Archive for the ‘leadership’ Category

ESPN’s Anderson’s Characterization of USC a Little Harsh

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

After the Josh Shaw fiasco was uncovered, ESPN’s John Anderson went on air and called USC a “clown college.” He mentioned the embarrassment of Pete Carroll and the national championship of 2004 being stripped, Reggie Bush’s Heisman being taken away (which was why the championship was stripped), how they handled Lane Kiffin’s firing and the probation. The Shaw “heroic act” story, followed by his admission of fabricating it must have been too much for Anderson. Thus, the “clown college” reference.

John Anderson attended the University of Missouri. Any embarrassing issues ever transpire there? Well, there was an ESPN Outside the Lines story on far more severe problems than bungled coaching firings and football players lying.

The report from the OTL piece said, “At Missouri, the final count was four — one alleged rape, one alleged physical assault, one sexual assault and one domestic assault - before one of its star athletes left campus in 2010.” Rather than rehash how poorly Missouri handled these crimes, the reader can Google OTL: Athletes, Assaults and Inaction.

Full disclosure: it is true that Mizzou has never had a national championship stripped by the NCAA. Both the 1954 baseball and 1965 track & field national championships proudly remain on display.

How about his current “college,” i.e. Bristol U? Did Anderson miss the June 7, 2013 article in the New York Post by Leonard Greene, entitled ESPN Cracks down after affair reveals culture of sexual harassment?

For years, ESPN operated like a lawless frat house, with more sexual shenanigans than a roadside brothel. A married executive was sleeping with a senior vice president. A female manager told an assistant that men acting like pigs was routine at the network,” it began. The article continued with an interview of a female employee. “If I had a dollar for every time I was sexually harassed at ESPN, I would be a millionaire. . . This is television,” she continued. “That’s what happens. It goes with the industry.”

ESPN’s initial reaction to Greene’s story? According to his article, “ESPN execs tried to punish The Post for its coverage by banning all of the newspaper’s reporters from appearing on any of its programs.

USC a clown college? Anderson might want to temper his remarks next time. Or at least delve into history a little deeper.

As the late Stephen Covey said:

We judge others by their actions, ourselves by our intentions.”

Sarkisian Wins in His USC Opener Despite Absurd Distractions

Sunday, August 31st, 2014

As if being the football coach at USC isn’t difficult enough, Steve Sarkisian was forced to deal with two situations that shouldn’t have taken up any precious time during opening game week.

The first was the saga of Josh Shaw. This fiasco has one more unresolved issue (possibly two) when Shaw decides to come clean and do something that would have served him well at the outset. Tell the truth. “What really happened, Josh?” What inquiring minds want to know is, “OK, you made a mistake and hurt your ankles. Why didn’t you simply tell your trainers you made a bad judgment mistake, jumped off a second floor balcony and messed up your ankles?” The trainers aren’t concerned with what or why as much as they are with getting the player healthy.

Now, the coaches might want to know why one of their newly named captains would do something so foolhardy, and if they asked, wouldn’t they be more sympathetic than “others,” e.g. law enforcement and the media? That brings us to the second unresolved issue, if anyone is interested (and undoubtedly, they would be) and that is, “When whatever happened, happened, why in the world did you make up a story that would 1) bring national attention to your lie and 2) make you out to be a hero?” I’ve heard of people turning negatives into positives but not by fabricating a story that makes you look like a superstar when, in reality, you’re at worst a criminal or at best a fraud.

Sark needed somebody to come to his aid because the Josh Shaw story was taking on a life of it own. With the season nearly underway, just talking about the Trojans’ opening opponent, Fresno State, wasn’t going to satisfy print and broadcast media, much less Internet contributors.

Up stepped senior tailback, Anthony Brown, a player who had requested to be switched from cornerback to tailback. The coaches honored his request and at the time of his meltdown, it was reported that he was at best fourth on the Trojans depth chart. What meltdown?

A few days ago, Brown walked into Coach Sark’s office, apparently, wondering what his role was. By now, it’s safe to draw the conclusion that he didn’t like what his (now former) head coach told him. He then decided to do what many of today’s disgruntled people, of all walks of life, do. He took to social media, calling Sarkisian, of all things, a racist. If ever there was a topic that would generate interest in the injustice that was befalling him, race was it.

