Spanier Speculated to Succeed NCAA President Brand
Myles Brand, the fourth president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, died Wednesday afternoon after nine months of fighting pancreatic cancer. Since his hiring in 2002, Brand had attempted to reform the NCAA to create balance between athletics and education. According to some sources, including USA Today, continuing his work could be a task left up to Penn State University President Graham Spanier:
Speculation on a potential successor falls on Adams and includes a number of university presidents and chancellors: Graham Spanier of Penn State, Mary Sue Coleman of Michigan and Walt Harrison of Hartford, who has been instrumental in drawing up the series of academic measures. [Executive Vice President Bernard] Franklin also has been mentioned [bold emphasis added].
This would be quite the step up for Spanier. The NCAA has a membership of 1,281 institutions and a budget of $5.64 Billion. Just how exactly would our (soon to be ex?) University President go about the job? Deadspin had an interesting take on the late Brand’s tenure as NCAA President:
“College sports is not a business,” Brand once claimed, and somehow he didn’t get laughed out of the room. He was a slumming academic, and he could get away with a certain amount of willful naivete. But even so, it was a staggering claim to make — especially for the president of an organization to which CBS had paid $6 billion for the rights to its men’s basketball tournament and which slaps a corporate sticker on every surface in the room. Even the ladder that players climb to snip down the nets is sponsored. And all the while, the athletes, on whose backs all this fabulous money is made, are told time and again, by people like Brand, of the simple grace in playing for nothing but dear old Alma Mater. That’s the NCAA’s sustaining self-mythology, and Brand believed in it to the hilt.
If Spanier’s a magician first, and a washboard player second, he’s undoubtedly a businessman third. Could his potential appointment as NCAA President signal a trend toward a more realistic view of the college experience for aspiring pro athletes?
Of course, all of this is speculation – our University President has claimed to be unaware of the possibility altogether. This is the second time in less than a year that Spanier has been named as a possible candidate for a high-profile gig. So what should we take from this? Hopefully that G-Span is held in high regard within his field, not that he’d like to leave his post in Happy Valley. Either way, his name popping up on these candidate lists is great exposure for Penn State.
[Photo Courtesy of Pennlive.com]