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October 22, 2021

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Was it difficult to run the Pentagon? Try to overhaul the NCAA.

Was it difficult to run the Pentagon?  Try to overhaul the NCAA.

Sports News

Robert Gates is an insider with a rebellious inclination and bluntness.

File – Robert Gates at a Senate committee hearing in Washington on May 14, 2009, when he was Secretary of Defense. The former Secretary of Defense now leads a committee that can recreate college sports – or, as is often the case with the NCAA, which rarely shows up after many meetings. (Ozir Mohammed / New York Times)

Robert Gates’s Washington State Home – closer to Canada than Seattle, adorned with a riding elkhead and in the possession of a temporary US spy master – trying to reshape college sports in less than six months An impossible place will be known.

But perhaps that was inevitable for Gates, the 77-year-old former defense minister and director of Central Intelligence. Finally, 19 years after becoming president of Texas A&M, he still struggles with college athletics, leaving the Pentagon in 2006 for a top job.

Gates said this week, “You know, God knows how to give rules to all mankind.” How to do it. “

Gates, an insider with a rebellious bow and bluntness, now has a chance to find out. Nominated this summer as chairman of the committee tasked with rewriting the NCAA constitution, Gates explained how about 1,100 member colleges, about half a million athletes and youth sports and universities. Can help save or condemn the long-standing influence about it. In billions of dollars

Gates’ 28-member committee is expected to present its recommendations by mid-November, and the full association may vote on them in January. A new sense of urgency for the NCAA is not just about making it its own. With the courts, Congress, state legislators and even conference commissioners bombing gender equality and banning profits from the reputation of college athletes, the association is under intense pressure to make changes that would make it more legal and It will stop political battles. Its power.

In an industry that measures growth over years, not months, many executives are skeptical that this effort will lead to fundamental change.

“We are all in the membership and are thinking about how to effectively address the issues that have been identified,” said Greg Sanke, commissioner of the Southeast Conference. Definition of problem or work for the committee.

“These issues can be overcome, but it makes you take a step back and wonder about the purpose,” Sanki said.

In an interview with The New York Times, Gates acknowledged how the NCAA should work before his appointment as chairman of a committee with a news organization. The constitution, which sets out the basic principles and structure of the association, consists of 43 pages, followed by hundreds of pages of the “operating bill”.

Gates said: “No one can do anything to dispel doubts about this effort unless it is put to work, except to come up with something fundamentally meaningful. And consider it important. ” “I mean, people’s pride is only based on the past.”

Gates, who says he spends many hours a day on NCAA affairs and is not being paid for his work, is far from the first person in Washington to end his career in college. Connected to sports.

Gates replaces Dennis McDonough, now a former military secretary. Prior to his second term as Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy was a member of the NCAA board that forced the association to cancel its national basketball tournaments in the early days of the corona virus epidemic. Many years ago, Condoleezza Rice, a former secretary of state and Gates’ partner in a consulting firm, led the College Basketball Commission, which led to the changes.

But since Theodore Roosevelt forced the creation of the NCAA in the early 1900s, perhaps no one in the world of Washington is in a better position than Gates to reshape college sports.

“I think if we don’t succeed in this important change in the association, it will be a real problem for the organization because it will show what a lot of people think, which is about reform and change.” Not worth it, myself, “Gates said.

The Supreme Court’s unanimous decision against the NCAA this summer is a signal event for many college sports officials, but Gates was concerned about the association’s future long before the ruling. ۔ When he was president of Texas A&M, he considered the NCAA an expert at hosting championship events and maintaining national eligibility standards for athletes, but he also saw a rule book that he coded in the tax code. Compared to It is very difficult to change. “

Asked which organizational chart he found more difficult – the Pentagon or the NCAA – he laughed and replied: “Well, they’re comparable – and incomprehensible. They’re AT&T wiring.” Look like diagrams.

Gates’ subordinates at Texas A&M focused on athletics, but not as a micromanager. He relied on athletic administrators for day-to-day decisions, but he regularly dined with RC Salocum, the famous football coach he eventually ousted. (Speaking from the time he was at the top of the defense department, Gates said he often observed that “Texas A&M football made me more stressed than any job.”)

Salocum, who spent 30 seasons as a coach at Texas A&M, still remembers Gates fondly. “I liked him, I thought he was smart and he’s not someone to try to interfere in our affairs,” Salukum said Thursday.

Jane Sutherland, who led the women’s golf program at Texas A&M for 15 seasons, recalled that Gates and his wife, Becky Gates, would invite the championship teams to their home for dinner. Like Salocum, Sutherland remembered Gates as president who set clear standards and then went out of his way.

“He was very clear with us about what his expectations were, and that was to win No. 1, a clean program and No. 2,” said Sutherland, now associate head coach in Nebraska. The Clean Program topped the list.

And while some university presidents deal with extremism in athletics – either with no interest or virtual obsession – the Big 12 commissioner at the Gates era at Texas A&M Kevin Weiberg (who will eventually move to the SEC) Gates remembered occupying a middle ground.

“I haven’t heard from them on issues that I would hear from some presidents, such as working,” he said.

Gates left A&M to lead the Pentagon for 4 1/2 years, leaving the government in 2011. He took the formal chancellorship of William & Mary, an undergraduate alumni, in early 2012 and joined the NCAA board last year.

Following the June 21 Supreme Court ruling, Gates insisted that the association could not stick to its usual strategy. The result was his committee, which some conference leaders predicted would make some changes this winter, then possibly face bigger problems later.

The panel has spent weeks collecting feedback from various parts of college sports, and Gates has been secretive about a blueprint for the redesign.

In the interview, he expressed concern about how the NCAA enforces its rules, a process that has been used for many years. He also indicated that he wanted policies to address certain types of scandals that were not punished by the NCAA, including one involving sexual assault in Baylor and another involving educational fraud in North Carolina.

However, these can be simple fixes. Gates said Division II and III, which receive less money and attention than Division I, appear to be largely satisfied with the current system, and are committed to securing their share of NCAA revenue. Are And although these two divisions control enough votes to move the new constitution forward, moving forward without significant support from Division I could paralyze the NCAA.

The Power Five Leagues اٹ the Atlantic Coast, the Big Ten, the Big 12, the PAC 12, and the Southeast Conference-which dominate the division, have been gaining momentum in recent years, and the industry has always been gossiping that Can they be separated?

Beyond a prominent NCAA, Gates said he saw a “need for structural change,” which could include further divisions.

“Let’s just assume – and now I’m going to go into a hypothesis, which I certainly shouldn’t have – but suppose you give each division the autonomy and authority to structure itself as it sees fit. Understands. ” “That way you can end up with more than three.”

He hoped that an approach that “has more freedom to reorganize itself in Division I” might calm the richest conferences.

One of the biggest threats to Gates’ efforts could be the immediate timeline. The NCAA recently spent nearly two years figuring out how college athletes can make money from their reputation, and it worked when it did so on a large scale because state laws challenging the association came hours later. Were about to take effect.

But Gates said he was concerned about the committee’s schedule. He suggested that he see it as a dose of blood with satisfaction and an indication of the gravity of the effort. When he led the intelligence agencies at the end of the Cold War, he noted that he had about two dozen task forces redesigning the country’s intelligence services.

None of them had a deadline of more than three months.