While I know neither Brown nor Sarkisian, something in this story immediately confused me. Weren’t the three guys ahead of Brown on the depth chart black? So, was he calling Sarkisian a selective racist? It’s been reported that, once Brown went on his vent, there were other players in the program who referred to him as a knucklehead. That’s probably too kind.

USC beat Fresno State and Sark, the racist, used three (black) tailbacks to rush for 277 yards in the blowout. Had Brown kept his mouth shut and just kept working, there’s a pretty good chance the tailback number would have been four with the total yardage higher than 277.

This is just another example of that old adage we, i.e. most of us, learned long ago:

“Make sure your brain is in gear before putting your mouth in motion.”

Being on the Hot Seat Is Nearly as Bad as Being Unemployed

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

The following is a blog I did nearly five years ago to the day (8/30/09) and it’s just as true today as it was then.

Preseason predictions are fun because, if nothing else, they signal that the actual season is right around the corner. Ranking teams (and even players) is one of America’s favorite past times because it gives bragging rights for the young (even though they might be somewhat immature) and gives additional debate topics for adults (who act even more immature).

“My school/team is ranked higher than yours” and “No way should your school/team be ranked higher than mine” are the two most overused phrases in sports’ arguments - at least until real games are played. Then the arguing will still continue, but at least an occasional statistic will be thrown into the conversation, giving at least one person some credibility.

One category that I’ve never found amusing, pertinent, or in any way necessary, (as readers of this space might have guessed) is that of “Coach on the Hot Seat.” Sure, it’s rubs me the wrong way because I spent so much of my adult life in the world of coaching, but, disregarding that, what purpose does it serve?

Is the author of the article or “list” telling readers something of true interest - or intrigue? Normally the person sitting in that spot either lost the previous season, or has strung a few of them together. So, what’s the point of the category? It isn’t like a reader will come across the name and say, “Hey, that guy has lost the past few years. How come he’s still around?” I doubt anyone ever made the list who was coming off of a winning campaign.

While compassion is not, nor has ever been, a required trait of any member of the sports media, what has always bewildered me is the lack of humanity when including a “coach on the hot seat” category. I completely understand and agree with the other (positive categories) - although eliminating “coach on the rise” wouldn’t bother me in the slightest, probably because I look at team sports as being about the team. It is, after all, what the coaches are constantly preaching. (I’ve always felt the post-season award should be called “Coaching Staff of the Year”).

My reasons for wishing “COTHS”  be stricken from print is that, first of all, it hurts recruiting (which might be a major reason the guy’s on it in the first place). On the college level, players, coaches and recruits will question the coach (or his assistants) about the job (in)security - and there’s really no way of answering it. Only the ultimate boss, e.g. the AD, president or chancellor has the final say to that question. It’s similar to asking, “Do you still beat your wife?” Whatever he says hurts his position.  Only his wife can answer honestly that question. In addition, with all the negative recruiting that goes on at the intercollegiate level, rival recruiters feel it’s not wrong to point out the “hot seat” remark - since it is in black and white, i.e. it’s not “gossip.” Although, until it’s printed by that school’s decision-maker, gossip is exactly what it is.

If it’s on the professional level, it often destoys the coach-player relationship, especially if the coach has to deal with an ultra-ego (selfish and/or low intellect) player or, worse, his agent. Seeing your name on the “hot seat” list adds fuel to any disgruntled player (especially if his minutes are down). “Hey, man, this cat ain’t goin’ to be around much longer. What do I need to show him respect for? He ain’t been showin’ it to me.”

But, the worst reason for it is that it’s often devastating to the coach’s family. Coaches won’t hear it themselves because people know who they are and most of the public have the common decency to keep their mouths shut when the coach is within “hearing range.” This, however, doesn’t apply to the coach’s wife, often unrecognizable, and thus, all too susceptible to overhearing gossip such as, “Yeah, I heard Ol’ Coach is gone if he doesn’t win this year/this week/tonight.” Something like that tends to put a damper on the remainder of Mrs. Coach’s day.

