Lennon had in mind and feared when he ruled the Soviet Union
75 years ago. It's worth recalling that he expressed his feelings about change or freedom in this way. Lennon wrote back in 1925 and I quote, "Why should freedom of speech and freedom of the press be allowed? Why should a government which is doing what it believes is right allow itself to be criticized?" It would not allow opposition by lethal weapons. And ideas are much more fatal than guns. Recently, on one of my many return visits to Moscow as I jogged through Red Square and passed the Kremlin and Lennon's tomb as they were doing that ceremonial colorful changing of the guard at 7:00 a.m., I wondered to myself, is Lennon laughing now or is he crying? Because for more than 60 years, his successor has followed Lennon's line. Guns kept ideas or changes in the closet under Stalin and others and until Gorbachev took over in 1985. Since Gorbby
opened that closet, frustrations that have been long pent up have poured out. You've seen it through demonstrations from Czechoslovakia to Poland to Romania; in declarations of independence in Lithuania, Latvia and Destonia, and in marches in Moscow itself. Such as the most recent May Day demonstration. During a rap session I had over there with students at Moscow State University last month, the dean of their journalism school summed it up this way. He said, and I quote, "President Gorbachev has said that we must have
Parastrika and Glassnov reforms in openness." He said, "those are radical changes and so our students are determined to be radical."
I think what we're seeing is that in this age of instant and global communications, via satellite, those radical changes over there are finding their way back to the USA. It's ironic, because in the 1960s we exported radicalism from our campuses. Today we are importing. I think the recent boycotts and, if you will, girl-cotts, bi-athletes from Florida A&M University to Drake to Zano State and elsewhere are examples of that. We could blame those situations on a lot of things. But I think that Charlie Farrell, who is the special projects coordinator at Northeastern University's Center for the Study for the Sports In Society, got it right when he said, "I'm not sure that we're seeing a different athlete as much as we're seeing a different era. I think the student-athlete feels like he is being re-empowered. They realize they are not the university's property." And Farrell added, "I equate this to the movements more in eastern Europe where students are saying, "I will not be dominated anymore." Well, if that's right, what can or should you do about it? You're a far better judge of that than I.
So, I'm not going to lecture you about some of the more controversial student-athlete administration questions, such as, should you concern yourselves more with the off-field environment of your athletes? Should you help them prepare for the real world by ending what, for some of them, is still isolation on their campus? Doing away with such special treatment as the remaining athletic dorms. Well, the answer of course, is you should. At the same time, should you recognize that athletes themselves are the propeller that is driving college athletics? Should you reward them for it? In short, should you pay jocks to play? My view of the answer is, of course you should. I presume to solve those two simple problems for you, something which I am not absolutely qualified to do and I admit it.
Let me spend a few minutes about something important to both you and me that I spent more than a half a century working at. That's the relationship between the media and people in sports; athletes, coaches and athletic directors. All of you have a direct relationship with the media whether you like it or not, and I'm aware that often you have good reason not to like it. Many of you and your coaches wonder about the merits of your players being exposed to the press. Some coaches are very unenthusiastic about direct contact between the press and their players. I thought that was really put into perspective by coach Gary Williams when he was still at Boston College. He said that he wanted his kids exposed to the press. And bless his soul, he said, "they're going to meet a lot of wierdos in the real world, so why not let them talk to reporters." It's really nice to be loved.
I confess that when I see how the media muddles some news events and some sports stories, I'm often reminded of what President Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1807. President Jefferson wrote a letter to a friend, "perhaps an editor might begin a reformation by dividing his newspaper into four sections with these labels: the first should be labeled, truth; the second, probabilities; the third possibilities and the fourth section, lies." Jefferson added, "the first section on truth would be very short and the last section on lies would be very long." Jefferson may have exaggerated a little to make a point. But he did forecast what is a growing mistrust of the media. Because you in your business have to deal with the media, let me share with you what I think is the overriding reason why the media fails to measure up to what both you and I would like it to be.
I believe that's the misuse or the abuse of anonymous, or so called confidential sources. Three things generally happen when print or broadcast editors permit their reporters to use unnamed sources. First of all, that source, whether it's a politician or college official, often tells more than he or she knows. The reporter often writes more than he or she hears. When you mix those two together, the public doesn't believe it. Readers and viewers think that when reporters don't name sources, they made it up, and often, they're
right. In my view, the only way to eliminate public doubt is to ban all anonymous sources. Some publical already do that and others are moving in that direction. But you can help bring that about. You are
news makers. If you yourselves refuse to give the media any information on an anonymous basis, you will h restore credibility to the media and you will benefit as readers and viewers just as we will benefit. I'm sure that you're always aware of how much news sources like yourselves have an influence on the philosophy the policy and style of newspapers and broadcast stations. You have tremendous influence on them and they have tremendous impact on those who reach or read or watch or listen. Our former editor-in-chief at USA- TODAY, John Quinn, put that question of newspaper styles into a very succinct form when he addressed the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. recently. He told them how he thought some of the biggest newspap in this country would handle the ultimate story. When we in the newsrooms get together and talk about the ultimate story that, of course, would be the end of the world. We have nothing else to do, we talk about we would handle that. Editor Quinn said that each of the major newspapers would play that story according its own style. He offered examples. In the New York Times, the headline would read: World Ends - Third-World Countries Hardest Hit. In the Wall Street Journal, the headline would read: World Ends -Dow Jones Industrial Average Hits Zero. In the Washington Post, the headline would read: World Ends -White House Ignored Early Warnings Unnamed Sources Say. In USA-TODAY, the headline would read: We're Dead -St by State Demise on Page BA, and Final Sports Results, Page 6c.
Well, you as readers or viewers or listeners or as news makers have a great deal of influence on ti philosophy, policy and style of your newspapers or broadcast stations. We in the media must recognize ti you don't always love us and often you have good reason for that. I hope as news makers will realize th, are not universally loved either. Very few in the public are neutral about either of us, both the membe the media and leaders in the sports world. I think both your job and ours is to pedal our information o sell our programs in ways that will make us admired respected and believed, if not always loved. How do that? I think we do it by simply telling the truth. By admitting that we're not perfect, but at the sa time, by not hesitating to blow our horn a bit about those things that we do well. In that connection, think it's OK to keep in mind that success doesn't come quickly to those who just humbly stand in line.
have to be ready to rock the boat. You have to be ready to wear that bullseye on your chest and shake o thos darts and arrows that hit you. You have to figure out how to scuddle the S.O.B.s what are trying ti you in. I think you have to get what you want by using the right mix of a lot of niceness and a little
nastiness, when needed.
I hope that all of us will remember that life is a game. As Tom Landry said, "it is not an undefj season, but it is a game, so we should play it to win." Above all, play it and have fun at it. Thanks letting me share this opening game of your Convention with you.