April 2, 2009

An interview with:

TUBBY SMITH

JIM HANEY

DALE CLAYTON

LARRY GIBSON

THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, this is the National Association of Basketball Coaches. I'll introduce the members of the podium. Tubby Smith, our outgoing president from the University of Minnesota; executive director Jim Haney; incoming president Dale Clayton, Carson Newman College; and vice president Larry Gibson of Northeastern State, Oklahoma.

 We are going to start by announcing the class of 2009 for the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. Mr. Haney will reveal the inductees. The ceremony will be held on Sunday, November 22nd, at the College Basketball Experience in the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

 JIM HANEY: Thanks, Rick. We have eight members of the class. As we've done the last three years, we are honoring two members are who are part of our founding class, those individuals who have been inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, who have roots in college basketball. Those two are Larry Bird and Earvin Magic Johnson.
We'll, again, be celebrating them, obviously the significance they had in collegiate basketball, dating back to the NCAA championship 30 years ago.

 We have two coaches that we will be inducting, Jud Heathcote from Michigan State, who, in fact, coached in that particular game with Larry Bird and Magic Johnson; then Gene Bartow, coached at Memphis State, led the Tigers to the NCAA Final Four and championship game against UCLA, a game that's renowned for Bill Walton making 21 of 22 shots. I think I have that number right. And then later at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, the great success he had there.

 Then two players, Wayman Tisdale, consensus All American, Big 8 Player of the Year for the University of Oklahoma. And then Travis "Machine Gun" Grant, from Kentucky State, at one time was the all time leading scorer with over 4,000 points scored during his career.

 Then we have two individuals that will be inducted as contributors to the game. One is Bill Wall, who was a basketball coach administrator, previous director of the NABC, but served as the executive director of USA Basketball from 1975 to 1992. In many ways, you can track and trace his handprints on the growth of the game globally as he extended opportunities to collegiate teams and coaches to travel internationally to play, to do clinics, and vice versa, bringing in national teams from around the world, including the USSR at the time.

 Then Walter Byers, long time executive director of the NCAA, who was so instrumental in the growth of the NCAA championship and the Final Four. So those eight individuals will be honored during our next Hall of Fame induction coming up in November.

 THE MODERATOR: This is the fourth class of inductees into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame, which is located in the College Basketball Experience in Kansas City.

 Any questions for the Hall of Fame inductees for 2009? If not, we'll move on to some association business. We will have some comments about pending issues for the NABC, then take questions.

 JIM HANEY: I'll lead off again. Tubby, you may want to add, and Dale and Larry as well.

 Probably one of the most important endeavors we've been engaged with over the last year is we have had coaches, as well as myself and Reggie from my staff, involved with the basketball academic enhancement group. We spent a great deal of time working with the presidents and others who are on that working group. As I think was alluded to in the previous conversations with the NCAA, on Monday we anticipate the conclusion of the work of that committee by making some final decisions in terms of what moves forward. It's been a really healthy and good process. So that's been a big part.

 We've also had discussions about the coach APR. Although the coach APR really was, again, mentioned by Myles and others, it is readily available. You can go find what the APR was for a particular institution for the length that the coach may have been at that school. It's gonna be provided in an easier format to obtain.

 I think there's sort of an immediate reaction of push back when you think about it, because I think the process of trying to encourage and assist and support student athletes getting their degree is not solely one that falls on the shoulders of the coach, but it involves a number of people that are beyond the coach, whether they be advisors or academic support, admissions, others, including athletic directors and presidents.

 So I think one of the things that, as a coach's organization we believe, we accept the fact, I probably should say, these coach APRs are available, but we're concerned and maybe encouraging that they be put in the property context.

 NCAA research shows that when there's a coaching change, that there's a drop in that particular institution's APR. So the coach coming in basically is inheriting a group that he didn't recruit, but is going to be held responsible for. So, again, I think context becomes important, that as it's used as a tool by athletic directors or presidents in evaluating a coach, that there is some understanding what those numbers reflect are impacted by events that may not have had anything to do with the coach that they're presently considering for a job, but he inherited some of those situations.

