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October 13, 2003 - Knight Commission Lauds Division I Basketball Coaches' Meeting Urges Adoption of Ethical Standards and a Focus on Coaches as Educators

MIAMI, Fla. (Oct. 13, 2003) - The incoming members of the reconstituted Knight Foundation Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics have commended an upcoming meeting this week of the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) called to address the recent series of scandals involving men's college basketball coaches.

The association is convening a mandatory meeting Wednesday (Oct. 15) of all NCAA Division I men's basketball coaches in Chicago. The association will address ethical conduct, integrity and accountability.

In a statement today, the incoming members of the reconstituted Knight Commission supported the association's efforts. The statement:

"The Knight Commission has long advocated presidential control of college sports and continues to do so. Just as presidents must assume overall responsibility for athletics programs, college coaches, as the central figures in athletes' day-to-day experiences, have a critical role to play. Coaches are closest to the athletes and have the most influence on the quality of their collegiate experiences.

"The conduct recently exhibited by coaches has seriously eroded the credibility of the profession. Immediate action is essential. To that end, the Knight Commission urges the NABC to adopt specific standards of ethical conduct and to establish the power of discipline similar to other professional associations.

"The commission also urges the NABC, in conjunction with the higher education community, to enhance the professional development of coaches beyond game strategy and X's and O's. Such programs should focus on the role of athletics in higher education, educational values, academic responsibilities and student development. Further, if the coach-as-educator model is to become a reality, consideration must be given to the appropriate educational background and training of those who wish to become coaches.

"Finally, coaches should be freed from being judged largely by their wins and losses so that the intellectual, social and physical development and growth of the athletes they coach can be their primary concern. Only when coaches can focus less on winning, providing entertainment and generating revenue and more on the educational experience sports offer, can college sports be fully reconnected to higher education and coaches be responsive to the mission of the college or university of which they are a part."

The Knight Commission will meet again Nov. 24 in Washington, D.C., to continue to press for the reform of intercollegiate athletics. The commission issued three seminal reports in the early 1990s that led to the adoption of a reform agenda by the National Collegiate Athletic Association. A follow-up report in 2001, "A Call to Action," continued the effort to correct the most glaring problems in college sports today: low graduation rates, academic transgressions, a financial arms race, and ever-growing commercialization.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation promotes excellence in journalism worldwide and invests in the vitality of 26 U.S. communities.