As a frequent and harsh critic of the administration of Myles Brand at both the University of Indiana and the National Collegiate Athletic Association, I mourn his passing following his courageous battle with pancreatic cancer. While I disagreed with some of his decisions, there is no doubt that he was a strong and effective advocate of academic excellence. Brand is to be saluted for his leadership in improving the scholastic performance of athletics across the country.
I was a critic of his failure to terminate Indiana University basketball coach Bobby Knight sooner than he did, and I praised his ultimate action despite extensive pressure from many alumni against the firing. Winning clearly was not everything to Brand, and academic performance and proper behavior was an appropriate priority. It remains so today.
Additionally, I long opposed his decision against colleges and universities with Indian mascots such as Chief Illini at the University of Illinois. Brand took the easy political way out on a controversary brought on by two under-worked tenured Professors at Illinois who created the boogey-man theory that some mascots represented a racial bias against Native Americans. Many institutions bowed quickly, but many other schools spent millions of dollars in legal expenses to save their long honored mascots. All of that money could have been better spent far more effectively on student scholarships, or important research projects. Florida State University bought off the local Indian tribe to save their honored Seminole Indian mascot.
At the time of one’s passing their total body of work should be look upon and their contribution to the betterment of mankind, and in that case Brand made numerous significant contributions. My differences are now water over the dam and it is time to pay my respects to a man that did what he thought was best. I bow my head in prayer to Brand and his family at this time of sorrow. May he rest in peace.