All NACDA Members
College Athletics in the Year 2000/Perspective #1
(Monday, June 19 - 9:00 a.m.)
Serving as the president of the NCAA certainly was a challenge for me, but nothing like the challenge I now face, which is to introduce four speakers, all of whom would have a lot to say, and ask each of them to get what they have to say said in about a space of 20 minutes because we would like to go on at the end of their remarks to leave some time for audience participation. Our first speaker is Grant Teaff. You all know Grant, 37 years as a coach, 239 games. He coached in the Southwest Conference and was Coach of the Year, had eight bowl appearances and is now executive director of the American Football Coaches Association.
Thank you, Joe. I have spent 45 years in athletics as a participant, a coach, teacher and administrator. I have been blessed to have served in all divisions of the NCAA as a head football coach and as a head track coach in Division III, Division II and Division I-A. I have been blessed through the years to have a deep concern about athletics, not only from a personal standpoint and involvement in my own school and university, but on a national basis, as well. Therefore, I've been involved quite heavily through the years in the various aspects of national interest in athletics. I've served as chairman of the Ethics Committee of the American Football Coaches Association for 12 years, I'm heavily involved in AFCA organizations through all the years because I believe it's important. I've served the NCAA in many capacities. I was on the Gender Equity Task Force. I served, most recently, on the Sportsmanship and Ethical Behavior Committee that I deem to be one of the most important that the NCAA has launched in many years. So I come this morning with a little bit of experience, probably not enough experience to be a sayer and look to the 2000s and see what we can expect to see in college athletics. But, I do have some thoughts and ideas.
I was born and raised in west Texas. I was educated in west Texas. I'm a country boy and you'll know that after I've spoken for a little while. I'm proud of that. I had a background of values and ethics from my family members and friends I've grown up with that have put me in good stead to this day. I'm also a cowboy and I'm proud of that. There's something special about being a cowboy coming from west Texas. I believe in teaching children the openness and freedom of riding horseback. I taught my three daughters that and now my two grandchildren. I was riding with my eight year old grandson, Josh. My horse was in the lead and Josh was behind me. I turned in the saddle to see if Josh was okay and when I shifted my weight, I lost my balance. I slid out of the saddle, hung my left foot in the stirrup and was being dragged. I don't know what would have happened had it not been for the clear thinking and the quick action of the manager of Walmart when he came out and unplugged that thing because I was being drug around in a circle. You can laugh, but it wasn't very funny for me because people were saying, "Look at Coach Teaff going around in a circle." The point of that story is not to impress you with my ability to ride the horses at Walmart, but to make sure that we all understand there's a great difference between perception and reality. This morning, in a brief time, I would like to try to spread a little bit of reality about now and the future of college athletics.
Cost containment is something that Joe mentioned and it is something that we must be constantly aware of. We must constantly strive to do more with less in college athletics. That is something that behooves all entities from the presidents through the coaches, through those that work the equipment. This is an area that we must strive to do better. Gender equity is a large issue because of the verification of the fact that there is no doubt that in America today, we need to increase opportunities for young women to enjoy the opportunity to participate and learn. That must also be promoted down in the high school levels. We've got to get to a position in this country in the year 2000 where young women want to walk on so that we can keep the opportunity for male athletes to participate. This is a tremendous problem facing all of us. It must be solved through open hearts and minds who will work together to take this concept of proportionality and look at it from a realistic standpoint and realize that it can destroy and not improve. It is a concept of lowering participation and not increasing participation. It's something that we must all be committed to and work together to solve. We can do it.
We live in a nation that has changed dramatically over my lifetime. In the 45 years in athletics, we have all seen this nation change. Since the mid '60s to the later '80s and early '90s, our violent crimes in America have increased by 778 percent. Unwed births in this country are up 553 percent, divorce rates are up 117 percent and sexually transmitted diseases are up 226 percent. Even the SAT scores, since the mid '60s have dropped by 80 points. This is alarming. This is something that we, in education, need to recognize and understand that we see before us, before our very eyes, a disintegration of a value system this country was founded on. What must we do about that?
First of all, we must recognize that college athletics can have a strong reflection of our society. I believe we do today. Therefore, if we do today, than it is not altogether unexpected to be able to say that in the year 2000, we could have an impact on this nation through what individuals participate in and what others see in college athletics.
What we must do in college athletics, is increase participation opportunities for everyone. This is essential. We must also recognize that we must eliminate that attitude of in your face, self promotion concepts that we see on the athletic field. There was an article written in the Detroit Free Press. It was written by Mitch Alben. Here were his beginning words, "We measure and we mourn an old friend in sports. He is dead. His name was Grace. He passed away in 1994. The cause of death was neglect. They found him wrapped in a blanket, frozen and forgotten in an alley behind the television studio. He left no survivors. You may recall Grace from your youth, if you're old enough. He played for many teams, many sports. Once upon a time, when his legs were strong, he was welcome on any athletic playing field. He was best known for tipping his hat in baseball, or speaking humbly with reporters in small towns. You saw him respecting a referee's decision in tennis and handing the ball to a referee after a touchdown. That was long ago." The writer goes on to talk about the different aspects of the demise of Grace in the area of athletics. I agree with him on most all of those points except his statement that there are no survivors. I beg to differ. There are survivors. I have survived, you have survived, many who believe in the importance of grace and sportsmanship and ethical behavior and proper conduct in our athletics. Can the survivors restore grace and make a difference in the lives of young people and ultimately, this nation? I believe we can.
