OPENING REMARKS AND KEYNOTE ADDRESS
(Monday, June 10, 8:00 -8:30 a.m.)
Welcome to NACDA's 26th annual Convention. Each year, we seem to add more and more auxiliary meetings to the general program. Currently, we're pleased to have a number of feature attractions, such as the Two-Year College Athletic Administrators' Meeting, the NACDA Workshop for Athletic Fund Raisers, which has gotten a lot of
applause; the Division I-A Women Athletics Administrators Meeting, in addition to the Division I-A Athletic Directors Association Meeting; the NAIA-ADA Annual Business Meeting and many other gatherings. We're also pleased to launch two more Breakfast Roundtable Sessions tomorrow. The Roundtables have really grown in popularity, so we are now offering five sessions in all.
As the NACDA Convention takes on more and more importance in the world of intercollegiate athletics, I have to pass my thanks on to Bill Byrne and the entire Executive Committee for planning what I think is an excellent Convention this year. I think you'll see and hear the fruits of their labor over the next few days. And, last but certainly not least, go through our exhibitors and see the goods and services they offer. As you make your way to our meetings, please pass by and greet those people. We're very thankful that they are a part of our association.
At this time, I would like to introduce Louis Harris, the dean of America's public opinion analysis. Mr .Harris is the author of six books. Since 1963, he has written the weekly column, The Harris Poll, which now appears in over 150 newspapers. He also conducts the Business Week/Harris Poll, which surveys public and executive opinions on team matters affecting the business community. Mr. Harris has set the pattern for the role of private polling on team matters affecting the business community. Mr. Harris has set the pattern for private polling in Presidential campaigns, serving on the strategy committee and polling extensively in the 1960 campaign of John F. Kennedy. He has appeared often on television, having been featured on Good Morning America on ABC and earlier on CBS. It's my extreme pleasure to introduce to you, Mr. Louis Harris.
President Mr. Windegger, thank you for that generous introduction. Let me say that for close to 30-years now, our f1fffi has been conducting polls on sports. I was asked by the Knight Commission to poll those publics and constituencies of colleges and universities, both inside and outside, and find out what are the perceptions of big-time college sports, especially basketball and football. Both Fr. Ted Hesberg and Bill Friday put it to me in this way: we want you to tell us what is the climate out there for reform. Where is today's road map leading to and where is the cutting edge for change? Where will support be found and where will resistance be encountered through reform of collegiate athletics?
My task from the beginning was not to please anyone. I want to ~mphasize that, especially the Knight Commission. I wanted to call it precisely as we found it. Those were the standard conditions of engagement which our firm lives or dies with. I'd like to review the major findings with you now and then zero in on how we found you athletic directors are regarded and, what I believe is the unique opportunity for you to playa highly-pivotal role in determining the future of intercollegiate athletics over the next generation.
I think you're the bulls-eye and you're the ones who can do it. After studying the results of our study, I'm convinced that we've caught the world in which college sports live in a state of dramatic transition. First, I must emphasize that our own sports polls have documented the dramatic increase in the number of fans that you 've generated to college football and basketball. Up from 32 percent of all adults in 1982 to 40 percent today.
Indeed. in this study that we conducted for the Knight Commission. majorities of nine out of every 10 public fans and most of the internal constituencies are convinced of one thing and that is that honest competition in sports is a healthy and positive experience for those who play and for those who watch. By the same token. we found out as early as July of 1989. long before there was any such thing as a Knight Commission. that three out of every four adults in the country felt that intercollegiate athletics had gotten out of control and that the public and fans doubted that the universities in Division I-A would clean up excesses themselves. which in turn. would probably require legislation at the Federal level. I might add. they would favor this by a two to one margin. In this study we asked those same questions again and found the results have not changed one iota over an 18-month period since the fIrst poll.