Worst of all, is the impact that kind of rumor has on the coach’s kids. Sure, he took on the job - and at the big-time college level and in the pros, a large check accompanies it. But when kids (and the younger the kids, the worse it is) hear their classmates repeat what their daddy said to his neighbor the night before, “fight or flight” usually is the result for the offended youngster.

Plus, say it does turn out to be true and the guy gets pink-slipped. As a journalist, are you going to pat yourself on the back (”Hey, remember, I called that one even before the year started”)? Does being right about a person’s demise give you a warm feeling all over?

What if you’re wrong and it turns out not to be true? (Well, you can always lead off next year’s column with him). And he didn’t get fired, not because the team won, but because of other factors, unknown to you.  Like: the school gave a commitment to the coach and feels it should honor that commitment (eschewing the “instant gratification” of most administrators - usually brought on by pressure from money people). Or maybe the administration feels the coach is handicapped by, say, poor facilities (that he was promised when he signed on, but because of budget cuts, never received) or injuries to key players, i.e. the decision-maker(s) is (are) really close to the program and he’s showing him/her/them exactly what he/she/they hoped for when the coach was hired? Or maybe the administration just happens to believes they hired the right person and decides to stick with that right person - similar to the way former director of athletics Tom Butters did when the guy he hired had a rocky start in his first three years.

Today, Tom Butters is held is the highest esteem - by other administrators, coaches and fans - for sticking with Mike Kryzyzewski, even though Coach K was nine games under .500 and had an ACC record of 13-29 after his first three years in Durham.

Why did Butters keep Coach K when, had he fired him, no one would have questioned him? Probably for the same reason Butters, retired since 1998, said he knew Mike would make a statement of support to the lacrosse players who were wrongly accused of rape (I hope today’s reader hasn’t forgotten that tragedy).

“There are times you have to put your ass on the line.”

Kobe’s Solution to Paying NBA Players Might Not Be Embraced by Others

Monday, August 25th, 2014

Since I’d been spending so much time traveling around the state recently (Santa Barbara, LA, Stanford, Monterey), I decided to catch up on my reading, i.e. things I would have been doing had I been in town. One Internet post that caught my eye was written by Sam Galanis.

In it, he says Kobe Bryant made the statement (to Sports Illustrated’s Chris Ballard) that players (like himself and LeBron James) are actually underpaid. Kobe feels LeBron’s free market value would be in the neighborhood of $75 million per year (a neighborhood Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and . . . Michael Jordan would never allow themselves to be caught in).

Kobe believes it’s important to set an example in contracts, that the “max” players shouldn’t have to take salary cuts to create cap space. After mulling his idea over, his point is quite clear. (Most of) those guys are worth that much money to their franchises. Here, though, is a question that apparently, has never crossed his mind: “What about your teammates? What kind of value - on the open market - would they command?”

To slice right to the heart of this discussion, let’s skip over the other starters and rotation players. Exactly what would be the free market value of players 10, 11 and 12? Using the “money generated” criterion, how many fans buy tickets to see them (not, or barely) play? How many of their jerseys are purchased?

In terms of the actual player’s value toward winning, what kind of monetary worth would they command? At this point, we’re talking about the ultimate role player, i.e. the guy who gets quality PT only when someone in the rotation is injured. Occasionally, even that contribution is minimal, i.e. until the GM brings in an out-of-work veteran who is a better fit.

Still, players 10, 11 and 12 (as well as the two inactive players on the roster) are highly desirable positions to aspiring professional basketball players. Although there’s the probability of game after game DNP-CDs (Did Not Play - Coach’s Decision), there are a laundry list of positives. Begin with years toward being vested in the retirement system and per diem (which, I think, goes up to $126 this season). Move on to getting the opportunity to “audition” for other teams when they do get into a game, or just the perks that come with being able to call themselves “NBA players” (adulation, increased self-worth, making a living by playing a game or even, let’s be real, the groupies, many of whom have no idea what the status of the player, only that he’s a pro ballplayer.

So, with all that in mind, what do you think that level of player would play for? $75,000? $50,000? $30,000? First, a player would have to weigh the alternatives. Playing overseas is an option that pays well but only in certain leagues and countries. Plus, the number of non-native players on each foreign team is usually limited to one or two. And the player, in most cases, would have to live in a country in which the predominant language is not English - not an attractive alternative for many.

