JB: Virginia Commonwealth made a magical run to the Final Four last season after arguably not deserving a spot in the NCAA Tournament. The Rams defeated teams from five different power conferences before losing to Butler, another mid-major school. Resources aside, how wide do you think the gap is in talent between the BCS schools and everyone else?
The talent gap is significant, but the runs in the NCAA Tournament by Gonzaga, Butler, VCU and the Valley’s six teams that have reached the Sweet Sixteen since 1999 have proven that teams from the so-called ‘mid-major’ programs that have veteran guards and a lot of senior and junior players can compete at the highest level. Individual talent doesn’t always prevail in the team game of basketball. That’s the beauty of the game and that is the reason that March Madness, the NCAA Tournament, is perhaps the greatest sports event in the United States.
JB: With the amount of recruiting violations and illegal activities that take place around college sports, the Valley has escaped with few problems. How do you ensure that the league stays clean with regards to recruiting players and team policies?
DE: The Missouri Valley and each of our institutions have full-time NCAA rules compliance personnel whose responsibilities include oversight of rules education and rules interpretation. Remaining in compliance with NCAA rules is a major emphasis for our athletics administrators. – we have been fortunate to have administrators and coaches who have integrity and who have conducted themselves in an exemplary fashion.
JB: Do you feel that college athletes should be paid for their performance? What are the positives and negatives to paying student-athletes?
DE: I’d personally hate to see college athletes ‘paid for play’ for many reasons. They are already paid, in one sense, in receiving scholarships – and it is difficult to quantify the value of an education and the opportunities that come to those who are privileged to have participated in college athletics. And there is additional funding provided for student-athletes to meet emergency situations or otherwise show financial need for basics like winter clothing. These are funds provided by the NCAA and administered through conferences.
Should we ever get into a situation where student-athletes are paid above the ‘cost of attendance,’ it will completely change the culture of college athletics, in my opinion.