But, in the Knight Commission Poll we went far beyond, both in depth and in coverage over what had ever been done before. Not only did we survey outside groups, ranging from the public to college presidents, Division I-A athletic directors, Division I-A coaches of football and basketball, but also the faculty athletics representatives, student- athletes, student sports editors, trustees, senior women's sports administrators, conference commissioners, alumni
leaders, booster club leaders, members of Congress, state legislatures and, finally, top athletic high schools throughout the country's principals, coaches and teachers.
Here are some of the major findings or key propositions we tested in this study. The majority of every group agrees that many serious rules and violations in college sports have "undermined universities as places where young people learn ethics and integrity." The reasons for the problems are pinpointed clearly in our results. The academic program, not being given a proper priority over the athletic program, is designed to give favorable publicity for the school and to please the alumni rather than give student-athletes a decent and sound education. This is what they believe.
Also, they think big T.V. money is far too dominant a factor. Another serious problem area centers on women's athletics. Female athletes, coaches and senior sports administrators all almost universally condemn what they believe is discriminatory treatment. Let me add, they receive only mixed backing on the score from other groups. But, failure to act on proper treatment of women in athletics can create a firestorm which all intercollegiate athletics will later regret
The cornerstone of all reform today is that college presidents in the Division I-A schools especially, but all schools, tBke the lead in assuming control of all aspects of college athletics. Presidents, trustees and even boosters, want that by clear margins. Coaches do not. Giving presidents control of athletic conferences their teams play in as well as control of their delegations to NCAA conventions, meets with widespread approval. The presidents would like to become a majority of the NCAA Governing Council. Coaches vigorously oppose that.
Yet anodler major area of reform deals widl academic integrity in big-time athletics. Sizeable majorities believe no recruit should visit a campus until he has met dIe college's admissions requirements, and student-adlletes must be graduated in proportions dIe same as non-adlletes in dIe school. All groups want to require dlat student-athletes meet fully dIe academic norms of dIe freshman class. All groups are willing to extend all adlletic scholarships to five- years.
In the area of financial integrity, there's widespread agreement that all athletic funds should be brought strictly under university control. Coaches and booster club leaders oppose this. Presidents favor appeal of the current rule prohibiting state funds to be used for athletics. AIl key groups supported distributing NCAA Tournament money and some criteria on other than Tournament success. And, all support giving added revenue to schools with high student- athlete graduate rates and good records of NCAA compliance.
On the controversial subject of compensation for coaches, presidents favor all contracts for coaches outside income being made directly with the university, which in turn then decides what a coach's total income should be. Coaches are against this by 80 to 90 percent. However, the antidote for this restriction, make no mistake about it, is giving coaches renewable, long-term contracts after their first three-years of employment. This meets with mixed approval. With even presidents split down the middle on it, clearly, unless the presidents can deliver on giving coaches real security , which most do not, in return for coaches giving up much of their outside incomes, then the trade-off simply will not work.
Another key component of reform is certification. Academic and fiscal integrity in athletics meets with high approval. It receives wide approval of more than eight of 10 of every group. They want an annual audit of these practices. They support not scheduling games with schools not meeting with certification standards.
Proposition 48 has met with approval. The majority of all groups now feel that it has worked well.
Most universities see the situation worse elsewhere than they do in their own school. Big majorities of all groups believe the presidents still will not stand up to the pressures of prominent alumni and important financial contributors and, especially, trustees for having a winning program. I've told the presidents of the Knight Commission that they must have a lot more steel in their backbones than they've ever shown before if they're ever going to do this job. I don't mince words and I told them in exactly those words what I meant
In the end, however, there is real agreement that presidents must take a much fmner hand in controlling intercollegiate athletics. My view is that reform is possible and even probable, but the presidents will need much stiffer resolve, the trustees will have to close ranks, the faculty will have to come out of their academic shells and take part as well. I believe in the end even coaches will accept it.
To put this into sharper focus, let me run through seven key groups. How they are perceived in their role or non-role in dealing with the excesses of college athletics and where they appear to be headed in any showdown over reform.