What kind of salary could a guy command outside the field of basketball? Often, that depends on whether a degree was earned. Maybe an advanced degree. Remember, it’s a free market system. Basketball skill is no longer a prerequisite for employment.

Another of Kobe’s quotes to Ballard was “As athletes, you get the pressure of playing for the love of the game. Of course we do. But do owners buy teams for the love of the game?” Ha! Good point, one might say. Not really.

If Kobe’s making a reference to owners buying teams as an investment in which they expect to make money, let’s carve that theory up right here and now. First of all, people who purchase NBA franchises don’t do so to make money. They already have money! Does anybody really believe Steve Ballmer forked over $2,000,000,000 (yeah, NINE ZEROES) because he thought the Clippers were a great investment? By Forbes’ estimate, last year the Clippers made $15 million. With new league and local TV deals, the annual profit he could realize might be $50 million. Hey, that’s not a bad year!

Except he’d have to do so for 40 years before he broke even. That’s a long time. Ask Israel how long - and dreadful - 40 years (of wilderness wandering) is.

Owners buy teams, mainly, for one reason. They want to own an NBA franchise. No matter how much money their portfolios show, there are only thirty NBA franchises in the world. If held onto long enough, they can be sold for a profit. Beyond that, the dream these rich people have is, as Steve Ballmer so eloquently put it:

“They want a ‘Larry.’ “

   

What to Do When You’ve Run Out of Questions - and It’s Your Turn to Ask

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

At yesterday’s Los Angeles Clippers’ enthusiastic fan fest/rally, there was an accompanying press conference with President of Basketball Operations/Head Coach Doc Rivers and new owner (how much of a relief is it to hear that term in relations to the Clips’ organization?), Steve Ballmer. Everything under the sun was asked of the new boss at both venues - and then some.

Most people, if they put their minds to it, could guess the queries posed to “Steve” - as he informed the Clipper faithful they should call him. The obvious questions like, “Are you planning on moving the team?” (an emphatic “No” came from the head honcho - he did explain he lived in Seattle and a friend of his, a “Bill Gates,” asked him to work for him - and that had worked out OK, so he didn’t regret living in Seattle), and “Where do you plan on sitting?” (”Court side” was that answer  - although, when you shell out $2 BILLION, the answer could have been, “Anywhere I want!” and no one would have raised a concern).

One question I thought I didn’t hear correctly was asked by a member of the media. “Do you plan on changing the name?” Why in the hell would anyone want to change the name? There might have been a time when the Clippers should have changed their name, but certainly not after their three most successful seasons in team history (60.6, 68.3, 69.5 wining percentages, respectively). The reason it was brought up was because there was a feeling that the Clippers would be associated with their previous owner. After watching yesterday’s love fest at Staples - where his name wasn’t uttered even once - it’s a whole new generation for the Clippers. Now is the time to capitalize on the team name, not change it. Besides, why would the team change its name. Because they’re no longer in San Diego, where the Clipper name originated?

It’s not like boats are never seen in the Los Angeles area. It’s definitely more appropriate than calling the team in Utah the Jazz. Or calling a team that got its nickname from the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” (the line that’s on the bottom of Minnesota license plates) the Lakers. Changing names and logos are done at considerable expense, too. When will the Charlotte Hornets, Bobcats, Hornets recoup all that money from their change(s)? Maybe that’s a little different situation but how happy are the folks in New Orleans they can now root for the Pelicans?

With all the positive vibes flowing throughout the Staples Center, why would someone bring up such a foolish question? What should have been considered was a line I learned from my late mentor, the brilliant John Savage:

“Before you open your mouth to speak, make sure what you have to say is an improvement on the silence.”

When It Comes to Sports (the three majors anyway), the Economy Is Just Fine

Monday, August 18th, 2014

The preseason game between the Cleveland Browns and the Detroit Lions was the most-watched preseason game ever on NFL Network with 2.82 million viewers. Imagine what tonight’s will draw. Undoubtedly, the reason was due to the backup quarterback for the Browns. Johnny Manziel doesn’t even start and yet his is the top selling NFL jersey. Better than Super Bowl winning QB Russell Wilson of the Seahawks (No. 2), Colin Kaepernick of the 49ers (No. 3) and, arguably, the greatest field general of all-time, Peyton Manning of the Broncos (No. 4). Hey, my wife is a Tennessee graduate (if it were her blog, the word “arguably” would never have been included).

