Integrity has been one of the defining characteristics in the NCAA since 62 institutions banded together to create the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States on December 28, 1905. At that time, the IAAUS (which became the NCAA in 1910) was charged by President Theodore Roosevelt to reform college athletics.
For several years, the NCAA was a discussion group and rules-making body until a series of crises caused the organization to adopt the "Sanity Code," which established guidelines for recruiting and financial aid.
Over the next 50-plus years, the evolution of college athletics brought about a wide range of issues and legislation, all one way or another connected back to that core value of integrity.
On August 1, 1997, the NCAA implemented a change in its governance structure that provides greater autonomy for each division and more control by the presidents of member colleges and universities. This change ensured that a higher power would maintain a sense of order and equity among the membership.
I bring this up because there have been a number of cases reported in the media over the last few weeks that would cause the average person to question the integrity of the NCAA and its member institutions. I'm here to remind you of the old adage that a few bad apples, indeed, don't spoil the bunch.
There are 360,000 student-athletes in the United States who participate in NCAA competition. Santa Clara University has approximately 350 in our 17 intercollegiate sports. Of the huge number of students on the thousands of athletics teams at colleges across the country, only a select few don't subscribe to that basic ideal of integrity.
Unfortunately, you don't hear a lot about those.
Student-athletes like Santa Clara All-American Aly Wagner, the number one pick in the recent women's professional soccer league draft, represent the elite -- the best of the best. However, as incredibly talented, intelligent and gifted Aly is, she is clearly more aligned with the majority of student-athletes than those few you read about in the news.
At Santa Clara, we often talk about how proud we are of our student-athletes. How we have the highest graduation rate in the West Coast Conference. How we generally have among the most academic all-league honorees in our conference. And, we are able to win at a rate that is among the best as compared to schools our size.
We do this because we share the idea that integrity is a defining characteristic of an institution and its athletics program. I'm very proud of our student-athletes and our athletic department and I truly hope you are too.
I want to take this opportunity to applaud the job that the University of San Diego and it's athletic staff did in conducting the recent West Coast Conference Men's and Women's Basketball Tournament. The event has been held at USD's Jenny Craig Pavilion for the past three seasons and each year, regardless of the outcome of the competition, our fans, students and student-athletes have enjoyed a positive experience.
Next year, the tournament returns to the Leavey Center for the first time since Toso Pavilion was reconstructed in the spring of 2000. We are looking forward to hosting the tournament and having the opportunity to showcase our new basketball arena and its numerous first-class amenities.
When the Leavey Center was designed, hosting events such as the WCC Tournament and the various postseason championships in basketball and volleyball were taken into consideration. We worked hard to ensure the facility would handle the increased number of teams, fans, spirit groups, press and VIPs.
Our staff is really looking forward to showing our Bronco hospitality to the other seven schools in the WCC and putting on a first-class event. I hope you will make plans to join us March 4-8, 2004 here at the Leavey Center.