Let's start with the NCAA itself. The NCAA is rated negatively on controlling the excesses of college athletics by relatively close majorities of every single group surveyed, except three. They are you, athletic directors, coaches and faculty athletic representatives. From our data, it seems evident that the most decisive step the NCAA could take to turn around confidence in it would be to give college presidents firm control of intercollegiate athletics. You athletic directors support this basic proposition by 65 to 24 percent. But, I'm sorry to report, that only 46 percent of coaches agree with you. On this score, coaches are the odd-man out. The prevailing view is that presidents must be the guardians of academic integrity in their institutions. That is easily the most important asset any college or university possesses.
Let's take a hard look at these same college presidents. Only one in thiee of the presidents themselves rate their own efforts in controlling athletic program excesses positive. Two and three don't think they've done a good job. Clearly, presidents do not view themselves able to do this job alone. They must build a new coalition of support if they can develop fIrm alliances with trustees to whom they report. They also need to join with faculty who must assume more responsibility for the quality education given student-athletes. Then, critically with you athletic directors, who must be the agents, the professionals to administer athletic reform.
Coaches, more than any other groups, cleary opt for the status quo. They do not endorse presidents taking over fIrm control of their athletic programs. They resist having their total income controlled by the university and they appear to be highly adamant in their disagreement.
The faculty says that if the facts on how serious the situation is are spelled out, they will respond strongly and rally to become powerful allies of the presidents in helping to insure that student-athletes are treated academically the same as all other students at the university. On the other hand, faculty athletic representatives are rated 77 to 11 percent negative by their own faculty colleagues on how they've handled excesses in college athletics. Getting faculty athletic representatives to be bastions of enforcement of academic excellence should be a high priority in on-campus reform.
Let's turn to the trustees, who, I must confess, were the real surprise of the study. They seem primed to offer strong support for presidential efforts to take charge. They want to go further to demand signed pledges from all hands, from presidents to coaches, to uphold the highest academic integrity standards in their athletic programs. However, we found that the trustees were not well informed. In fact, they know a lot less than we realize.
Finally, let me report on what we found out about your own group, athletic directors. When asked to rate yourselves and how effective you are in controlling excesses, you split yourself right down the middle. Fifty-one percent said you did a good job and 49 percent said you don't. A higher 59 to 11 percent of all coaches give you a higher rating. But, presidents rate you 81 to 19 percent negative; trustees, 59 to 36 percent negative, as does the faculty by 84 to 12 percent. You can find small solace in yet another key fact. Coaches, boosters and faculty athletic reps are rated even more negatively on how they handle excesses. More importantly is where you stand on the spectrum of attitudes on pivotal reform measures. Where you do stand and where you can stand makes crystal clear the role that you can believe.
The majority of you ADs believe and your presidents agree, that the main trouble with big time college athletic programs is that they've taken on a life of their own. A 59 percent majority of the coaches disagree with that. Now, a majority of the coaches hold the view that reform efforts in college athletics come and go, but the desire to win at all costs will endure and finally prevail in the end. You've heard that, I'm sure, many times. You and the presidents sharply disagree with the assessment, but the pivotal issue, presidents taking over control but not daily management of athletic programs shows the sharpest division. Eighty-eight percent of the presidents back this basic commitment while most coaches think it will divert the presidents from paying attention to the more important parts of the universities, meaning nothing to do with athletics.
You athletic directors back the presidents by a solid 65 to 24 percent margin. Once that basic support has been stated, the same pattern holds on a number of other specifics. Sixty-one percent of all presidents favor a move to have all contracts for college outside income made directly with the university and the amount the coach receives determined by the university. Eighty percent of the coaches, as I reported earlier, oppose that rule. You all favor it 57 to 41 percent. You can assure that coaches' compensation is finally brought under control, but in return, that they're also guaranteed the security they're entitled to if they agree how they will be compensated.
Eighty-eight percent of the presidents favor requiring money from athletic foundations raised from alumni boosters be treated just as all other university funds. A 54 to 42 percent majority of the coaches disagree with that proposition. You ADs support it by 71 to 25 percent.
