Does History Make Heroes …

January16/ 2000

 Could the NCAA’s new academic proposals actually be effective in slowing down, or even reversing, the demise of integrity in major college athletics?  What would or could happen if there was a wholesale paradigm shift in priorities among Division 1-A institutions? Is the leadership to implement such changes in-house or in the wings?

   I fall prey to cynicism as easily as any of you.  I am also a naïve dreamer of “better worlds” where individuals of vision and strength rise out of the crowd to lead “nations” to new heights.  My own experience with clubs, corporations, churches, and organizations of any sort is that they reach a point in their existence where they simply sustain themselves at a certain level … neither good nor bad … simply on an automatic pilot regardless of the periodic changes in leadership.

   Some members are always content with “status quo” … some are always discontent … “new brooms” attempting to sweep clean are sure to stir up dust but much of that dust resettles in short order.

   Even a Cliff Notes study of history reveals that whenever noteworthy “progress” occurs it is usually linked to dynamic leadership … usually centered on one individual.  Someone ALWAYS occupies the throne but few seem to leave a lasting impression for the ages.  For every Abe Lincoln there are numerous Franklin Pierces and Millard Fillmore and James Garfield.  

   While great ideas may come from collective thoughts … the success in implementing those ideas seems dependent upon strong dynamic individual leadership. 

   I personally am not a “group process” sort of fellow.  I disdain the group process after too many years of alternately trying unsuccessfully to be either a good follower or a good leader … I finally decided that I was destined to the ranks of iconoclast, recluse, renegade, and “odd duck”.  Being a happy little “odd duck” works better for me than being a mallard flying in a perfect V formation or being Foghorn Leghorn ruling the barnyard.

   BobLee Swagger therefore is NOT the Moses, the Che Guevarra, or the George Washington answering major college athletics’ need for an inspiring leader to take it through a major restructuring.  Without such a strong-willed leader (and artful compromiser) any “restructuring” is simply rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

   Memorable sports “leaders” I can recall have been IOC’s Avery Brundage, NCAA’s Walter Byers, USOOC’s Peter Ueberroth, and NFL’s Pete Rozelle. How would a Winston Churchill have handled a post 9/11 America … How would a healthy dynamic Micheal Hooker have handles a tumultuous Univ of North Carolina over the past 5 years?

   Myles Brand seems a quite well-meaning fellow  (he stood up to Bobby Knight in the face of strong opposition).  The bureaucracy of the hydra-headed NCAA world … Univ prezs, ADs, coaches, TV execs, et al … seems to call for a stronger force.

   My wistful dreams remain clouded in cynicism … the most effective “leaders” seem to be those who only seek consensus with “the face in the mirror”.

   The following commentary appeared recently on College Charlie’s website.  “Charlie” is a kindred spirit to Ol’ Swagger.  We link to each other and our rants are often echoes across the ether of the Internet.  Charlie’s site link is on our Sponsor page. Check him out.


 Wll the presidents take control?

“Our business is ideas, education … creating an open door for democracy.  None of that will get done if we’re simply viewed as a conduit for athletic prowess.” – Vanderbilt President Gordon Gee.

“Athletics departments should not have their own outsized budgets, separate dorms and plush athletic centers peopled by rock-star coaches and isolated, pampered student – athletes. Campus leaders must wrest control of intercollegiate athletics right now, or lose it forever.” – Myles Brand, NCAA President.

Brand and Gee were speaking at the American Council on Education at its meeting in March.  Gee has already abolished Vandy’s separate athletics department, putting the program under the control of the student life office.  He eliminated the position of Athletics Director.  

Brand and Gee are advocating a complete shake-up in how college athletics are managed and funded.  They are talking about institutional control.  Athletics directors and their departments could not only lose autonomy, but also their jobs. 

For too long, athletics directors have chased the dollar and not the diplomas.  They have given in – yea, sold their souls to television and shoemakers – in order to pay coaches enormous salaries and build lush facilities to keep up with their competitors.  Academics and athletics have become two separate and unequal worlds residing on the same campus.

The haves are trampling the have-nots.  The Tennessee’s, Oklahoma’s and Miami’s, with the help of TV networks, are killing other programs, such as the I-AA division.  Schools on the big time bubble such as Tulane, TCU, Southern Mississippi and others can no longer keep up with the big spenders.  These schools do not put as many affluent or redneck fans in the stadium.  One has to spend big bucks to attend a big DI game.  So you have the big money guy who can afford anything and the ole boy who never even went to college, but saves money all year in order to claim his place in the Big Orange Nation, buying the tickets.  

Too many college athletes are ill prepared to pursue a college education.  Too many never graduate.  Too many are downright thugs.  If real reform happens, most of these guys will never suite-up for Moneybags U.  The NFL will be forced to form a minor league development system like baseball has had all along.  Likewise for the NBA.  

College should be for scholars or those who desire to be scholars.  College should not be a front for tramp athletes and coaches, no more than a bakery should be a front for selling illegal drugs.  Athletic directors and coaches should be on the same pay scale as professors of English and mathematics.  Athletic revenues should go into the general fund and the athletic budget should be built, approved and managed the same as the bookstore, cafeteria or the language department budget.  Mr. Brand, consult the Ivy League.          

    Diane Keaton found Richard Gere when she was “Looking For Mr Goodbar” … then many years later found Jack Nicholson … in the middle there was Woody Allen … YIKES!

Today’s Stumper

James Brolin and Connie Selleca managed what elegant “Hotel”?

At 6:30 AM Wednesday … BobLee, Tiger Woods, and UNC mega-benevolent Fat Cat Johnny Harris will be standing together on the 1st tee at Quail Hollow Country Club in Charlotte.  “Odd ducks” do show up in quite odd places … for sure.

Questions … Comments … Directions

[email protected]

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x