I believe that in the year 2000, athletics can be a crown jewel for this nation and for education. The administration, beginning with the presidents, who I am really very happy to see take a strong point of leadership in recent years, much good has been done and much good will be done in the future. Administration has to recognize and understand their role in athletics of the future. The athletic directors and administrators must also recognize that you have a great responsibility, as well. I believe that we must continue to emphasize programs for all athletes like the CHAMPS Program and the Life Skills Program that the NCAA affords. But also, I would admonish all athletic administrators. When you measure your coaches, measure them, not only on the won and loss column, but what value they give to education and what value they give to sportsmanship and ethical behavior and the lives of the young men and women they teach.
The coaches must recognize that they are role models. They must lead the young athletes, male and female, to recognize that they are role models as well. That's a big responsibility. I've heard professional athletes say that, "No, I'm not a role model." I beg to differ. We're all role models. Someone is watching each one of us. Someone is watching every young person who plays in sports. We're all role models.
I believe that associations like the American Football Coaches Association, must take a strong leadership role. We must promote, we must lead and we must emphasize ethics and education. One of the things that I believe must take place between now and the year 2000 in all forms of athletics and, basically through our associations, is coaches' certification. I can tell you that the American Football Coaches Association is deeply concerned about this. We strive to find ways to finance, to educate and certify young coaches coming in so that they can be taught those basic principles, those fundamentals of education that are so important to the longevity and the success of a coach and the way he leads and they way he coaches. College Football USA is a program that we work together with the athletic directors on. We plan to utilize that to promote and educate and to certify coaches in the future.
I believe individual coaches and individual coaches' groups not only must take the lead, but have faith in the lead. If we can have all associations and all coaches in all sports across the nation stand up and take leadership, we will see a very dramatic change in the years to come. Coaches need to realize that they are the key, with your support. In 1993, something happened on the college scene that was disgusting to all of us. Fight after fight broke out on the football field, on the athletic field. It was on national television. It was disgusting, but I can tell you that it was one of the very important things that happened. Because, from that, our association, members of all divisions, Division I-A through Division III, took a strong stand and said this is not right. We will not have it. We suggested and worked with the NCAA Rules Committee, the commissioners and athletic directors across the nation, to make sure that we put teeth in the rules that we have concerning fighting. In one year's time, it disappeared from the face of football. Not one incident was reported in 1994 where two people fought, where there were two people ejected because there was a fight. That is significant progress. Our association, the NCAA Rules Committee and others that were concerned has taken this another step forward.
Our coaches said that we must restore to the game of football, sportsmanship and ethical behavior. How can we do that? We have to do it by taking a stand publicly, which our Division I-A coaches have done some time ago. Our coaches from other divisions, through our board, have taken the same stand. And, of course, the NCAA Rules Committee, headed by Vince Dooley, a former coach and athletic director, this last year, took it upon their shoulders with suggestions and recommendations from the AFCA and began to make a fundamental change in the way that the game of football will be played next year. They did it methodically and correctly. We had a meeting in Kansas City where we saw a particular film of particular plays. There was a discussion that lasted all day as to what fit into the rules we already have, what should be eliminated and what should be allowed. Coming out to that will be a video to all of the athletic directors and to all of the administrators in officiating across the nation. For the first time, I believe we will have, without question, a level playing field for these rules. I might add that these rules have been in the NCAA Football Rules Book for about seven or eight years, with the exception of the new rule, disallowing taking off of the helmet on the football field.
You will see a different view of football next year. Why? Because coaches in our association took a lead and I challenge all other coaches' associations and individual coaches to do the same thing within their own organization. Establish a strong ethics committee. Make ethics as important aspect of the association.
We were asked at a meeting recently, what about someone who goes into the end zone and kneels and is, obviously, praying. That is a penalty because you cannot attract attention to yourself. The cry came out that all coaches were against praying. No, coaches are not against praying. I pray all of the time on the sideline, walking down the sideline. You can pray anywhere. You can pray driving down the road. You don't have to go to the end zone and get attention on yourself by kneeling to pray. That was never a concern. It is the attention. That is a change.
There are those who will say that because our teams in football are dominated by young African-Americans that this is a racial thing. That you're going to try to eliminate the action of these individuals. I say, because we have had strong and long conversations with student-athletes, it is not a black thing, it is not a white thing, it is the right thing. Do it in the way that it should be done. I believe that we will see a change, not only this year, but in the future. Because of that change, I believe, athletics in general will be better off in the year 2000.