Granted, excitement and hype is what sells but, c’mon, Manziel, himself, admits he’s probably not gonna be the opening game starter. Yet, more people want to wear his jersey than any other player in the league. Take a look at what those jerseys go for and tell me the people who bought them cared about football when they forked over that much of their hard-earned dough. It goes to show we buy with our hearts, not our brains. And don’t think the fans buying the Johnny Football jersey are those who are sitting in the suites. Not to judge a book by its cover, but checking out the guys I see wearing them makes me wonder what item(s) in the monthly budget lost out to sartorial splendor.

How about the NBA? Team USA is garnering more than their fair share of the airways and print space - considering it’s August! The NBA Sirius radio station (ch 86) constantly has phone lines buzzing, callers wanting to talk about the Cavs, Bulls, Heat, Knicks, Pacers, Nets, Raptors, Hawks. Consider those teams are from the weaker East. Can anyone imagine what’s going to happen when the season actually rolls around? Some time, not so long ago, it seemed like the Donald Sterling fiasco took nearly all the air time. Now, it’s like he never even existed. If only.

Whether it’s the tragedy of Paul George’s injury (and how courageously and eloquently he’s dealing with something so gruesome) or the return of LeBron to Cleveland (and maybe that Love child?) or, even, the college game, hoops fans are being heard this off-season like never before. The only topic that no one seems to be talking about is, “Will the Spurs repeat?” but that is as it usually is about this time of year. Check back next June.

Major league baseball is averaging over 30,000 fans per game, down a couple hundred from last year. The number of teams with greater attendance this year compared to those with fewer attendance is nearly identical (14 up, 16 down with the Padres being only 97 additional patrons away from making it an even 15-15 split.

There will be new commissioners running two of those sports but don’t think that they’re the reason for all the sports excitement. As thrilling as all of it gets, no one should ever complain about players’ salaries or cost of tickets, concessions or gear. Even the astronomical TV deals shouldn’t surprise because there’s a reason the prices are set where they are. We should heed the wise advice of Henry Ford:

“It is not the employer who pays the wages. Employers only handle the money. It is the customer who pays the wages.”

Fans of USA Basketball Need to Adjust Expectations

Sunday, August 17th, 2014

After watching the USA beat Brazil in a “friendly” or exhibition basketball game last night, I didn’t come to some of the same conclusions that the talking heads or people giving their opinions on the Internet (some of them doing everything short of shouting, “The sky is falling”).

As could be expected, the team didn’t look as far along as we all had hoped. Ever since the pros were allowed to play, we’ve become used to total world domination, not some team from South America trailing by only 5 in the second half - even if that team had several (talented veteran) NBA players on it.

No doubt the offense looked like either “my turn, your turn” (which many teams actually use now as their primary means for scoring in the half court) or somewhat ineffective pick and rolls. It was mentioned during the broadcast (although I only heard it once or twice, possibly because I wasn’t glued to the set) that Mike Krzyzewski said they had designed much of the offense to feature Kevin Durant, only to have KD realize he hadn’t taken a day off from hoops since he was in sixth grade and figured it might be a prudent move to rest just a little before the NBA season tipped off. Paul George going down with that gruesome injury shook up the offense - as well as everyone who witnessed it - a bit, too.

What I saw was that, independent what they run at the offensive end (and don’t think for a minute the staff isn’t revamping their offensive ideas for the club as you are reading this), Mike is adamant that, whatever five he puts on the floor, they are going to absolutely shut off their opponent’s water. Defense has always been the key of Coach K’s teams (certainly some of his clubs more than others) and this version of USA will be the same. James Harden be forewarned.

With a few offensive tweaks (OK, maybe more than just a few) - and several practices (on and off the floor) - the USA will be fine. It’s going to take something Mike isn’t always fond of - patience.

We may have to go all the way back to what John Quincy Adams said to find our solution:

“Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.” 

