SCARPINO: We’re on the record, and once again I’d like to thank you very much for being kind enough to sit with me during a really busy season for the president of the NCAA, and for the record I’d again like to ask your permission to record this interview, to transcribe the recording and to place the recording and the transcription in the IUPUI Special Collections and Archives for the use of the patrons.
BRAND: Yes, I agree.
SCARPINO: Okay. The last time we talked about your career from high school through your presidency of the University of Oregon with a focus on leadership, and I asked you as a part of that interview the standard questions that we ask everyone that we interview through the Tobias Center. What I’d like to do today is finish by asking you a couple of questions related to your service at the University of Oregon and then talk to you about your presidency of Indiana University and of the NCAA.
BRAND: That would be fine.
SCARPINO: So, we discussed the fact that at the University of Oregon you had faced some extraordinarily difficult budget decisions which we talked about last time and so I have a couple of questions related to Oregon. According to the research that I did, you were involved in firing Oregon’s basketball coach, a man named Don Monson in 1992 and the article I read said that you came out on a losing side when the university tried to reassign him rather than buy him out. I’m wondering as president how you stood on that issue.
BRAND: Well, the university was facing difficult financial times and there was some time left on Coach Monson’s contract. He had been a long-term basketball coach there but wasn’t performing in terms of the level and quality of play that was expected by the university and by the various constituents. It seemed to me that rather than fire him we could reassign him to another sport, in particular it was golf, as I recall, which was one of his passions. He would have no part of that and so we went to court after we fired him. Eventually, it happened near the end of my tenure so it bled over into the next president, Dave Frohnmayer, who finished it up and Monson lost in the end.
SCARPINO: What I was wondering when I read that was were there any leadership issues there, in particular did anything happen in this case that assisted you or helped you or gave you insight when you encountered a more difficult case at Indiana University related to Coach Knight.
BRAND: No. This was a normal case in which a coach had to be replaced. He was resistant and sometimes that happens. I don’t know what proportion of the time but sometimes a coach will be resistant. Of course the university was willing to meet its contract and willing to pay his salary for the amount of time that was left on his contract, but we just didn’t want him as a basketball coach and since we were paying him we thought it was reasonable, particularly in these difficult times, that there be some service and not just pay him out. He was not happy with that and went to court and he lost.
SCARPINO: One of the things that I got to do in preparing for this interview is something I never would have done in the normal course of my life is read the Oregonian [laughter]. I did read an article in the Oregonian which announced your naming as president of Indiana University and it contained some critical comments by the director of the University of Oregon’s office of student advocacy. And I’m going to read what she said but I’m more interested in the subject than what she had to say. She said when you arrived, you arrived on campus with great promise in the area of affirmative action but she added, you had unfortunately surrounded yourself with people who were quite conservative and who at times lacked expertise, especially on issues of sexual intimation and harassment. And what I would like to ask you is really related; what is your opinion of the appropriate role of a university in affirmative action?
BRAND: Oh, I have a very strong advocate for affirmative action. I had hired a woman of Asian and African-American descent as affirmative action officer who is doing a good job but struggling through some of the problems we had in the law school at the time and apparently the person who was quoted didn’t like the approach that this woman had taken. I think a university has to be a model for social justice. Not just the ability to analyze it and talk about it but to exemplify it as well and that puts the university in a position of having to take actions that perhaps in a corporate community would never be taken in terms of respect for others and making sure that there’s full fairness. Of course within a university community, particularly one as active as Oregon, there will be differences of opinion of how far one should go and where the university should stand and that’s healthy for an academic culture, for a culture that engages in free speech and free thought. So I’m not surprised that whatever position the university took there would be some people who disagreed with it.
SCARPINO: What was your leadership position on affirmative action? What did you do to facilitate the university’s participation?
BRAND: As I mentioned, I appointed a person in that office and worked generally with various groups and committees, many of which I formed myself in order to make sure that the university’s affirmative action and social issues besides the hiring of faculty and others that affirmative action speaks directly towards was well considered and well taken care of. Oregon, like a few other universities—Berkeley would be another example. Sometimes Oregon was called “Berzerkely of the north.”
SCARPINO: I’ve heard that. [laughter]
BRAND: It’s a very activist community and that has a great deal of interest but it also applies pressure to the administration to work through these issues and spend a lot of time on them and I did.
SCARPINO: Do you think that universities have a role in gender issues such as sexual intimidation or sexual harassment?
BRAND: Oh, absolutely they have and they have a role to play in fair treatment for people with different sexual orientation. I think again, not just doing the research that’s necessary to back up the approaches that should be taken elsewhere, that they themselves should exemplify the best practices and the moral high ground.
SCARPINO: Did you consider yourself to be a leader in that area?
BRAND: Yes, I did. I do.
SCARPINO: By 1993, your actions, which we talked about last time had begun to stabilize and improve the budgetary situation at Oregon and you must have decided that it was time for Myles Brand to move on because I read that you were a finalist for the presidency of the University of Wisconsin in 1993 and a candidate for the presidency of Michigan State. In leadership terms. . .
BRAND: I wasn’t a candidate for Michigan State.
SCARPINO: Oh, I read it in the paper. So once again I won’t believe everything I read in the paper.
BRAND: Oh, yeah. Don’t believe everything you read. [laughter]
SCARPINO: How about University of Wisconsin? Was that one accurate?
BRAND: Yes, yes I was.
SCARPINO: In leadership terms, what were you looking for? Where did you want to end up?
BRAND: Well, I wanted to end up in a public university. I’m committed to, and always have been, to public higher education. I think it’s one of the most important social institutions we have in this country—the ability to educate those independently of family background and wealth. And so I thought that was important for me to stay in public higher education. I wanted to make sure that Oregon was on solid ground both financially, but in terms of its academic directions, before I considered a move. It was about that time, as you correctly pointed out, that we were stabilizing and moving forward and it seemed to me that I was getting a number of inquiries that that might not be a bad time to move on. Sometimes a president who is a change agent, and I considered myself a change agent, complicated even more by the fact that I had some difficult problems to confront and solve, you use up your goodwill and so I think I was welcome there. In fact, some people were angry at me because I left and probably still are. They say well, why didn’t you stay longer? But I think that someone else coming in new would have had a better opportunity to build from that platform rather than continuing to carry around the baggage that I had because of the changes I made and the problems I had to solve and as we talked about last time, some of them were difficult problems.
SCARPINO: Right. Did you consider yourself a change agent when you moved to Indiana University?
BRAND: Yes. [laughter] I think by that time. . .
SCARPINO: . . .was that just part of the motivation?
