NCAA President Myles Brand died Sept. 16 after a year-long battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 67.
Brand might be most remembered for firing Indiana University basketball coach Bob Knight while serving that school as president in 2000, but he later became hailed by academics and athletic administrators alike as a true reformer in his role as head of the NCAA.
Brand, the first former university president to run college sports’ largest governing
body, worked to change the perception that athletics supersede academics in college sports.
He broke the news that he had cancer in January at the NCAA convention and continued to run the organization’s day-to-day operations, despite undergoing treatment.
NCAA officials in late 2009 began a nationwide search for Brand’s replacement, with the hopes of having the hire made during the first quarter of 2010.
Brand gained national attention in May 2000 when he put Knight on a zero-tolerance policy after a former player alleged the successful but hot-tempered coach had choked him during a practice years earlier.
Four months after that announcement, freshman Kent Harvey accused Knight of grabbing him, and Brand did what many fans considered unthinkable—sacking the coach who won three national championships in Bloomington.
During a January 2001 speech at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Brand criticized the college sports “arms race,” saying school presidents faced challenges with celebrity coaches and suggested the emphasis on winning endangered the real mission of universities.
In October 2002, Brand was hired to lead the NCAA and used that position to move his agenda forward. After his term began in January 2003, Brand pushed for tougher eligibility standards for incoming freshmen and current students.
Brand also helped broker an unprecedented agreement to keep Indianapolis in the regular Final Four rotation through 2039 and got the NCAA involved in helping design the city’s new Lucas Oil Stadium.
Before taking over at Indiana, Brand had spent five years as University of Oregon president. He also held administrative posts at Ohio State University and led the philosophy departments at the University of Arizona and the University of Illinois-Chicago after starting his career as a professor at the University of Pittsburgh.•