Myles Brand Memories
Two Years Ago The NCAA President Asked For My Opinion
The sad passing of NCAA President Myles Brand, after battling pancreatic cancer, reminded me of a chance meeting...that told me what the man was all about.
It wasn't at a basketball game or a sports seminar. No, it was actually in the workout room of the Renaissance Center in Detroit.
We were both there for the Sweet 16, as the Badgers got ready to face Davidson. Before the game, I was doing my usual feeble attempt to get buff...when I looked over at the machine next to me, and had to do a double take.
It was the NCAA President himself. Yes, Myles Brand wasn't a robot...but it still seemed strange, seeing this powerful individual sweating and pumping iron just like me.
After making a short introduction of myself and who I worked for, his question startled me...and I'll always remember it to this day:
"What do you think of Ford Field as a basketball venue?"
I think the man was smart enough to know that there were some logistical nightmares with the setup, and since this was a trial run for the Final Four the following year (which was this year), he wanted things to be right.
To be politically correct, I said there were some positives...like good sight lines if you were at mid-court. But it gave me the open and honest forum to tell Mr. Brand that several Badger fans I talked to complained about being too far away from the action in the end zones. I witnessed the floor being taken apart, and re-assembled because of problems before the Wisconsin-Davidson game, so I mentioned that.
And I brought up the fact that since Ford Field is an old Montgomery Field warehouse, the underbelly is like the catacombs....and when we first arrived, three different officials told us three different ways to get to the media room...all of which, were wrong.
He politely nodded his head, and merely said "I've heard some things like this. This confirms it. Thanks for your honesty, and we'll work on it."
I never know I had that much power! But for a man who took some terrible heat for firing Bobby Knight at Indiana, he listened...and took the advice to heart.
With him at the helm, the NCAA was in good hands and on the right track. Now I worry about that. RIP, Myles....and thanks for listening to some TV hack from Milwaukee.
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