BRAND: No. No. By that time in my mind I started to be clear at that at Ohio State and certainly more so at Oregon and then at Indiana that I wasn’t satisfied in the managerial role. I wanted a leadership role and that meant a change agent and it also meant that as you get things done you use up some goodwill, make some new friends and lose some others. You know, there’s the old saying. friends come and go but enemies accumulate, and so, particularly in these presidencies. That happens and so I consider myself a change agent. I didn’t know what changes needed to take place at Indiana and I didn’t go there to change anything but that’s the way I perceive myself.
SCARPINO: April 15th, 1994, the Trustees of Indiana University named you as president. You served until 2002. Generally, what attracted you to Indiana University?
BRAND: Well, the Big Ten institutions is really the heart of public higher education in this country and of course there are good public universities scattered through the rest of the country but the midwest and the Big Ten institutions really are what I might say as a whole, the major leagues of public higher education and so I was very attracted to move back into the midwest public institutions in a presidential role. So that was the key attraction to me. I considered that the pinnacle of wanting to be in public higher education as a president.
SCARPINO: Do you have any idea why the trustees picked you as opposed to the other finalists?
BRAND: I never did know nor did I try to inquire who the other finalists were. So I don’t know what the competition looked like. [laughter]
SCARPINO: I don’t know either.
BRAND: And it, frankly, doesn’t matter. I hope they looked at my record and we had a good set of interviews. I also thought, and this is in retrospect with hindsight as opposed to what occurred at the time, that as difficult time as I had at Oregon, they liked the way I handled it and was willing and able to take on some hard problems. So I think that was part of the reason.
SCARPINO: I, in reading the Oregonian, there was an article that appeared in that newspaper, April 15th, 1994 that said the following, and I’ll just read one line to you. It said, aside from a tight-fisted legislature, the new president (that is you) will face other challenges that include combative basketball coach Bobby Knight. And I remember when we talked about your going to Oregon you said that you took the job with considerable eagerness but didn’t see that budget crisis looming as seriously as it became. Did you have any inkling that the situation with Coach Knight would develop the way that it did at the time that you took the job?
BRAND: Oh, I think a lot of people at the time. . .
SCARPINO: . . .were there dark clouds on the horizon? [laughing]
BRAND: . . .No, there were not dark clouds on the horizon. A lot of people want to talk more about Coach Knight than other part of the job and I saw that as a small part of the job. A high-profile coach no doubt and one that had been in the news and had a reputation but I didn’t take that as a major part of the job.
SCARPINO: What about the tight-fisted legislature part? I mean did you come to Indiana with the expectation that one of your challenges was going to be to persuade the legislature to fund the university system?
BRAND: Oh, absolutely. I think university presidents, especially public universities, face challenging financial times. Now Indiana was in much better financial shape in terms of the support of higher education than Oregon, but I knew it wasn’t generous and I knew that I had a case to make. In fact, I think my first official act was to go down to the legislature which was in session when I arrived in mid-April. I was prepared to do that and understood it well and I took that to be part of the task.
SCARPINO: How would you assess your success in working with the legislature?
BRAND: I think it was good. I don’t think I changed any people’s minds in any radical ways. I think Indiana University over the period of time I served did financially well in the legislature. I think we got our special projects supported. One good example is special monies for the School of Informatics which we started from scratch and several other projects. So I think we had a good relationship with the legislature. We worked hard. They didn’t give us everything we wanted by a long shot. In the state of Indiana it was very difficult for one institution to distinguish itself from others because the legislature really wanted to treat all the public universities the same for obvious political reasons. But, one of the benefits I saw to it, I was used to in other public universities of great control of the monies from higher education, that monies came in different colors and you could use something for one thing but not for something else. I remember very early on in my tenure at Indiana, I went to one of the senior senators who was involved in the financing of higher education and I said I want 3 1/2 % for this and a percent and a half for that and he said stop. He said, just tell me the total amount and we leave to you how best to spend the dollars. And my eyes lit up. I said finally we have some flexibility. They may not give us a lot of money but they gave us the flexibility and I think the legislature was true to its word along those lines. They were a good oversight but not needless regulation on how we spent it and that allowed the university to make some good decisions despite the fact that on a proportionate basis Indiana is not a well-funded higher education state.
SCARPINO: Was responsibility-centered management or budgeting a good fit for that kind of legislative approach?
BRAND: That was already in place. Tom Ehrlich, my predecessor, put that in place and it especially focused on the Bloomington campus. I don’t think that had anything to do with the legislature. It had much more to do with accountability and over the years I looked at that carefully and we refined it and changed it but didn’t remove it. I think it has some advantages. It may, at this point, have outlived its usefulness but at the time it really helped to involve the deans and the department heads in decision-making in a way that they weren’t before. It gave them more authority and therefore there’s more accountability. So it was basically a good system. Not without its problems but basically a good system of distributed decision-making and distributed financial accountability. But I don’t think that had anything to do with the money coming in from the legislature.
SCARPINO: In leadership terms, what were differences and similarities between serving as president of the University of Oregon and president of Indiana University?
BRAND: I think the fact that Oregon was a single campus but with a board that had multiple campuses for oversights. There wasn’t a direct board at Oregon. There was a board for the whole system. So I didn’t interact with the board very much. We had a chancellor whose main job was to interact with the board. But the presidents of the universities in Oregon were really left on their own which was good, but the board was distant. It was just the reverse in Indiana. I had a board directly to work with which was good. It was time-consuming but it was good to have that. On the other hand, rather than being in charge of one campus now, Indiana was multiple campuses. Two major campuses plus half a dozen smaller campuses and I think that changed the complexion quite a bit and the interplay between the two major campuses in Indianapolis and Bloomington really was a factor in how best to govern that and the fact that each campus had its own chancellor which doesn’t, which is kind of a misnomer. Those chancellors were not really full-blown chancellors because the president was really the president of the entire university, but they were more than provosts. So, it’s almost a unique system that Indiana has and it made for some difficult challenges I think.
SCARPINO: Such as?
BRAND: I think the presidency at Indiana University is a very weak presidency but it’s not known to be so unless you really understand the way these administrative structures work. There’s a weak presidency because the chancellors had a great deal of control on each campus and that the president was caused to cross over. So the system was somewhere in between a system like SUNY or California which you have a chancellor’s office and a lot of autonomy on the campuses, like Oregon, or a system where you have a single university campus and a president. Now there may be some smaller campuses. Michigan would be an example where the president is also in charge of the major campus as well as the subsidiary campuses. In the case of Indiana with a strong provost-type chancellor on that campus as well as IUPUI, it made it a challenge to be intimate with that campus, at the same time trying to act across the entire university.
SCARPINO: You mentioned it was one of the challenges and I assume opportunities, the interplay between Indianapolis and Bloomington campus. How would you characterize that interplay?
