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NCAA head emphasizes academics

wire services
Published November 12, 2003

NEW ORLEANS - Too many universities run top sports programs like professional franchises - emphasizing winning and making money before the student-athletes' education - and that trend must end, NCAA president Myles Brand said.

In Division I football and basketball especially, there is too much pressure on coaches and players to win games first and worry about education second, which in the long run isolates both groups from the academic community, Brand said Tuesday.

"Intercollegiate athletics is not a freestanding, wholly autonomous enterprise that is located in close proximity to a university," he said. "To the degree that athletics programs look and behave like such freestanding enterprises, we have seen the type of drift toward the professional model that in the long run will diminish the value of the program to the university."

Brand spoke at a symposium hosted by Tulane. The meetings also will include debates about whether college football's BCS should be changed or scrapped.

The NCAA has no direct authority over how universities design playoff systems. But Brand said he hopes the NCAA can have an indirect effect by changing the culture of college sports to one that seeks a better balance between its business side and its educational mission.

Brand made clear he believes students are in college for degrees first, and sports were never meant to be anything other than an activity that enhances college life, as is the case with lower-profile sports like swimming or track.

"We have to recommit to education as the goal of intercollegiate athletics," Brand said.

Basketball

PRESEASON ALL-AMERICA: UConn's Diana Taurasi and Duke's Alana Beard were unanimous selections for the Associated Press women's team. The seniors' names appeared on all 47 ballots from the national media panel voting. Also chosen were Kansas State's Nicole Ohlde, Penn State's Kelly Mazzante and Stanford's Nicole Powell.

Beard, a 5-foot-11 guard who averaged 22 points, made the team for the third time, Taurasi, a 6-foot guard who averaged 17.9 points, for the second. Taurasi was the AP's player of the year last season and led UConn to its second consecutive national championship.

EXPANSION: Saint Louis, misplaced in a revamped Conference USA, agreed to join the Atlantic 10 for the 2005-06 season. The move comes a week after the Big East took five of C-USA's best men's basketball programs, including Louisville and Cincinnati. C-USA responded by adding five schools that have football. Saint Louis does not field a football team.

SOUTH FLORIDA: The men's basketball team is expected to sign at least two players today on the first day of the early signing period - 6-foot-2 combination guard Collin Dennis of Richland High near Fort Worth, Texas, and 6-10 power forward/center Solomon Jones of Daytona Beach Community College.

Baseball

PRESEASON TEAM: Florida outfielder Ben Harrison and first baseman/outfielder C.J. Smith of Tampa were named to the National Collegiate Baseball Writer'sAssociation All-America third team. Last year, Harrison was drafted in the fourth round by the Cleveland Indians (108th overall) and Smith in the sixth round by the Pittsburgh Pirates (165th overall), but both opted to return to the Gators.

- Staff writer Pete Young contributed to this report.

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