NCAA: President Mark Emmert Wants to Move College Sports in a Better Direction

Wow, what a year in college sports. Talk about epitomizing the “bad” behavior that college sports can bring to the table; 2011 was a banner year.

As referenced at CNN, we had the memorabilia trading scandal under Jim Tressel at Ohio State, continued fallout over USC’s Reggie Bush receiving money and gifts during his college career, academic fraud and recruiting allegations at schools like North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, LSU and Georgia Tech, numerous alleged booster “gifts” given to University of Miami players, and certainly topping the list in my book, Penn State and Syracuse sexual abuse/sexual assault scandals.

And mind you, these are only the scandals that broke news. If you don’t think there were other unethical practices and illegal, illicit behavior not discovered, then you are naïve.

Just based on what we know, it would be difficult to argue that college sports have been following a very ethical path lately.

On the contrary, it seems that this environment has become a breeding ground for the win at all costs, what’s in it for me, do whatever I want to do, type attitudes that are far removed from the fundamental principles most would like to see come out of the college athletic arena.

We all know this, we all see this, and Mark Emmert knows it too.

To his credit, Mr. Emmert is embarking on a course of action to “restore some of college sports' core principles -- choosing education over money, amateurism over professionalism and abiding by the rules rather than ignoring them.” That, according to a recent article at ABCNews (NCAA President Pushes to Clean up College Sports).

In that piece Emmert was quoted as saying:

“I've heard people say that there are no ethics and no integrity in college sports and the whole system is broken. But here's the really bad news. There's truth in some of those criticisms,” and “What parts of those stories are true? Sometimes we have seen behaviors that don't match our values. We do have some people that want to win at all costs. We have some student-athletes that don't care about getting an education and some that simply don't get the education they deserve. The worst thing to me is that they completely overshadow all of the good things that are going on in intercollegiate athletics.”

Well said, Mr. Emmert, however, your task is daunting to say the least. You have kids as young as junior high school making college commitments to play sports before most have even been on their first “real” date, current athletes, coaches, and some parents who have their priorities centered on everything but the integrity you want to bring back to the college “game,” and a sports culture that all too often emphasizes winning over long-term athletic, and personal, development.

The media is not of much help either as they help to glamorize (through continual publicity) anything that’s going to make news. And right now, what’s making news in college sports isn’t so pretty.

It saddens me to say that we just don’t see enough inspirational stories focusing on the positives “in the news” these days. Maybe there just aren’t any?

Geez, is there something stronger than that word “daunting” I used above in reference to what Emmert is trying to accomplish? It seems insurmountable.

However, most things truly, deeply worthwhile, the kinds of things that make a real difference and help mold the future, they tend to fall into that “insurmountable” category.

I wish NCAA President Emmert much luck in his efforts, fully supporting the philosophical base from which he is approaching this dilemma. I, for one, would love to see positive change that brings back, or makes real, the core ethical principles that, in my mind, should be at the heart of college athletics.

However, as worthy a path as he has chosen, it is, by no means, going to be an easy road as it is one plagued with obstacles and difficulties, some not yet apparent. Money, especially lots of it, just seems to bring out the worst in people, and in organizations.

That is something our new NCAA president is going to have to deal with. My hats off to you Mr. Emmert, go get ’em!!!

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