BRAND: I think it was actually, it was and probably still is—I’ve been away for almost five years—but a difficult situation whose benefits I think those most involved in it, including the faculty, were not fully aware and part of my job, frankly, as president of Indiana University was keeping the place glued together. There’s always a pressure in academic institutions to devolve to the lowest common structure. So for example, the university as a whole wants to devolve into separate institutions and the institutions want to devolve into separate colleges and the colleges want to devolve into separate departments and gluing this whole thing together to get the synergies between the various campuses and groups is a challenge. I said it’s a weak presidency. I must add that it didn’t stop me from doing what I wanted to do and for better or worse I powered through that. Sometimes people thought that perhaps I overextended the powers of the presidency but the fact is that that was the only way in which you could get something done, I thought, at Indiana University. You really had to take a strong leadership position sometimes because the structure was designed to have a weak president.
SCARPINO: How did you function as president and leader of the system in attempting to keep the place glued together as you put it?
BRAND: Well, I made sure that those who were leaders on each of the campuses understood what the strategic goals were. Worked very closely with the board and tried to spend a lot of time with them so they can help be the glue. I mean they are the ultimate cement that keeps the place going—the lay board. Making sure as much as possible that where there’s crossover opportunities, I emphasized those and pressed on those. I tried to be a presence, especially on the Bloomington campus, but somewhat on the IUPUI campus and only occasionally on the smaller campuses, and it was a very time-consuming approach. I mean it would have been easier just to fall into a position and let everyone run everything and sit in the back but I didn’t take that approach at all. I took a very hands-on approach and again that might have ruffled some feathers but I think it created some progress as well.
SCARPINO: You stated in an interview in the Indianapolis Star, and I’ll just quote one line from the interview. You said the job of CEO at a university is extremely difficult because of the constituencies you deal with. As president of Indiana University, what were your main constituencies?
BRAND: Oh, how long do we have? [laughter]
SCARPINO: How about the five minutes?
BRAND: No, I’m just teasing, but—and it’s not unique to Indiana University. I think public university presidents have multiple constituents. There are external constituents—obviously includes the legislature, the congress. It includes donors, foundations, alumni groups, people in the street who think they own the university and probably do. Then internal to the institution there are students and faculty and staff members, unions, and physical plant people, people you work with daily, your secretarial staff and so on, faculty governance issues. There is the administrative structure—chancellor and deans and various directors, department heads. I probably left out a good number, and they all have different interests.
SCARPINO: Sounds like a massive juggling act.
BRAND: It’s a massive juggling act but it’s also important to listen and the real life point is that no matter how hard you listen and think carefully about what they say, it’s impossible to agree with everyone, because even amongst the faculty, if you think of the faculty as a single constituent, you don’t understand the faculty because there are multiple constituents and more than two amongst the faculty with different points of views. On the Bloomington campus, those who came from the humanities especially were uncomfortable with the sciences and those in the sciences felt that they weren’t supported enough and then you had the professional schools. The arts and sciences folks were uncomfortable with the business people and the business people were uncomfortable with HPER and then within each group too there were warring factions sometimes because people were trying to develop special opportunities for themselves. Sometimes they were groups, sometimes it was philosophical differences. There was differences amongst those who were more liberal-minded about social issues and less liberal-minded about social issues. Bloomington has and had a very strong faculty, politically conservative view. In fact, one of the faculty members is serving in the Bush administration is the head of NEA and. . .
SCARPINO: . . .and for the record, that person is?
BRAND: . . Bruce Cole. And, who was a very conservative player and was politically very conservative on campus and influential. You had for example senior faculty members who had a view of themselves not shared by others and had a very high view of themselves and thought that special privileges should accrue to them and other faculty members who were junior and trying to get tenure and people who were liberal politically but conservative about faculty rights. Again, it’s a very complex web of constituents within constituents and you try to understand and learn the best you can and then figure out what it is best for the university as a whole and march in that direction and hope you can get enough people to follow you.
SCARPINO: What became your agenda for Indiana University? I mean, we did talk a little bit last time about how your leadership style is to listen and gather information and talk to people and then develop an agenda and when you finally got to that point what was the agenda that you developed for Indiana University?
BRAND: Well, academically I was very interested in making sure that the undergraduate student body had an up-to-date curriculum. The last time curriculum had been undertaken on the campus had been literally decades ago. I looked at that. We looked at questions about where the opportunities lie and Indiana University has strong arts and humanities and the music school in particular is very strong and so how do you figure out how to support that section of the university but also to look for some opportunities to grow the sciences. Indiana University does not have a School of Engineering, and one of the things I did and I spent a long time, talked with many faculty members about this, is figuring out what would engineering be in the 21st century. This was in the late, I did this in the 1990s. What would engineering—what would be the leading type of technical, scientific approach, and it had something to do with information technology and so we took Indiana University which was, frankly, not on the map with information technology, and I hired a very strong chief information officer—a man named Michael McRobbie, who is now the new president of IU—to help transform the institution and worked to start up a new School of Informatics which is the applications of information technology to life and work. So that was one thing that I worked towards.
And another thing that I worked towards was understanding the very special role that the School of Medicine plays, and not just on the IUPUI campus, but in the state. It’s the only medical school in the state and as such the university has responsibility, not just for training doctors, but because of the associated medical centers—the hospital themselves who has a very significant role in health care. And so how can we enhance the health care both clinically as well as in terms of research and one of the areas I worked hard in was the biomedical or life sciences initiative, starting with genomics and moving on to proteomics.
When I first started to do that, I remember I went to a group of leading business professionals in this area and I told them that we need to have a statewide effort along these lines and the state has to contribute to it as well and the university by itself can’t do it and we should get special state money. And then I took on a, for about a year or a year and a half, I visited every rotary club and every animal club—you know, moose and elk and so on—just through the state and for that period of time tried to raise the profile of these efforts. The good news is that the state accepted that, and I remember when I spoke to former Governor O’Bannon and then Lt. Governor Joe Kernan about this and they thought it was a good idea but they weren’t really ready to put any money in it. But we worked through the legislature and we got something called the 21st Century Fund which was investment capital for these kinds of activities.
And then I worked closely with the Lilly Endowment. At first they provided a $50 million grant for our information technology efforts and then a $100 million grant or $106 million grant for our life sciences initiative. And so, part of the job of the president is to not only help strategically but find ways to support it. Rather than reallocate money my job was to go out and find new sources of funding. So those were two important initiatives and I tried to use those to glue together the campuses. With Informatics it’s a single school that crosses both campuses.
SCARPINO: Right. New building on the IUPUI campus.
