If you want to read something fascinating today, read the New York Times’ obituary of former NCAA head Walter Byers.
The inventor of the term “student-athlete” came to see collegiate athletics in a different light.
For much of his tenure, Mr. Byers was an ardent advocate of the student-athlete concept and of the necessity to maintain the strict amateur status of college athletes; he consistently came to the defense of the N.C.A.A. enforcement division, whose pursuit of athletes committing minor offenses against arcane N.C.A.A. regulations often drew criticism. But as his tenure grew closer to its end, he viewed the college sports landscape with increasing cynicism, recognizing, he said, that the high stakes of the sports business had led to rampant corruption, made the notion of amateurism quaint and outdated and the N.C.A.A.’s insistence on maintaining it hypocritical.
In 1984 he told The A.P. that he believed that 30 percent of big-time college athletic programs were cheating and that he despaired of bringing the problem under control. He suggested the creation of an “open division” within the N.C.A.A., within which colleges could opt to operate their sports teams as semiprofessional programs.
“I don’t think the fabric of higher education as we believe in it and would like to see it function in this country can stand the strain of big-time intercollegiate athletics and maintain its integrity,” he said in a subsequent interview with Sports Illustrated, adding: “I’m gradually coming to the conclusion that there has to be a major rearrangement on the part of the institutions of higher learning as to what they want to do with their athletic programs. I think there’s an inherent conflict that has to be resolved. I’m not prepared to go into how an open division would work. But we’re in a situation where we, the colleges, say it’s improper for athletes to get, for example, a new car. Well, is that morally wrong? Or is it wrong because we say it’s wrong?”
Shit, no wonder the NCAA doesn’t want to talk about him now.
4 responses to ““The N.C.A.A. did not respond to requests for a statement about Mr. Byers.””
Unfortunately, there are too many Michael Adams clones in the Ivory Towers of Academia. They determine what is right and wrong based on Ego and Self Service from moment to moment. All on the backs of others and take an unfair share. Such is the way of Humanity when intellect and emotion are enabled by power and wealth. Morality becomes a convenience to the unprincipled, especially the upper echelon Politician or Academic be he/she liberal or conservative. Cases in point: NCAA cartel of U.S. College Presidents; World Olympics Committees; & FIFA leadership.
As Kurt V. Said “So it goes.”
An interesting juxtaposition to the FIFA scandal. The (former) leader of an increasingly corrupt sports organization actually speaking out against it. A shame no one at headquarters seems willing to listen.
Glad you brought up the FIFA scandal. IMHO the NCAA couldn’t stand a serious investigation. Nor could the SEC. When you have this much money floating around the temptation is too great.
No wonder the President’s got rid of him. The “Truth Tellers” are always the first to go.