On the eve of the Final Four, the NCAA's new president, Mark Emmert gave a powerful interview with USA Today in which he unequivocally rejected the notion that college athletes should receive a salary or any kind of stipend. Emmert, who became NCAA president last November after previously being the president of the University of Washington, called it "grossly unacceptable and inappropriate to pay players." On the other side, the article also quotes Duke's Nolan Smith and UNC's Roy Williams indicating that they would like to see a relaxation of the rules.
Emmert is clearly a traditionalist when it comes to the NCAA's strict prohibition against athletes receiving compensation, but it's another action by Emmert demonstrating his strict attitude to tradition that Duke's fans and detractors will be chattering about extensively in the months and perhaps years ahead.
Emmert, after years of controversy and protests by the anti-Duke crowd, has reversed Duke's decision from way back in the mid-90's to credit the wins/losses of games Coach K missed during the 1994-95 season to Pete Gaudet. Just to recap the history, after Duke went 9-3, Krzyzewski was forced to miss the remainder of the season because of back surgery and resulting physical exhaustion. His top assistant, Pete Gaudet, then ran the team, which suffered a disastrous 4-15 record under his command.
Because Krzyzewski stayed completely away from the team during his recuperation, Duke officials felt it was appropriate to assign that record to Gaudet. That decision, however, ran contrary to tradition and common practice where the head coach is assigned the record, no matter that illness may have caused him to miss games. Of course, that led to non-stop squawking by fans of other schools about how Duke was "hiding" loses that should be on Krzyzewski's record.
Year in and year out since then, the NCAA has received petitions to reverse Duke's actions, and it had become an annual headache for the NCAA to respond. To put an end to the bickering, Emmert, with Duke's acquiescence, has now taken the traditional approach and reversed Duke's decision, thereby crediting Coach K with four additional wins and 15 additional losses. Krzyzewski's record now moves from 900-283 to 904-298.
What that means is that Coach K is now the undisputed winningest coach in Division I Men's Basketball, surpassing his mentor by two games. As Emmert commented, "We believe this is a fair outcome. We have acknowledged that the criticism was correct and have reaffirmed our standards that a head coach is responsible for all of his team's wins and losses. At the same time, we are very pleased to recognize the lifetime of achievement of Mike Krzyzewski, a man who has brought incredible honor and dignity to the game, both on the collegiate and Olympic levels, with unparalleled success. It's the ultimate win/win decision."
Duke officials have already said that Emmert will attend the upcoming basketball banquet to honor Krzyzewski as the all-time winningest coach and present him with a plaque from the NCAA. Duke will also have an extensive celebration of Coach K's achievement early in the season.
We could not be happier. Congratulations, Coach!
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