BRAND: New building on the IUPUI campus and eventually a building on the Bloomington campus, and I think right now it was 150 new state supported faculty members and so it’s a university-wide, not campus-specific, effort. While the life sciences initiative was mostly directed towards the medical school, obviously because that’s where a lot of the expertise lie, I wanted to engage the life sciences on the Bloomington campus and that was tough. I remember I went and met with the biology department which is a fine department on the Bloomington campus and I told them that they need to work closely with the people in the medical school. This was before we got new funding, and I said, “You know, there are some opportunities here and moreover there are some very good people there worth collaborating with” and they almost threw me out of the room. They said, “We’ll collaborate with people from medical schools but you know, Stanford or Harvard. We’re not going to collaborate with folks up in Indianapolis.” And of course that was dead wrong and they realized it was wrong as soon as I got the funding [laughing] because they were cut out, and eventually brought them back in but only under the condition that they would collaborate. The ability to build those collaborations across campuses in life sciences was critical because there were good basic scientists on the Bloomington campus and extraordinarily good clinicians as well as basic scientists on the Indianapolis campus and the question was how do you get them all to work together. Other than try to talk them into it there’s very little you can do except when you have some resources that they’d like to have a share of. That helped.
SCARPINO: And eventually they did work together.
BRAND: It’s fits and starts, and the answer is yes. We got that done.
SCARPINO: You mentioned a couple of terms about five minutes ago that I’m going to ask you to briefly define just because I don’t think most people who listen to this are going to know what they are. Genomics and proteomics and I probably didn’t even pronounce them right, but. . .
BRAND: It’s looking inside the molecules for understanding what the causes of diseases are. Looking inside the DNA of humans, and at that time they had not yet mapped the entire human genome and so that was still ongoing and so part of it was figuring out how to map the human genome in some classical models like mice and rats and then use that information for drug discovery. As they got more deeply into that problem they found out it wasn’t just the genes but it was the proteins in the genes—and that’s proteomics—proteins in the genes that needed to actually be investigated at which point, the Lilly Endowment made an additional, very large, investment. In fact, in my last several years at IU, the Lilly Endowment invested over $200 million, $250 million, in the institution and that was really quite a breakthrough. I was pleased I was able to be part of that because prior to that the endowment, which is centered in Indianapolis, and committed to Indiana, was uncomfortable with supporting public higher education and was very uncomfortable with supporting anything to do with medicine and life sciences. And in working with the leadership with the Lilly Endowment, I think we were able to break through and I really appreciate their willingness to take a chance on Indiana University along those lines and my view is that those investments really paid off.
SCARPINO: Do you think that the emphasis on informatics and on life sciences as it has played out has added research dimensions to Indiana University or shifted the direction of research performed at the university?
BRAND: Oh, I think it’s added dramatically to the university. It hasn’t taken anything away. They’re still doing research on Shakespeare and philosophy is still being taught and the School of Music is still performing great classical opera. So all that’s true but in addition, there’s some great research now going on that’s going to have consequences I think for the health and well-being of not only people in Indiana but well beyond that. I think it’s significantly enlarged the base of research at Indiana. I’d like to think and I hope I’m not sounding unhumble at this but I like to think that the impetus I put towards life sciences very early on and initiated that project had an important role to play in the state’s adoption of that as, and many people’s adoption of it, as a major, not just economic force, but force for research and the wellness of people.
SCARPINO: As far as Indiana University’s role in life sciences initiative and life sciences research, did that grow directly out of your leadership? Was that your idea?
SCARPINO: OK. Do you think that the president of a public university holds a public trust, and if so what’s the nature of that trust? How would you describe it?
BRAND: I think you have to be committed to the people of the state and those associated with the university. You have to understand that the life of thousands of young people—and Indiana University has close to 100,000 students—the life of thousands of students, their future is not only in your hands, I don’t want to exaggerate the role of the president—but is part of the trust you have and the leadership you have. You also have a growing trust for the general citizenry through their economic well-being.
I think public universities are taking on different roles than they had in the past. They’re no longer just educational institutions. They become institutions for economic development and social change. I mean, many of the institutions in America are severely challenged—whether it’s the church or the government, the courts—are all severely challenged, and more and more are finding those lacuna satisfied or being asked to be satisfied by our public universities. And so what you have as a president is to understand the complex social environment that you live in in a state and how the university can help to improve that social and economic environment.
Now that broad understanding is the trust. I don’t think in general, the faculty appreciate that point. I think the faculty think of the university as certainly a place to teach young people, but also as, at least in the research campuses, as a place to support and encourage their research. They don’t see it as a public service enterprise. They see it as a purely academic enterprise and one of the reasons I think that we’re seeing more contentiousness in universities between upper administration and faculty than we have in the past is that many presidents have come to understand the role of universities, certainly the large privates, but most importantly the publics, in social change and economic development and support for the general citizenry and population. But the university as a whole, faculty in particular, don’t see it that way, and so you find a tension about what the university should be and what roles it should serve and what its trust consistent and it’s different for the president that may not be shared by a majority or even a large minority of the faculty.
SCARPINO: Do you think that part of that tension relates to whether to and how to reward people for engaging in activity that we might call civic engagement or economic development or?
BRAND: Well, I think that’s part of it. I think IUPUI understands it more than Bloomington. Bloomington is a very traditional campus and I think poorly understood that point, at least when I served there. It was a point I stressed. But I think IUPUI as being in the city and being of the city had a much better understanding of it and more easily accommodated itself and understood its role but lacked the financial resources amongst other resources to make a significant impact.
So the challenge was really to get the Bloomington campus to understand its changing and growing role and then the two campuses to work together in this role so that you can maximize the efforts that could be made and for example in health care for example, allowing the medical school on the IUPUI campus to play a role in that, the development of the life sciences not merely as research opportunities but in fact as an economic engine for the state. And so I stressed that and I think IUPUI faculty/administration understood that and were helpful and empathetic to it. It was much harder to get the Bloomington faculty to understand. I may not have succeeded in doing that.
Many universities have tech transfer operations and when it came to IU there wasn’t one. And so I started it from scratch. We called it ARTI—Advanced Research and Technology Institute—and it has a building here in Indianapolis and an incubator which is now full. But I don’t think people at the Bloomington campus understood why I wanted to do that and why it was important. And anyway, what does that have to do with research into Renaissance literature and. . .
SCARPINO: . . .but tech transfer relates to the transfer of the fruits of research to the private sector?
BRAND: It has something to do with that. It also has a way to help certain faculty who were interested in this start up their own companies because it isn’t just the technology transfer but it’s the attempt to create jobs in these high-paying fields and spin-off companies that can do that. So it has a direct economic development and I think that’s the role particular of public institutions now—broadly speaking.
