WASHINGTON -- I am rather sorry that Myles Brand has passed on to his reward. Brand is the fellow who, as president of Indiana University, gained enormous respect among liberals for ruining the basketball program of that basketball-loving university in that basketball-loving state. He fired basketball coach Bob Knight, one of the sport's greatest coaches, for a minor altercation that was an obvious setup. Knight had donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the institution and overseen an athletic program that insisted on academic seriousness from its players, as well as competitiveness. Under Knight, IU won three NCAA championships and 11 conference championships. The basketball program has yet to recover, and I very much doubt that its players match the academic records of Knight's teams.
Admittedly, the hot-tempered Knight was controversial. He got into rows with coaches, journalists, players, referees, spectators -- actually, anyone who was available. Yet by the time Brand fired him, Knight had taken heed of those who admonished him to manage his temper better and was a much more irenic citizen. Call him a recovering altercationist. Perhaps Knight had enrolled in Altercationists Anonymous. His forced departure ignited angry student-body demonstrations, disrupting the university and causing Brand to seek police protection.
A couple of years later, Brand became president of the NCAA, where he created still more feuding. Under his leadership, the NCAA attempted to ban the use of American Indian names as school nicknames or mascots. The ensuing wrangling continues to this day. By edict of the NCAA Executive Committee, NCAA-sanctioned championships were not to be held on campuses whose mascots or nicknames derived from some aspect of American Indian heritage. Thus, William & Mary should not be known as the Indians and settled for the nickname the Tribe. Arkansas State should not be known as the Indians and changed its nickname to Red Wolves -- People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals be damned. The University of Illinois' logo until recently showed the stern countenance of an Indian chieftain in full headdress, representing its nickname, the Fighting Illini -- the Illini being a local Indian tribe. Somehow the university was allowed to keep the nickname, but it had to cashier the handsome logo for a large orange "I" that looks like an industrial caution sign.
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