Men's Final Four Notebook: Brand says BCA tops Rooney Rule

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ATLANTA -- The NCAA has a better mechanism than the NFL's Rooney Rule for ensuring head coaching opportunities for African-Americans, according to NCAA President Myles Brand.

"The reason the college football community doesn't need the Rooney Rule is it has something in place, frankly, that's more powerful than the Rooney Rule, and that's public exposure through the Black Coaches Association and its report card," Brand said yesterday in a wide-ranging news conference in advance of the Final Four.

"In fact, 30 percent of the final candidates last year for Division I-A football jobs were African-American and were interviewed. African-Americans were on 76 percent of the short lists, in part because there is a process of evaluation as part of the BCA. That seems to be working.

"I believe it's more powerful and more effective than the Rooney Rule. Rather than a fine, which we have no ability to levy, our members would not give us that permission, we have the public exposure part. To give us that transparency, the BCA really has been effective."

The NCAA would have a hard time demonstrating that effectiveness at this particular juncture.

The Rooneys, who hired Mike Tomlin to replace Bill Cowher two months ago, brought the 32-team league's number of African-American head coaches to six. The NCAA has six Division I-A African-American coaches as well, but among 119 such positions.

No push for I-A football playoff

Brand said he felt no particular groundswell for a Division I-A football playoff, even though the end of the college basketball season has been so successful in part because of the tournament format.

University of Florida president Bernie Machen has been working on a proposal for a football playoff.

"I haven't seen it," Brand said, "I haven't talked to President Machen about it. The reason we don't have a Division I playoff right now is because the presidents don't want a Division I playoff. If they change their minds, and President Machen may be successful in changing their minds, and the [various conference] commissioners serve at the pleasure of the presidents, we may well move in that direction.

"If we do, I'm sure the NCAA will be of whatever assistance is asked of us. At the present time, the presidents want to emphasize the regular season. They don't see IA football as a tournament sport so much as a sport focused on the regular season."

Brand wouldn't speculate on what kind of mechanism might eventually be enacted, if any.

"I couldn't imagine an NFL-type tournament emerging there, but, if they do want a small tournament, we'd be happy to work with them, but that's really their decision. At least right now, I don't see a groundswell."

Odd numbers

What do the basketball teams at Duquesne, Robert Morris, and St. Francis (Pa.) have in common, beyond their Western Pennsylvania proximity? They all shot better from the free-throw line this season than any team in the Final Four.

The figures:

Robert Morris 75.8 percent, Duquesne 74.3 percent, St. Francis 72.9 percent, Georgetown 71.5 percent, Ohio State 70.4 percent, Florida 68.8 percent, UCLA 66.2 percent.

Boeheim disagrees with Knight

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, speaking yesterday at the National Association of Basketball Coaches conference, disagreed with Bobby Knight's position that the NBA rule which forces some players into the colleges for one year makes a charade of the college game's academic aspect.

"I don't like to disagree with coach Knight and I don't in most situations because I think he's normally right," Boeheim said, "This time, I don't think he's right. We're talking about six or eight kids out of 3,000 college players. I think we all would have rather had a two-year period where kids would come in.

"I think one year is better than no years because I think some of those six or eight kids will come in and they'll find out they're not really ready [for the NBA], that they'll need more time in college. So it will benefit them, it will benefit the college programs, and it will benefit the NBA because they won't be in the NBA with no place to go.

"The academic part, a lot of people leave college early. Bill Gates left early. I don't think it affected Harvard's reputation too much. There [are] 35,000 students at some schools where guys might leave early. I don't think one guy's going to have an effect on the academic standing of that school."

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