 I don't think we're afraid of the numbers from the standpoint that our coaches are committed to seeing their student athletes graduate. I think the basketball academic enhancement group has worked diligently to look at our sport and consider what are sort of the unique factors of our sport that would influence APR. Are there some things that could be done that would not undermine the mission of academic reform, but bolster and enhance the ability of our student athletes to meet those standards.

 I think we're encouraged by the progress that we've seen through the basketball enhancement group and pleased that we've been a part of the process.

 The last thing I wanted to mention relates to Myles Brand and the battle that he's going through with his cancer and just a retrospective of the significant role I think Myles has played over his tenure at the NCAA to date, and hopefully many years to come. But he really changed, in my opinion, the attitude of the interaction between coaches and the NCAA staff and the NCAA as a whole. I think he ushered in sort of a new era of friendliness and cooperation. I think that reflects in student athlete issues in terms of eligibility. I think it addresses a number of other areas where just the cooperation that exists between the NCAA staff, Myles, from our firsthand experience with us as a coach's organization, has been noteworthy.

 We're just pleased to be working with him. We honored him this morning. We have an award we give out each year called the Clifford Wells Appreciation Award. Because of his schedule, he was not available to attend the award show we have on Sunday evening. So at our board meeting today that he attended, it was our opportunity to give him that recognition that he so richly deserves.

 I think from the coaches in the room, he received a standing ovation, an ovation that was deeply rooted in affection and respect for who he is and what he represents.

 We don't always agree with everything that the board of directors are even staff decide, but we love the process. We enjoy being part of the process. We enjoy being heard. We think that we bring a perspective and a reality in terms of how things affect men's basketball and the student athletes that we coach that is important.
It's really been neat to work with him and continue to work with him even as we pray for him in his battle against this cancer.

 So with that, Tubby, anything you want to add?

 TUBBY SMITH: No. Just knowing that we're excited to be here in Detroit. I think should be an outstanding few days of basketball. A lot of work goes into it. We spend a lot of time in meetings, doing things, 'cause this is our convention. When I say 'ours,' the National Association of Basketball Coaches and coaches from around the country gather here not just to celebrate and watch basketball games, but to make decisions.

 Mr. Brand, Myles Brand, has been very, I guess, forthcoming. He's been a man of change. He's initiated a lot of change through the NCAA, allowing us access to them, and it's been very positive.

 Jim Haney and his staff do a tremendous job with our organization, and we appreciate everything he does. It's been a great year. When you're part of an organization for 29, 30 years, like I've been, and ascend to this position as president, outstanding president, we've had a good year. But it's always a challenge and there's always things that we need to address. We know there are things we have to continue to do and continue to work with the NCAA, with all our constituents and entities that make up this great game of basketball.

 But, again, being here at Ford Field, this is the greatest show on earth, the Final Four. Certainly want to wish Villanova, Connecticut, the teams that are involved here, North Carolina and Michigan State, the best. It's about the players. They perform to their maximum potential and they enjoy themselves.

 But, again, we had a good meeting this morning. Again, we will continue to meet with the rest of our colleagues tomorrow, with all of the coaches.

 I heard a couple of the presidents talking about the diversity that's in college sports, especially college basketball, with over 350 plus or 340 plus Division I teams now. Everyone has an agenda. So it's a balancing act, not just for NCAA, but for our board, for the NABC board.

 We have a great group of men, people that work very diligently to try to make this the best. And we are all about getting our players, making sure they get an education and get a degree. We're very proud of the things that we stand for and the mission that we have as college coaches.

 DALE CLAYTON: I just have one comment, and that's about you, the press, the important role that you play in getting the story out, because there are many people who only know about college basketball what you write. The fact that you're getting the information from Dr.
Brand and from the NABC so that you can add some balance and make sure that people understand really what's going on in college basketball.
Especially as it relates to academic reform, because that's one of the most important things that's happening now.

 In reality, we thank you and really depend on you helping to get the story out so the people really know what's going on.

 THE MODERATOR: Questions.

 Q. Coach Smith, a few minutes ago, up there a university president used the words 'mind boggling 'and 'eye popping' when asked about a contract given to a coach yesterday. Is there any way to defend a basketball coach making that much money?