SCARPINO: One of the things that your move from the University of Oregon to the Big Ten must have done is to put you in a situation where the profile of athletics was a lot higher and I actually want to ask you in a few minutes some questions about Coach Knight through a leadership lens but I have a general question about it.
BRAND: I should say I’m really limited in what I can say about Knight. There’s still pending litigation.
SCARPINO: I know that. I won’t follow up in those cases where you, but I would, to the degree that you can speak about it I would be interested in really your sense of your role as a leader in that episode.
SCARPINO: I have a more general question about athletics and academics at a university, and you know, the situation with Coach Knight heated up in May of 2000. There was a woman named Mary Burgan who, at that point, was general secretary of the American Association of University Professors, and I read an interview with her in which she said university presidents always will have to deal with the balance between athletics and academics. And I’m wondering, during your tenure as president of Indiana University, what was your leadership role in achieving or attempting to set the balance between athletics and academics?
BRAND: I wouldn’t describe it the way Mary did. I would say rather the president has the responsibility to ensure that athletics is embedded into the academic mission of the university and that athletics is not an adjunct, independent, entertainment part of a university but rather to the extent that athletics is undertaken, it’s undertaken to provide educational value to the student athletes and that presidents need to understand athletics and understand its role in the university.
I thought the athletic department when I came to Indiana University was functioning well. There wasn’t a lot of repair work to be done. I thought it was reasonably well integrated. I’m talking about the Bloomington campus athletic program. Each of the other seven campuses had one but the Bloomington one as a Big Ten institution was the most high profile. I didn’t see great separation. There was some and I had some issues and concerns and namely, for example, who controls it, academic advising, the academic part of the house of the athletic department. And there were a few other issues along those lines but it wasn’t in bad shape.
SCARPINO: I have one other general question that came up during the period of conflict or crisis with Coach Knight but implies more generally to the issue of leadership. A man named Donald Caruth who in 2000 was a business professor and a management consultant said in an interview with the Indianapolis Star, he said, “What I’ve found is that where managers are willing to take responsibility for a problem, people are willing to forgive them for it,” and obviously what you ended up doing was contentious but do you think that that, there’s any truth to that statement that, where the leaders are willing to take responsibility for his or her decisions that people are willing to forgive or go along with?
BRAND: Oh, I think to a great extent that’s true. It doesn’t speak for the avid fans, sports fans though.
SCARPINO: I didn’t say everyone.
BRAND: They’re in a whole different category. But yes.
SCARPINO: Generally speaking.
BRAND: Yes, generally speaking. Not immediately, because they may not agree with the decision but over time I think the fact you’re willing to stand up and take personal responsibility is a positive aspect and I think that’s part of being a leader. I think if you’re not willing to stand up and not just defend your decisions but also defend what’s right and take the heat that comes with it, you’re in the wrong job. I mean that’s part about being a leader.
SCARPINO: I wanted to talk to you about several of the initiatives that you undertook while you were the leader at Indiana University and some of them have already come up and so I’ll truncate what I was going to ask. You oversaw what I believe is the largest privatization initiative in the history of the university when you oversaw the consolidation of Indiana University Medical Center and Methodist Hospital to form Clarian Health Partners. What was the origin of that plan?
BRAND: That was an important change and like other major changes at a university like Indiana you can’t really assign it to one person, and you do have to understand what the situation was. At that point, health care was in turmoil. It’s still in turmoil, it’s just a different turmoil right now. But it was in turmoil then and in particular our medical school which at that point owned and controlled the hospitals was concerned about the fact that they were losing market share, hence not able easily to continue to educate all the medical students, interns, and residents. It is the second largest medical school in the country. So they were worried about the ability to have opportunities for their students and they were beginning to worry about financial issues.
At that time medical schools, some of the most famous medical schools in the country with associated hospitals, were losing literally hundreds of millions of dollars a year, and while that had not yet happened at Indiana it was clear that it was down the track unless something changed. And we had good consulting advice on that. Dean Daly at the medical school was very helpful along those lines and most especially John Walda, who was head, chair of the board of trustees at that point, was an important player in this and as we all worked together on this and began to understand what the situation is and continue to get good advice from many consultants and others, it was decided that we needed to do something different with the hospitals. The medical school always had to be part of IU but you had to decouple the medical school from the hospitals.
SCARPINO: That being Indiana University Hospital and Riley Hospital?
BRAND: Yes. How do we decouple those two major hospitals in a way that enables the medical school to still have outlets for physician training but at the same time is financially viable? And there were lots of experiments going on across the country in doing that and the approach that we wound up taking was to find a partner, which was Methodist Hospitals, to form a new corporation, which was named Clarian, and bring together the academic physicians with the private practice physicians in this new operation. That had been tried elsewhere in the country and to the best of my knowledge they all failed over time except this one.
SCARPINO: Why do you think that is?
BRAND: I think it is for a couple of reasons. First of all there’s a confluence of values between what we wanted to accomplish at Indiana University and Methodist Hospital. I think there was good leadership that was persistent and saw through not just on the IU side, although a lot of the emphasis came from the IU side, but also from the Methodist side. There were some real challenges. The academic and private practice physicians had, and to some extent still do have, different agendas and it’s harder for them to work together. Now they’ve come together since then and those who couldn’t have left. But I think that— what it turned out was that the business model was actually more successful than we expected and that saved, I think to a great degree, some stress on the university if it had to start paying out $50 to $100 million a year to make up for losses in the hospitals. But the—putting together the two groups of physicians proved more recalcitrant than predicted.
So there were significant challenges. I think we’re pretty much in our tenth year of it right now and I still continue to serve on the Clarian board. I still follow that particular initiative of the university and I think it works for the city and now for the state. It’s been an important step forward for the university but very difficult to accomplish. Despite the fact that the state of Indiana gave very little funding to the medical school, they still as if they owned it and so we spent close to a year in hearings about whether the state should permit this merger to take place. But it did and we worked our way through it. I, again, give a lot of credit to John Walda especially who, at the board leadership level, was a terrific partner to work with us and should get a lot of credit for it.
SCARPINO: In addition to putting physicians from two different cultures together and persuading the state of Indiana or the state legislature, the state administration in Indiana, that this was an appropriate idea, what were some of the other leadership challenges that you faced in order to make this work?
BRAND: We had to make sure that people understood what we were doing in both institutions. We had to set up structures from scratch, bring together two different medical systems. Facilities turned out to be a great challenge too. Some of the facilities were aged in some places. We had to create a transportation system between the two hospitals. They’re about a mile, mile and a half apart. We had, in fact, put up a people mover, a monorail, and we had to start from scratch in creating a culture of a new medical center.