A Classic Example of a “Hog that Got Slaughtered”

Saturday, August 16th, 2014

The following is a blog from May of 2008. After reading it (re-reading for the most loyal of readers), you might just be able to see why coaches weren’t so enthused with their governing organization. The fact the NCAA would lose so much of its clout is something that, 40 years ago, would have been deemed unfathomable. Those of us in the business always thought college athletics (especially football and men’s basketball) were extremely popular but I can’t think of anyone who predicted how much money would be generated. The NCAA must not have believed the old adage: “Pigs get fat; hogs get slaughtered.” 

The National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) is an absolute necessity. There must be a governing body for intercollegiate athletics. That being said, it can be viewed, not as a necessary evil, but as necessary and evil. My interaction with this colossal organization dates back to 1972 when I took the job of graduate assistant basketball coach at the University of Vermont. Back then, many folks closely associated with the NCAA saw it as pure evil.

There are so many personal stories, even for someone so far on the outside, that my comments will probably be spread over at least a couple blogs. “Back in the day,” as the current terminology goes, the NCAA was, if not the most arrogant organization in the country, certainly one that was annually in the finals for the award. They’d win every case against them (caused by many of their unfair and archaic rules) with the same absurd logic, “The NCAA is a voluntary organization. You choose to become a member and may leave it at any time,” as if there was a major university in the country that was about to hold a press conference and say, “We have an announcement to make; as of today, our institution is applying for membership in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).”

It was a monopoly in the truest of sense of the word. Through the years, and with a change in leadership, i.e. when “The Great and Powerful” Walter Byers finally retired, it became, if not “a kinder and gentler NCAA” that some people (mainly those at the NCAA) would like the giant to be thought of, but as a group that makes rules and rulings with more compassion and, in some cases, on an individual basis.

However, the worst idea (aka public relations gimmick) someone thought up is that of “graduation rates and APR” (Academic Progress Rate). This is intended to come off as, “Although we have bright, caring and talented student-athletes in nearly all our sports, certain sports, (namely, those that produce all of our revenue), have not emphasized the ’student’ half of the term we use for their participants. This is very disturbing to us (although not nearly as disturbing as if CBS had not signed off on the $6 billion - with a ‘b‘ - contract for the rights to men’s basketball) and we plan to take immediate steps to … get our fans to think we really care that such a small percentage of the individuals representing these sports actually leave school with a degree (which everyone would like to think is the reason these young, unbelievably gifted, physical specimens enroll in college for in the first place).”

The major problem is the paradigm itself. Certainly, a college degree is the ultimate goal of a college student (unless another opportunity to improve the student’s station in life becomes a possibility, e.g. leaving school early (maybe even after only one year) because he can earns millions doing what he always dreamed of doing or someone like Bill Gates who dropped out of college but still managed to carve out a good living for himself and his loved ones - even if his loved ones number in the billions - with a “b”). The cross-section of colleges throughout the nation have very different, and sometimes diametrically opposed missions. A one-size-fits-all policy is simply unjust.

Examples are Stanford, Duke and the Ivies whose mission is to educate the “classes,” as opposed to, among others, state universities whose mission is to educate the “masses.” The former do their weeding out process on the front end whereas a school like one of my former coaching stops, the University of Toledo, has the admirable policy (or did when I was there from 1987-91) of admitting any child, as long as that student had graduated from an accredited high school in the state of Ohio. There is a need and a place for both types of institutions of higher learning, as well as all those in between. To say their APR’s should be calculated the same way is to say wrestling shouldn’t have different weight divisions for its competitors. Too bad if you weigh 106, your next opponent weighs 350, and if you lose, you’re out (probably cold).

Many people feel athletes should graduate at a higher rate. After all, they contend, they’re on scholarship (the ones mainly being discussed in this blog anyway) and have no monetary problems. Plus, they get all that academic assistance, including the advantage of preferential registration, individual and group tutors, access to computer labs, etc. while the “average” students may have to work part-time jobs to make ends meet and eat and study when they can squeeze it in. This is all true, but consider that the athlete is also “working” for that scholarship and the amount and intensity of the time and work they exert in most cases far exceeds any part-time job in the community. Then, there’s additional pressure (which, granted, the athletes can turn in their favor) that student-athletes are forced to handle, such as being placed in gut-wrenching situations, dealing with the media and having to adjust to inconvenient travel schedules.