 TUBBY SMITH: Yes. It's a free market. We live in a society that, whatever the market brings, again, each school is different. Every college president, every board of regents, trustees, whatever they emphasize, and I can tell you they love their basketball in Kentucky, it's something special.

 As I said before, I think you see that in all facets of our society.
And certainly as long as it's transparent, people know what it's about, media, fans, I see no reason why. He's well compensated, and we certainly want to wish him the best. I don't have any problems with it.

 Q. Do any of the others have problems with it?

 DALE CLAYTON: I'm not getting it. No, I'm just teasing (laughter).

 LARRY GIBSON: I think it's worth noting that Dale and I both represent Division II institutions. The vast majority of college coaches across the United States do not make that kind of money, and we're in this as educators and for our love of the game, the values that the game has imparted to us and we can pass along to the young men that we coach.

 I think it is what Tubby said, a free market. I don't begrudge Coach Calipari or anybody else the amount of money they make. I think it's up to those institutions.

 But if you look at the thousands of colleges and universities across the country, the majority of those basketball coaches do not make that kind of money, and they still are passionate about the job that they do and they love the job that they do.

 TUBBY SMITH: Most coaches got in this business because we love teaching, we love being around young people. I taught high school. My goal was to be a high school teacher and coach. I was very fortunate to get this opportunity to coach college basketball, have an influence, have an impact. I know that's what the folks at Minnesota, my president, expects us to represent the mission of that university.

 Certainly we want to compete at all levels and all facets at the university, whether it's in the medical field, the music field, or whatever, and in athletics as well.

 So competition and the drive to be the best is what competition is what it's all about.

 Q. I understand the free market. We all understand how that works.
But when you look at the money, the arms race, all these things going on, doesn't part of you wish that it were not like that? What would be a better way? What would you like to see happen?

 TUBBY SMITH: No, no part of me begrudging him. I'm just as happy as I can be for him. I think certainly I said from the beginning, as long as we keep in mind why we're in the business, to help young people, to educate young people, give them guide. We love the game of basketball.
We love people. And, by the way, universities are willing to pay you to do this job. That's the beauty of it, of being in athletics, or being the best at what you do.

 Certainly coaches that ascend to this level, whether it's Division II, Division III, NAI, college, high school, some of the most influential people in my life have been coaches, teachers. So I think that's the impact that coaches have just can't be I guess you can't put it in terms of monetary value. I don't think you can. That's why we all have that's why a lot of people have problems getting their arms around it, understanding it.

 JIM HANEY: In balance to John Calipari's situation, over the last four years, more than 50% of the jobs in Division I have turned over.
We see a lot about the significance of a contract at Kentucky, this is not a job that you have longevity. There are exceptions. But with these high dollars comes high expectation. And the level of patience that fans and others have to see the program succeed at a level they perceive as where there team should be is also short.

 I mean, you know, in the balance of how, you know, these salaries come about, you know, there's an expectation, you know, that not just John, but the coaches who are drawing these kind of significant salaries, you know, that there are going to be fans in the seats, you know. The arena's gonna be filled, that there's gonna be excitement about the program, that they're gonna not only make the NCAA tournament, but that they're going to go deep into the championship and compete to get to the Final Four. There are very real challenges, expectations and realities that they must deal with, as well, and that goes with the territory.

 If you're going to get paid those kind of dollars, the expectation is going to be that you're there's a level of performance we expect because we're paying you these kind of dollars.

 It's not like John in his situation can go in and say, Well, I think we'll get there in seven years. He's got some realities he's going to have to deal with, just as every coach does.

 I just wanted to try to again, we're so focused, and understandably so in this economy, that an institution would be willing to pay a coach that amount of money, that sort of stands out. We know there's unemployment issues. We all have sensitivity and empathy for that.
But, again, I just want to draw the balance, this year in the last four years, on average, there have been 50 coaching changes each year.
Whether we get to that level this year remains to be seen. But that's what it was the previous four years.

 And, so, I mean, you get that kind of turnover, you know, and these are guys generally who aren't getting to the NCAA tournament, getting to the Sweet 16. These are guys who are just trying to get to the tournament. And they've got two or three years, maybe four years, to lead their teams to the NCAA tournament or there's going to be a change in the head coach.

