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Thursday's question of the day: What should be the top priority of the next NCAA president?

September 17, 2009 | 11:39 am


The death of former NCAA president Myles Brand brings up Thursday's question of the day: What should be the top priority of the next NCAA president? Reporters from across the Tribune family tackle today's question of the day, then you get a chance to chime in and tell them why they are wrong.

Shannon Ryan, Chicago Tribune

The person who fills Myles Brand's shoes as the next NCAA president had better be willing to march them down unpopular roads if and when necessary to take the organization to new heights.
Brand, who died Wednesday of pancreatic cancer at 67, often made decisions that didn’t always go over well but always seemed to have his well-meaning objective at heart.
It’s often easy to laugh at the hypocrisy of the term “student-athlete.” But Brand did his best to assure “student” remained a part of that noun, while still dealing with the reality that college athletics are part of a major money-making business.
The next NCAA president should continue to enforce institutions of learning to extend that mission to the men and women who play sports at their schools.
After beginning his term in 2003, Brand called for tougher eligibility standards. The NCAA enacted two new academic rules, the Academic Progress Report and the Graduation Success Rate, which provide statistics on how athletes are performing academically. Schools that don't comply or fail to reach a certain standard face punishments such as scholarship losses.
As a result, graduation rates rose.
And so did Brand’s legacy.

Paul Doyle, Hartford Courant

The late Myles Brand came to the NCAA as a reformer six years ago and he leaves an impressive legacy, including a heightened focus on academic standards in college sports. But there was one issue beyond reach of the NCAA president – the inane Bowl Championship Series that pretends to crown a national champion in college football. The issue raised by President Barack Obama demands the attention of the next NCAA president, who needs to become the face of the campaign for some sort of playoff system. It won’t be easy, since BCS schools are happy with the system and the revenue involved. Lawmakers in Washington have tried to impart pressure on college presidents and conferences leaders, but they are powerless. And, in fact, the NCAA has no role in determining a system. But if the next NCAA president is vocal in supporting a playoff system, the anti-BCS crowd will have an important ally -- maybe even more influential than the guy sitting in the White House.

Chris Dufresne, Los Angeles Times

What should be the Condolences, first, to family and friends of Myles Brand, a decent man who did his best to put an erudite and compassionate face on an unwieldy bureaucracy, but there is an issue of urgency facing the next NCAA president: the eroding apparatus of rules enforcement. With news media budgets evaporating, the under-staffed NCAA can no longer rely heavily on newspapers to do its investigative work.  A major college football coach recently told me he fears a return to the Wild West days of the old Southwest Conference because there are so few people left to play watchdog. Now, you have to trust a school's own compliance department to monitor itself or rely on anonymous tipsters, often from rival schools. With no one minding the store, what's to stop cheaters from cheating? The NCAA, instead of finding ways to deny a liver-transplant quarterback his sixth year of athletic eligibility, needs a new enforcement plan that least gives the scant impression a cheating coach has a 10% slight chance of getting caught.

Photo: Myles Brand. Credit: Michael Conroy / AP.