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NCAA president Brand has pancreatic cancer

Saturday, January 17, 2009


AP Sports Writer

OXON HILL, Md. -- NCAA president Myles Brand disclosed Saturday he has pancreatic cancer with a long-term prognosis that is "not good," shocking a convention center full of delegates who had spent the week working on more of his reform-minded ideas.

The 66-year-old Brand, who has led the governing body of college sports since 2003, announced his condition during a teleconference with the NCAA executive committee and through a written statement on the last day of the organization's convention, which he was unable to attend.

"I have pancreatic cancer," the statement said. "The long-term prognosis is not good. I am currently undergoing chemotherapy, and I am receiving excellent care. I will know in the next several months the success of this treatment."

Brand concluded his statement by thanking supporters who had wished him well since the NCAA announced last week that he was sick. The nature of the illness wasn't given at the time, but executive committee chairman Michael Adams said Brand was diagnosed early this month and the seriousness of the condition was known only in the last few days.

Brand, who initially had hoped to travel to the convention for the final day of meetings, began receiving chemotherapy treatments early in the week. Vice president Wally Renfro delivered the state-of-the-NCAA speech in Brand's place Thursday.

"We're all stunned and challenged by this," Adams said.

Adams said there are no plans to have Brand relinquish any duties, although other executives are expected to assume more responsibilities. There are also no immediate plans to search for a successor.

"Myles is the president. He is in charge," said Adams, sitting in a near-vacant conference room after the convention's final meeting. "He has given some direction to the staff as recently as about an hour ago. Happily the treatments are such that right now he is able and desirous of continuing to lead the organization."

"He's functioning, and I want to believe he's going to get well," Adams added, "so I've not moved beyond that. I just hope and pray that he does."

Brand, who was president of Indiana University from 1994 to 2002, is perhaps best known for his dismissal of basketball coach Bob Knight in 2000 for violating a "zero-tolerance" policy for misbehavior. Knight, who led Indiana to three national championships in 27 years, was fired after grabbing the arm of a student who greeted him by his last name.

Knight went on to coach at Texas Tech and retired last season with 902 victories, the most by a Division I men's coach.

Brand, meanwhile, went on to establish a legacy of academic comprehensive reform at the NCAA. In the last five years, university presidents have regained a stronger control of athletic programs, and the introduction of the Academic Progress Report has created a scorecard that punishes teams whose athletes consistently fail to keep up in the classroom.

"He's exemplified what the (reform-oriented) Knight Commission called for 20 years ago," Adams said, "and that was presidential control. That was an issue at the time he was hired. That's not even a debated issue today. And he changed the whole conversation from eligibility to graduation. We don't sit around here talking about remaining eligible anymore; we talk about what we need to do to help student-athletes prepare for life, and I think he deserves most of the credit for changing that conversation."

Despite such work, the episode many associate with Brand is the dismissal of the popular coach at Indiana nine years ago. The man who worked closest with Brand during that time, former athletic director Clarence Doninger, said Saturday it was unfair to tag Brand as the man who fired Knight.

"It's part of his life's work, but it's only part of it," added new Indiana AD Fred Glass, who worked with Brand at Indiana Sports Corp. "Obviously, our prayers and best wishes are with him. If anybody can beat it, Myles can."

Brand graduated with a degree in philosophy from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1964. He served as president at the University of Oregon from 1989 to 1994 before moving to Indiana.

AP Sports Writer Michael Marot in Bloomington, Ind., contributed to this report.

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