 Again, I'm just trying to bring balance to the whole perception. Not everybody's getting salaries like the one that John is receiving at the University of Kentucky.

 DALE CLAYTON: If I can say maybe one other comment about that.

 In most situations, the coaches that receive those types of salaries are deemed by the institutions to have the ability at some point in time to bring in more than what they're making.

 If you look across the country, most of the coaches being paid those salaries are doing just that. The schools are actually getting their money's worth. If you talk about Coach Saban at Alabama, what's happened with Alabama football. They had over 90,000 people come to a spring football game.

 The only tragedy that I see in that is the perception that it gives the general public, which is not a good perception. The fact that their perception becomes their reality. Because they do start to feel that that's commonplace, when we up here know that it's a long way from commonplace.

 And also because of the publicity that surrounds it, we sometimes lose sight. There are a lot of other areas where people are making significant dollars. But in most cases in college athletics, in the few cases where that happens, if you go back and look, you will see that the investment has been more than worth it.

 I would ask someone, for example, if you can invest $5 million and make $34 million, wouldn't you do it? And I know very few people who would say no. That's what we're faced with. People are making an investment, and they're getting a great return on their dollar.

 In the end, it becomes beneficial because it now helps the rest of the programs at that university, the programs that we don't hear very much about that also have to be funded. But they're funded from dollars that were generated in large part from those individuals who commanded those high salaries. That's what Paul Harvey would call 'The rest of the story.'

 Q. What about termination clauses, that if it doesn't work out, the university is on the hook in that contract? They're on hook for $3 million a year for the remainder of the contract. Don't you understand why that would make some people think, Wow, that's a little crazy?

 JIM HANEY: I think there are clearly termination clauses in contracts. There are also clauses in contracts that if the coach leaves, the coach has to pay X number of dollars to be free to leave.
So there's two sides to that.

 But, again, you know, picking up a little bit on what Dale said. If you're asking somebody to leave a position that he's been highly successful at, and for some reason you've made a determination that, We've got to have this person, then, you know, you've got to decide what you're willing to, you know, do to, uhm, to turn the head of the person you're seeking.

 You know, if the coach is successful at his institution trying to get away from John in particular here if the coach is successful at a particular institution, somebody comes and wants to attract him away, the institution in which he's successful, he has some security because he's winning, and he's winning on a regular basis. So, you know, there's some risk that the coach, you know, gives up, if he's gonna start again.

 So I don't think it's unusual that the coach wouldn't be looking for some security, that if for some reason things don't work out, you know, or the institution the president of the institution changed, the athletic director changes, something changes, they're not fond of the new coach as the previous regime was, you know. So I think it's natural the coach would want some security to know, I'm leaving a place where I have many years left because I've built something special. So in that event not likely, but in that event that somebody comes along and says, We don't like the way you're doing this, and you're not succeeding to the level we want, we're going to fire you, that you have some level of security.

 But, again, we've seen cases where coaches football and basketball move, but tied to their move is the fact that they've got to pay millions of dollars to the institution from which they're leaving to be able to go to another institution.

 So, again, there are these contracts that have provisions in them both ways. And generally, if there's an expensive buyout, then in all likelihood, if the coach leaves because he wants to do something else, he also has to pay. I haven't seen the contract that seems to be on everyone's mind, but I would anticipate that there's something he would have to pay if he wants to leave.

 Q. It's not $3 million a year.

 Coach Smith, being a coach yourself, could you kind of give me your thoughts on the situation in Kentucky in terms of with a big contract like that, if the coach will be able to live up to the high expectations or if they'll be kind of too high to meet, maybe like Alex Rodriguez in New York?

 TUBBY SMITH: I can't answer that. It's all in a lot of things have to come to play. Obviously, you have to have good athletes and good players. In particular, Kentucky has been a place that's been able to attract some pretty good athletes. I know the fans there will be supportive. Obviously they've invested a lot, the administration, in that program. So I think every opportunity will be and I think they've got the right guy to lead them to success, to where they want to go, whatever that is.

 THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much.