2010-11 College Swimming & Diving Honors
Introduction: An NCAA sell-out What you expect from a coach as you get into sports. Upon reading a recent story in Sports Illustrated on wrestling coach and former Indiana All American wrestler, Mike Powell, he is quoted before every meet with "Character, boys, that's all it's ever been about, all it will ever be about and all it's about tonight." The author, Chris Ballard, brilliantly compiles consistent accounts of Powell’s living example. In presenting this message to his team on a regular basis, he is after all doing what we expect of any coach. Powell is a former NCAA athlete too Each time he addresses his team pre-match, Coach Mike Powell is also professing the one of the primary virtues of the intercollegiate experience; character. Mike Powell gets it. So do the 400,000 athletes who are graduating and going “pro” in something else get it. However, there are a lot of associated people who simply don’t get it. Character and it’s virtuous siblings are words too often overused and abused in the form of shields by those who are the antithesis of character. If it supposed to be about character. One of the stories of the past year is the poor decision-making lacking all character which are indirectly jeopardizing the entire enterprise of collegiate athletics....or at least the notion that it is an amateur versus professional sports organization. There was no lack of news last spring and summer as one high profile football program after another was linked multiple investigations with
unfortunate findings of significant violations. Despite new names being cited, the headlines actually were similar to the major scandals of previous seasons. (August 2011; August Yahoo Sports! headline: Renegade Miami football booster spells out illicit benefits to players. July 2010; ESPN headline: Sources; NCAA investigating North Carolina Tar Heels‘ Football program. NYT March 2009: NCAA Penalizes Florida State for Academic Fraud. Of the 2011 scandals, the problem was not only were the actual scandals themselves but the frequency at which they were appearing. Enough action took place last summer that ESPN even posted a commentary titled the 2011 Offseason Scandal Power Rankings (see DJ Gallo, June 30, 2011.) Interestingly the author left a place holder in the tenth spot stating that someone will come along to crack the list. Looking back, the only error the author made was not leave the top spot open versus the tenth now knowing what was about to unfold in November out of the flagship university for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Why did Miami drop Men’s Swimming & Diving again? The sophistication of college athletics probably rivals anything that existed in professional sports prior to the start of the 21st century. Resources including athletic and strength training, staffing and marketing are just some of the elements of an exponentially greater commitment to being athletically competitive. Expectations and pressure to succeed are at a premium.
The NCAA very early in the rule book spells out Principles for Conduct of Intercollegiate Athletics prior to defining the association’s rules. The rulebook seems to mirror what has become of college athletics as we define these rules early and then move on or better yet, move around them very quickly. However, those who dominate the headlines often are those who are either winning at a very high level OR are violating some of the first rules listed in the book. The problem becomes far-reaching when you get an athletic department that allocates a ton of money for a single team that is suppose to; 1. Win and be successful. 2. Provide a financial return on the initial investment. 3. Conduct themselves according to the NCAA rules. For example, the University of Miami invests roughly 17 million dollars for a team in 2011 that produces a record of 6-6 with no season ending bowl game and a scandal that included a booster providing significant funding to benefit both players and staff (source: 2/24/12, businessofcollegesports.com ) Needed: a marketing team for collegiate swimming & diving. We need to make collegiate swimming and diving exciting and relevant with one of the first objectives being a sold out national championship. A lot of other steps can be taken to further improve the status of swimming and diving in the eyes of people who are not swimmers and divers, coaches and fans. However, how can you not walk away... continued on next page