My view is that you are the heart and soul of making reform a reality. You realize you're fully accountable to the presidents, yet, you also make the athletic program work. Why? Because you're the professionals. You know how to do it.
In turn, the presidents must place in you faith and confidence. I know you will do it, for all of what you have spent the better part of your lives working for is at stake. All of it, I guarantee you, is on the line. A generation from now they will ask, where were you and what did you do to make reform happen in intercollegiate athletics? I know you will not be found wanting. Do it now, please. Do it now, not later. Do it now before it's too late. Thank you very much.
I'm Jack Lengyel, from the U.S. Naval Academy. I was one of the people that you responded to and interviewed with regard to the questionnaire on athletics. I have found a lot of your questions ambiguous, out of context and
unfair in seeking information. In fact, so much so, at the end of the interview I asked them not to take my response.
I just wonder, when we have results that come out like that, did you consult with any athletic directors before you made these questions so that you could have some accurate questions that were not taken out of context?
We went over the questionnaire with people who have a vast athletic background.
Were they athletic directors?
I don't think any athletic directors were in it, no.
I think you did us a great disservice, sir.
You do. Well, I appreciate your telling me that. I say this though, when you get a pattern like we did of askil a battery of about 80 questions and you get a fairly fair constituency of differences, I think you'd better heed them. Any other questions?
Mr. Harris, I'm Ed Markey, from St. Michael's College. I would like to question the effect of your professional observation of the perception made and answered to in this survey as relates to the effect that the newspapers, the sports writers and the people outside of the profession of athletic direction has on responses, and maybe formulated perceptions by those people that have an effect on responses that you receive. Could you comment on that please?
What the media says influences the attitudes and opinions of all people. There's no group, I'll say this categorically and I'll probably get myself in more hot water, more opinionated than sport writers. They express their opinions fIrst and look at the facts second. I'll get a lot of heat for that. Having said that, I think all of you have 11 live with the environment in which you find yourselves. Life is cruel, life is unfair and you have to cope with all of that. Yet, I know of no way to turn this off. I've lectured at journalism schools and have told them information the don't like either. Part of it was to get your act together and begin to report what's fact and what's not just a figmen of imagination. Businessmen blame the media. Politicians blame the media and hate the media.
I'd like to sit down with anybody who feels the poll was unfair and go over that question by question. What's more, I'll do it right after this meeting. I think I can justify that we're very careful about the way we phrase these questions. We were testing a whole series of propositions which we didn't know the Knight Commission would con up with, but a lot of them are common currencies, as you know. The athletic directors stand directly between the coaches on one hand, the presidents on the other. It is a sharp difference here. What you can be are the intermediaries. You can be the fellows in between who will either make it work or not make it work.
I'm not afraid to stand up and talk to any group and to report it that way.
Mr. Harris, Cedric Dempsey, from the University of Arizona. As one of those who was surveyed. I'm interested in the process as much as anything else. I felt in answering the survey, that I was constantly qualifying my response. I also felt that the person who was receiving my response was not well educated about intercollegiate athletics. How do you protect your fmdings related to qualified answers?
We monitor every single interview that we do. We look it over for inconsistencies. In fact, we have what we call computer assisted programming and it's all asked to computers. When there is an inconsistency in a question, they'll go back and re-ask it again. That's all directed as part of the process. Again, if any of you want to come to our office in New York and visit with us, you're welcome. It doesn't mean that they're experts in athletics, but what they have to do is follow a questionnaire which we think has been carefully drawn up before. If you begin to deviate from that and let anyone say, "what about this or what about that, it would lose all objectivity. You may quarrel with that method, but it's a sound way in our field and has to be followed.
Thank you and thank you for being so blunt with me. If I can't take it, I can't expect anyone else to take it. Thank you very much.
Thank you, Mr. Harris. If you'll stay seated, we'll begin our next session immediate}y.