It has been remarkably successful I think and now it’s not just the major health provider in the city of Indianapolis but through its affiliated hospitals statewide the major health provider in the state and while Indiana University doesn’t own Clarian, it is a 50% partner in it. So I think the fact that you didn’t have to own it to get all you needed to be accomplished both in terms of education, research, and clinical care was an importantly different concept for the institution as a whole and it took some time to help, say, some of the board members as well as the general faculty understand that the goals were not necessarily to own it. It isn’t like old General Motors where you have to own everything but rather what are your goals by running a medical school and hospitals and how best can you accomplish that?
SCARPINO: Why do you think Methodist signed on to this?
BRAND: I thought they saw a good opportunity in terms of creating a larger organization with a larger market share. They were a hospital and they had no medical school or nothing beyond that so they were just looking to merge hospitals. But I think as Indiana University went around to the various hospital systems in the city and the state to see who would our best partner would be, there was really, as I mentioned before, a confluence of values. Although Methodist is a sectarian school, a sectarian institution and Indiana University and the medical school obviously is not non-sectarian, that didn’t get in the way of the values for health care, for respect for people, for charity care in particular. The charity care for University Hospital is well known but Methodist itself was deeply involved in charity care and so I think just those goals and values that came together made it a lot more palatable and made it very clear that Methodist was the best partner.
SCARPINO: The sense that I get as a non-technical observer of the medical industry in the Indianapolis metro area is that it’s highly competitive in particular areas and constantly seeking to expand market share. Was that an advantage that Methodist accrued by partnering with Indiana University, that it really allowed it to increase its presence in that competitive market in the city?
BRAND: Yes, that’s exactly right. Now remember, both of these were and are not-for-profits. That doesn’t mean there isn’t competition because Clarian, for example, is providing over $250 million a year in charity care. You’ve got to have some revenues coming in if you’re going to do anything like that and you’ve got to be able to pay for the docs and the hospital beds and so on. So you need to also think about as a business as well as a not-for-profit healthcare organization. Methodist understood that and saw there was some advantages in coming together with Indiana University. I don’t think, at least for the first few years, that Methodist really understood what the true advantage was in terms of having not just university hospitals and a fine children’s hospital such as Riley, but also that the medical research done by the medical school was an asset in patient care. I think now it’s fully realized but that took a while to get into the culture.
SCARPINO: Under your presidency at Indiana University, the university also initiated a major marketing plan to get the word out about Indiana University and its programs and its opportunities. Why?
BRAND: Well, the main reason of course was to recruit the best quality students. I mean Indiana University had enough applications that we didn’t have empty places in class, but you always want to have a large recruiting class so you can choose the best students. You also want to be able to attract donors because the state was not providing sufficient resources, and also to make sure that all the good work of those on the campuses was widely known. In part, Indiana was hiding its light under the bushel, and that was a strange thought to people on campus, and particularly the Bloomington campus. They though being good was sufficient and you didn’t have to make sure anyone else knew about it and I thought the institution was not realizing its full potential because it was keeping these secrets too much. So I wanted to be able to tell that story well.
And I started talking about it during this strategic planning exercise. As I mentioned in Oregon I always do strategic planning and so as part of the early year or two at Indiana I did strategic planning—one initiative of which was to be able to tell these stories. Now I wasn’t allowed to use the word “marketing” because the faculty at Bloomington didn’t like that word. They thought it was too corporate. People at IUPUI understood it a lot better and were not uncomfortable with it [laughing] but in Bloomington they were. So I had to talk in euphemisms like telling the story. But it came to the same thing and we did that and I thought we did it well. We increased the number of applications, the quality of the student body, both in Bloomington and elsewhere, and I think it paid off in terms of fundraising. For example, one of the issues we had is Indiana wasn’t very good at fundraising. They were last in the Big Ten in the number of named professorships and chairs which were supported by private donations and the foundation and was `about a million dollars or more to name a chair or professorship. So as part of the. . .
SCARPINO: . . .It’s gone up. . .[laughter]
BRAND: . . .it’s about two million now, right. But at that time we were at the very bottom and so one of the things I did as part of the fundraising activity was say this is an area which is important to us. It will allow us to attract and retain the very best faculty members and so in a period of about three years we moved from last in the Big Ten to first in the Big Ten. We had about 300 new chairs and professorships which was a very successful campaign. But you needed to be able to tell the story of the university in order to attract your alumni and other donors and so that was part of the marketing effort. I think there was still a lot of resistance while I was at IU to taking this approach. For example, when Time magazine designated the Bloomington campus as the leading campus in undergraduate education in the country, we put it on billboards, and I think that made an impact although I’m not sure it was well-appreciated by some of the faculty on the Bloomington campus but it certainly was appreciated by potential students and their parents and it helped us along those lines.
One of the things I did at Indiana during fundraising was that I decided not to have a single university campaign. I was afraid that if I’d raise a billion dollars in a conservative state like Indiana that the legislature would say, “Why do you need that money?” Now I’m not sure I had that right but that was a concern of mine. So we staggered our fundraising efforts. We did Bloomington, we did the medical school, IUPUI, and some of it overlapped but we didn’t do it as a single campaign. And in the period of a campaign of about seven years which is the normal campaign, we raised about a billion and a half to a billion dollars. But we never called it that. I’m not sure that was the right decision because, or maybe the state has come to the point of view now and wasn’t earlier, that you could raise that much money and still be a public university.
SCARPINO: On your watch as president, Indiana University became a national leader in information technology, and we’ve already talked a little bit about that, but that clearly appeared to be part of your vision for the future of the university.
BRAND: Yes, absolutely. It was very clear that you could not be a leading university, public or private in this country, unless you were a leader in information technology, and so for example, we, through the good work of Michael McRobbie, attracted Internet2 and had the network operation center right here on the IUPUI campus and was running Internet2 worldwide and competing against for that opportunity, major corporations, IBM and telephone companies in Japan and other major universities, but we were able to bring that home and that was an important step. We created relationships with Microsoft and others where every student and faculty member would get all the software for free and we had a lifecycle computer system in which every four years or less everyone would get an updated computer and we had the largest supercomputer amongst all universities. That changes every year so you have to keep building new ones. But, and so on and then of course we started, as I mentioned, the School of Informatics which people thought it would be attractive to students but within about two or three years of its being initiated, it had 1,500 majors. So it was extraordinarily interesting to our student body but also to the state because we were turning out high-quality workers to serve in the state in the information technology and related businesses. So we were very successful in that but that was an early initiative, namely to bring Indiana University—Bloomington and IUPUI, into that leadership role.
SCARPINO: And finally, you talked about fundraising, but fundraising clearly was one of your initiatives as president. What do you think the role of fundraising is in a modern, public university?