Title IX is based on the female population at the school. It would be absurd, for example, to require West Point to spend equal amounts of dollars on its male and female athletes. Instead, the law states the number of scholarship athletes has to be within five percent of the student body (it may have changed to three percent, I’ve admittedly been away from the college scene for several years). So, if a school has a student-body enrollment of 55% women, it has to have a minimum of fifty percent of its athletes be female.

That is how graduation rates should be calculated for all universities. The particular sport should be within (use an arbitrary number, say) five percent of the graduation rate of that university. To reward Stanford for graduating 85% of its athletes in a sport when the overall graduation rate on the Farm might be 95% (numbers are arbitrary and not based on research, just used to make a point) is simply, if not morally, wrong - just as its wrong to penalize a school that graduates 67% of its athletes when the school’s overall graduation rates for its student body is 55%. In a fair and just society, the rewards and penalties would be reversed.

But do you really think that, with the presidents who make up the NCAA’s governing board, that something as reasonable as that will ever happen?

The biggest problem with the NCAA was arrogance, mainly derived from power. As Lord Acton said:

 

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Coaching Salaries Should Never Be Market Driven

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

The following is the first entry on my new computer. A combination of my age and my lack of interest in anything technological severely hinder what I can do on a computer. I’m from a generation which values verbal and written communication more than something from a computer. Since my skills are speaking and writing, I have a tough time doing anything but. Until technology floats my boat like speaking and writing do, blogging will have to be what bridges the generation gap for me. 

What I find odd, especially in this economy, are the salaries paid to employees that are based on “market value.” As an example, let’s look at college basketball coaches. John Calipari, Mike Krzyzewski, Tom Izzo, Rick Pitino and other highly successful coaches are paid quite handsomely (that’s one way to put it). All have something in common - success at the highest levels. In addition, it’s been proven that each of those coaches accounts for more than what he’s paid. Because these guys are raking in big money for their respective universities, directors of athletics, presidents and their boards feel compelled to “put together as attractive a package” as they can to bring to their university a coach who will achieve the kind of success the highest paid coaches do. To me, it seems as though these “leaders” are putting the cart before the horse.

An AD I once knew who had a head basketball coaching position open confided in me that he intended to pay the new coach around $400,000. That was double what the previous coach (who had retired) had made. “What?!?” was my incredulous reply. “Why?” He told me coaching salaries were “market driven.”

“Look, the guys you’re talking to are assistants who, at the most, are making $125,000″ (the list had already been pared to four). “Offer them $175,000.” I tried to reason, “That’s a $50,000 raise, the opportunity to be a head coach, what nearly every assistant wants, and your job is one of the best in the conference. Ask people on the street what they’d do for a $50,000 raise.”

“Oh, if we offered that, we’d never get any of these guys,” was his retort.

So what? Not one of them has ever called a time out yet!” It was around that time I realized why athletics administration had never appealed to me. It was time to drop a bombshell on him. “If you did your homework, really got out there and thoroughly investigated - by leaning on friends and associates you trust, not taking the easy way out by paying some head hunting firm $50-60,000 - and told them you were offering $175,000, I’d be willing to guarantee you that you’d wind up with just as good a coach as you would for $400,000.

“As far as spending the money you want, you load his contract with incentives - winning, naturally, but also for paid attendance, graduation rates, conference championships and whatever else is important to the university. That is what’s fair. Pay for performance, not market value. He won’t work any less hard; in fact, he’ll probably work harder because he needs to prove himself. If you think a bigger school is going to come along and snatch him up when he wins, chances are that if the school is big enough, you won’t be able to come close to their price anyway.”

Never did I think my advice would be taken seriously (it wasn’t) but, for the life of me - maybe because of my math background - I can’t understand why college leaders are blind to an obvious statistic. At the end of the season, when conference records are posted, there will be exactly as many wins as losses. In other words, some coach’s team will finish last, another next-to-last, etc. Yet, all of them are being paid at market rate. Why? Who the hell set up such an absurd salary structure?

