Thursday, September 17, 2009
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NCAA president Myles Brand dies from cancer at 67

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[September 17, 2009]  INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Firing Bob Knight gave Myles Brand the pulpit to critique college athletics.

Eventually, it helped him change the NCAA, too.

Brand, the first university president to lead college sports' largest governing body, died Wednesday at his Indianapolis home after a lengthy battle against pancreatic cancer. He was 67. It is the first time the NCAA's chief executive has died in office.

"Myles brought his academic experience in philosophy and higher education to the NCAA and effectively challenged the athletics community to demonstrate accountability for the educational values we espouse," NCAA vice president David Berst said.

Whether it was Brand's push for diversity in the college coaching ranks, the desire to put academic progress and graduation rates ahead of wins and losses or his tough stance on the hotheaded and once untouchable Knight, Brand never backed away from challenging the status quo.


That combination forced the Indiana University president onto the national stage in May 2000. It was then Brand announced he was imposing a zero-tolerance policy on Knight following a university investigation into allegations the coach had choked a former player during practice years earlier.

When freshman Kent Harvey accused Knight of grabbing him four months later, Brand responded the way he had promised but that most never imagined he would -- firing the revered coach with three national championships.

The decision set off protests in front of Assembly Hall, the Hoosiers home court, and in front of Brand's home where some students hanged him in effigy. Fans debated whether Brand should be fired, and basketball players threatened to quit before the season started.

"That was a very difficult time for Myles, and I know he worked extremely hard to resolve those matters in a very, very different way," longtime Indiana administrator Terry Clapacs said in June. "The way it ended up was not the way he wanted it to end."

Knight later moved to Texas Tech where he became the career victories leader in Division I men's basketball before stepping aside in favor of his son, Pat Knight, in February 2008. Texas Tech spokesman Randy Farley said Bob Knight left Lubbock on Tuesday and wouldn't be back until next month.

But Brand's decision also opened the eyes of a new constituency.

During a January 2001 speech at the National Press Club in Washington, Brand talked about the predicament college presidents faced with "celebrity" coaches and suggested the emphasis on winning championships endangered the real mission of universities -- education. He continued speaking to groups about the problems with college sports and in October 2002, the NCAA hired Brand as Cedric Dempsey's replacement.

Brand wasted no time in making changes.

He immediately called for tougher eligibility standards for incoming freshman and current students and led the move for two new academic measurements, the Academic Progress Report and the Graduation Success Rate, real-time statistics of how athletes perform in the classroom that have become common terms around the nation's athletic departments.

"He was able to speak with anyone in any circle, head coaches to faculty athletic reps to any one of the number of committees with the NCAA with the unique position that he had been in their chair, been in their position and heard their voice, heard their concerns," NCAA senior vice president Greg Shaheen said.

Early critics contended Brand didn't know enough about sports to run the NCAA.

But those fears quickly subsided. Many coaches and the coaching associations wound up thanking Brand for listening to their concerns more than his predecessors.

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"Myles brought an honest and clear vision to the NCAA that inspired everyone who came in contact with him," said Grant Teaff, executive director of the American Football Coaches Association. "Myles listened, explained his position and acted. It was evident it was his goal to make every aspect of the NCAA better."

In January, Brand announced he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and that his long-term prognosis was not good. He continued working while undergoing treatment, though he did reduce his public appearances. Brand skipped awards presentations in Orlando, Fla., and San Antonio this summer before accepting an award in Indy in late June.

The NCAA has not yet announced who will replace Brand or when a search for his successor might begin.

Two of the leading candidates are believed to be Georgia president Michael Adams and University of Hartford president Walter Harrison, who have served as prominent NCAA committee chairmen in recent years. Also expected to contend is NCAA executive vice president Bernard Franklin.

"I believe being the first university president to be the head of the NCAA set a different tone and a different standard for the NCAA that has been well received by faculty and administrators, both in and out of intercollegiate athletics," Minnesota athletic director Joel Maturi said.

Before taking over at Indiana, Brand spent five years as president at the University of Oregon. He also held administrative posts at Ohio State and led the philosophy departments at the University of Arizona and Illinois-Chicago after starting his career as a professor at the University of Pittsburgh.

Brand earned his bachelor's degree in philosophy at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., in 1964 and received a doctorate in philosophy at the University of Rochester in 1967. He is survived by his wife and a son.

[Associated Press; By MICHAEL MAROT]

Associated Press writers Janie McCauley in San Francisco; Betsy Blaney in Lubbock, Texas; Dave Skretta in New York; Dorie Turner in Atlanta; and Jon Krawczysnki in Minneapolis contributed to this report.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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