BRAND: There’s a difference between public and private and it’s more extensive in private than public, but anyone who thinks that they can create a good university on tuition and state funds alone doesn’t understand how these things work. I mean the funds that you raise from alumni and friends and from endowments like the Lilly Endowment and other corporate endowments is what creates the excellence—the opportunity for excellence. We very significantly increased our fundraising effort and success during my time and I think that those monies helped a great deal in the special initiatives we had. What a president needs to do is make sure that the core of the university is supported. You don’t want to take funds away from teaching English or basic physics in order to support new initiatives whether it’s in the life sciences or IT. No matter how important they are you still have to do those critical core missions. So you have to find alternative funding sources in order to start the new initiatives and I worked at that.
SCARPINO: Was one of the leadership challenges persuading some of the various constituencies, whether it was the state legislature or Lilly or prospective donors, what it meant to have an excellent university?
BRAND: There’s a certain popularism connected with Indiana University, probably not the same as Purdue because it’s a technical institution, but Herman Wells who is really the grandfather and godfather for IU, was a popularist and he said this is the state’s university and that view of popularism which I am very comfortable with and embrace was embedded in the entire Bloomington campus and you had to convince people that you can be elite without being elitist. That you could be excellent, highest quality work, and still serve the general population and that was always the challenge. There was that tension that some felt between popularist and serving the population and at the same time being elite, being the best. And so that tension was there. I think for the most part we got past it but not fully.
SCARPINO: We talked a little bit about your role in initiating the Central Indiana Life Sciences project in which IU played a key role. How would you characterize your leadership role in bringing that?
BRAND: I think I was a catalyst. I certainly did not do it alone and I don’t want to for a moment give that impression. But I think I was a catalyst. I thought I saw that that was an area of strength for the university, an area in which the university could help economically in the state and that it was a growth opportunity. Indiana wasn’t the first state to go towards life sciences but I thought Indiana has some special opportunities along those lines if we can marshal our forces and combine our efforts. And so I saw myself as a catalyst and I spent a lot of time as I mentioned talking it up in the Statehouse, throughout the state, with business leaders in the university community and I think I managed to convince enough people so that then their leadership and involvement enabled it to succeed.
SCARPINO: So talking it up or communication must be a key quality of a university president.
BRAND: Oh, yes. I mean, perhaps I should say a little bit more about that. Talking it up in the sense of providing rational reasons why this is a good idea, why people should commit their time, energy, to it and try and help them envision what the possible future would look like if you did that and so you had, it—there is a certain amount of helping people see the future, and a particular president of the major university in the state is helping them understand what future there is for the state and the university’s contribution to it. And so I spent a lot of time doing that.
SCARPINO: Before I make the transition to your role as president of the NCAA, I do want to ask you a couple of questions related to the firing of Coach Bobby Knight and I understand you’re restricted in what you can say and that’s fine. And if I ask you a question that I shouldn’t follow up on because it’s still in litigation just tell me.
SCARPINO: But the subject of this interview and the reason that we’ve sat down together for two sessions is leadership. Do you think that Coach Knight was a leader or is a leader?
BRAND: I think there are a lot of people who follow Coach Knight and I think in terms of how to conduct on-court basketball, he certainly has been a leader through his whole career on that, has shaped, helped shape the modern college game.
SCARPINO: Why do you think he had such significant continuing problems despite his tremendous success as a coach?
BRAND: I think Coach Knight is a very complex man and his ability as a basketball coach to coach the game of basketball, I don’t think anyone should question, but he had some systematic personality approaches that created contentious situations.
SCARPINO: One of the things that occurred to me as I looked into this and it could be that I just thought about it too much and what occurred to me is really only makes sense in the context of what I’ve been reading, but do you suppose that society changed around his approach to leadership and that what might have been acceptable 25 or 30 years ago isn’t anymore?
BRAND: That may well be true. I think during World War II and following we had certain characteristics of military leaders and corporate leaders, very strong leaders played a key role and Coach Knight’s old enough to be influenced by those people and very knowledgeable about the history of the military for example and so that’s not surprising, but things changed in the late sixties and through the early part of the seventies. I think the Vietnam War revolution changed our perspective on how we expect to treat each other. That probably is the most lasting change that we’ve seen from that era and I think those kinds of hierarchal, forceful approaches to interacting with people aren’t nearly as well appreciated or appreciated as they were before and I think Coach Knight has a different view of that.
SCARPINO: And on, let’s see, May 14th, 2000, the Indianapolis Star brought a font page article about the developing controversy and they’re referring to you as president, the article said and I’ll just quote two lines. It said his predecessor, that is your predecessor, Thomas Ehrlich, publicly criticized Knight in 1998 for comments the coach made about rape in a televised interview. Ehrlich endured a vicious backlash from angry fans and never publicly criticized Knight again during the subsequent years before Ehrlich left the IU presidency in 1993. I assume that you knew about. . .
BRAND: . . .oh, yes. . .
SCARPINO: . . .the previous conflict and I’m wondering if it had any influence on your own handling of your own crisis with Coach Knight as it developed.
BRAND: I was aware of that and I knew that that kind of conflict took place between the coach and the president. I worked closely with the board of trustees and others and knew that that was a possible outcome.
SCARPINO: For you, given the limits on what you can currently say about this, what do you think the leadership issues were as this crisis unfolded?
BRAND: I think for me personally, the primary leadership issue was, was I going to stand up for the values of the institution and put the university first or not. Was I going to be worried about my own position? Or was I going to stand up and be counted? That’s the way I saw it and I put the values and the future of the institution above my own and I understood that there would be a backlash when I took the action and I understood it would be unpopular in many quarters, particularly around Bloomington, but I also was convinced it was for the best interests of the university and that’s why I was going to do it.
SCARPINO: How would you characterize the values of the institution that you placed at higher than any given individual?
BRAND: The values were that we have to respect and treat each other well. That Indiana University is an academic institution first and not a sports entertainment business. And that unless we enforce the commitment to respect for all and fair treatment for all that we were assured that violent activity was not condoned in any way, we would not be able to have the integrity as an academic institution that was necessary and there’s nothing more important to a university than its integrity. And the president as the primary representative of the university has to stand up for that integrity come what may.
SCARPINO: What was the, I mean you obviously made the decision, I mean that’s a matter of record and then stood by it, but what was the personal impact of making that decision on you and your family?
BRAND: Well, a lot of this could be read in the newspapers and, you know, my wife had to teach her classes with armed guards for a couple of weeks. We had some avid fans that were threatening. Nothing happened. We had a beer riot in front of the president’s house.
SCARPINO: A beer riot?