Pay for performance. That’s how the country began. If you were good, you made it; if you weren’t, you didn’t. Now, once your coach produces, then pay him. Of course, at the time of your search, if there’s someone out there you really want, e.g. like Louisville did with Pitino, hey, do what needs to be done. By the way, Rick had previously called times out and he had done well with that aspect of the game, as well as all others. But, for the school that posts a job and waits for applications, more legwork should be done, less salary and more incentives offered.

I recall a marketing director at one of my stops, whenever a marketing idea was proposed, the staff would hear the identical response. “That’s a good idea but it is labor intensive.” If you should ever be on the receiving end of such a reply, remember this:

“Labor intensive is just another term for . . . WORK.”

An Unrealistic Plan to Right the Country

Saturday, July 19th, 2014

If you haven’t noticed the United States doesn’t seem to be so “united” these days, you must either be completely oblivious to your surroundings or belong to the hermit association, a group that meets every February 30th. Today, as soon as a proposal by anyone is made, we can be assured that somebody or some group, somewhere will mock it as impractical, illogical, insane and/or irrational. Even before the proposal is completed.

My wish, as I’ve stated previously (to anyone who will listen, and even some who wouldn’t), is that the Republicans win the next presidential election. I can almost hear the groans now (which further proves my above observation). So, please, let me finish. Then, my hope that the Democrats do to the Republicans exactly what the GOP has done to them while they held the office of the presidency. What would occur is that the roles would be reversed. The party that’s not in power would criticize every move their “opponents” would make. It’s become you don’t want your party to be in power because it’s easier (and more fun) to criticize than be accountable.

Here’s where it gets tricky. Somebody, even better, a lotta somebodies will come to the realization that this attitude doesn’t work. And it never will! Once elections are over - and I know this next statement defies the essence of politics - you’re no longer opponents. You’re actually active participants of the same team. Our team. The United States of America. Kinda like the World Cup. There were basically two types of Americans - those who wanted the U.S. to win and those who didn’t care. I can’t think of anyone I know - or even heard of - who wanted our guys to lose.

Make no mistake about it, it will take a person, or group of people, who will have the courage to tell politicians (especially if the bearer of this news flash happens to be a pol him or her or themselves) that their current actions are ruining the country. Independent of how much money there is to be made in the political game - and, unfortunately, it is a game - our elected officials (and their strategists) must start treating this country like a team. This means everybody working together. In order for all of us to prosper, sacrifices are going to need to be made. Not only sacrifices by others (the kinds everyone favors), but changes that will make our own lives hurt some. Maybe even more than “some.”

People with large dollars will object because the majority of them solve problems by throwing money at them. OK, charge them for that way of thinking. We sure as hell could use the extra revenue. For the rest of us, we have to change our way of thinking - and living. For my people (Baby Boomers), we’re going to have to suffer somewhat for our kids’ well-being. Truth be told, we (and our lifestyle of excess) have screwed the next generations quite a bit. Some of us more than others. Much of it not really our fault, i.e. we weren’t emphatically told much of what we were doing was bad for the nation (or earth). If we were, I wasn’t paying attention.

I once asked a teacher friend of mine if he thought the district administrators pay should be reduced. “Definitely,” he exclained.

“How about the administrators on campus?” I asked.

“Yup,” was his immediate reply.

“How about the teachers?”

“Absolutely not!!!” he screamed.

If we don’t want to tighten our collective belts, than the answer is raise more money. There are brilliant people in this country who might just come up with an idea or two which can lighten the load a little. Or a lot. A giant bake sale probably isn’t the answer, yet, a long, long time ago someone whose group was in need of money came up with the concept of the bake sale. Voila, money was raised, people enjoyed a treat or two and everyone was thrilled. So now the question becomes, “Who will come up with the 21st century version of the bake sale?”

While we wait for that revelation, a Congress that acts together, with the nation’s best interests at heart - meaning no hidden agendas (once again flying the face of what politics has become) - would work wonders for all of us. I admit I’m skeptical, mainly because the greatest indicator of future behavior is past performance but that kind of cooperation, plus sacrifice by all of us, plus some creative thinking will improve the health of our once strong nation.

Our stance must be as simple as the old saying:

“You don’t drown by falling in the water. You drown by staying there.”