BRAND: Well, it was one evening they went by and pressed down and ruined some flowers but that was about it. And screamed and hollered a bit and it wasn’t pleasant. There was a serious backlash. But I knew that was coming and that was, in fact, predictable. There were some personal safety issues for me and my family, but nothing ever came of that and that wasn’t very long-lived. It affected my ability to lead in other parts of the university for a period of time—nine, 12 months. It was consuming and then I think pushed back some of the other agenda items for a period of time.
SCARPINO: Were you surprised at the degree to which the issue surrounding Coach Knight and the firing became a media frenzy and consumed other activities?
BRAND: I thought it was going to be an important issue but not at the same level that in fact occurred, and I’ll give you an example. I mentioned earlier that the Lilly Endowment had been supportive of the life sciences initiative and a few weeks before the firing I made an announcement that the university had received the largest gift—$106 million—the largest gift by far by a multiple of many than it ever received and so we managed to get a few press there. A little time later I announced the— something about Knight and we were shoulder to shoulder and it was international news and more television cameras than I had seen previously. It struck me as odd that activity that could affect people’s health and life’s future and the lives of their children was practically ignored but dealing with an athletics coach became very important news, and that struck me as not an appropriate way to do things, but that’s the way it is.
SCARPINO: In May, actually the later part of May of 2000, you, as I understand it, had Coach Knight to your house and you talked to him and then ultimately gave him a second chance. There’s a lot of play in the newspapers on that. I think you suspended him for three games and fined him and gave him an ultimatum about his behavior. I was wondering why you decided to give him a second chance. I mean did you really think that he would reform or did you expect the media storm that was about to break loose?
BRAND: Well, this has been cited in the papers and I think reasonably accurately, I don’t think Coach Knight had been—had that kind of warning in 29 years as coach and had been a successful coach. It seemed to me to be unfair to not give him any warning and during the conversation he had convinced me that he can handle this situation and that we can move forward from there and I took him at his word.
SCARPINO: I mean as a leadership issue generally, do you think that a leader who works with subordinates has a responsibility to make sure they understand what’s required of them and when they come up short to tell them clearly and give them a chance to mend their ways, so to speak?
BRAND: Oh, absolutely and in this case a very long-term employee who had brought successes to the university certainly deserved the benefit of the doubt. It would have been easier for me to dismiss Coach Knight at that moment. In fact, the media would have been far more friendly to me if I had done that, and we were advised by a number of people that that’s what you should do but I thought that Coach Knight, given what he had done for Indiana University, deserved a chance and he explained to me that he would be able to deal with that and I accepted that.
SCARPINO: How would you assess your own leadership in terms of your success in dealing with the media?
BRAND: Modest. I spent a lot of time in that job and as my current job interacting with media and I probably could always do better. I don’t think I’m a media darling. I do understand though how the media works and I think I know how to get my messages through and try and stay on message and think through what I’m going to say before I just show up. But I think I do modestly well, not overly so.
SCARPINO: Do you think that the level of media coverage that would be normal in the kinds of positions that you’ve held in the last 20 years—president of the NCAA, president of Indiana University—do you think it makes it harder or easier or influences the approach that one takes to leadership?
BRAND: With the media?
SCARPINO: Yeah. I mean do you think, I didn’t ask that very well. Do you think that the pervasiveness of media in the society that we function in makes it easier or harder to be a leader?
BRAND: I think the media can be provocative. The media likes to find exciting new people and build them up and then also at the same time likes to find those already who are accomplished or in power and find out what’s wrong with them. You know, the media doesn’t like to report that the train’s arrived on time. They like to report of differences and changes and so they will be provocative. I think it’s a challenge to a leader in a public environment and the positions I’ve had have been public positions. I mean, president of major public universities are public positions and certainly the president of the NCAA is a public position. So I think these have been highly visible positions and I understand that. I don’t shy away from that. But I do understand that the media has a job to do and that’s to sell newspapers or advertising time and for that they need to be provocative at times.
SCARPINO: Following the firing of Coach Knight, you gave a speech at the National Press Club and it seems to me that that incident gave you a high profile and an audience and yet at the end of the speech you didn’t take questions about Bobby Knight. What were you trying to get across in that speech which would seem to really give you an audience that you might not have otherwise had?
BRAND: Well, prior to the incidents with Knight, I was only modestly interested in athletics as part of the university and as I mentioned earlier I thought it was a reasonably well run athletic department. Didn’t have any particular problems. It financially seemed reasonably sound and seemed to be in compliance with the NCAA rules and so it wasn’t a major focus of my attention. But I did learn a lot about intercollegiate athletics over the several years in which I had to deal with the aftermath of Coach Knight and even before that incident I started to learn a lot about athletics.
By the time that was finished and I spoke at the National Press Club, I thought I had formulated and thought through a number of key positions about the role of athletics in universities and the roles of those who participate in it, the student athletes in particular. And that’s what that speech was about. It wasn’t about what happened to me and Knight. It was more about what the role of athletics was and that those who participated were students and they were student first and that athletics, which I saw firsthand, had in many ways taken over parts of the university—not just at Indiana but at other campuses—and was distorting the interests and image of the institutions and so I hoped to rectify that. Now the publicity I had because of Knight gave me a platform that I didn’t have before. I mean five years earlier there was no reason why the National Press Club would have invited me to speak on athletics. But that gave me a platform of which to talk about an understanding of what athletics should be and I, by that time, had formulated, I thought, a lot clearer view.
SCARPINO: How do you think Indiana University had been doing in terms of treating its, the members, the athletes who participated in the major sports as student athletes?
BRAND: Oh, I thought it was doing reasonably well. It was doing as well as other Big Ten institutions. I don’t think it was mistreating them in general. There were special cases of concerns and complaints but I think basically it was doing as good a job as most other universities.
SCARPINO: Graduation rates were palatable?
BRAND: You know, I can’t answer that off the top of my head. At that point people weren’t counting graduation rates accurately and all kinds of numbers and positions were out there and some people counted it one way and some people counted it another and so I don’t know the answer to that. I didn’t have the impression it was particularly bad. Or particularly good. I thought it was average for the Big Ten and the data that I’ve looked at since says it was about average.
SCARPINO: I actually didn’t realize that it was so difficult to calculate graduation rates until I started doing background reading before you when I sat down today and I gather that’s an issue that you faced as president of the NCAA is how to figure it out, how to count it and how to know what it is.
BRAND: No, I think that’s right. One of the things we’ve done I think is clarify that significantly and set up some standard metrics that didn’t exist before.
SCARPINO: When you accepted the position, as President of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, you said the following in an interview. You said, when you came to the Big Ten you had become a little more thoughtful about and studied about questions of academic and athletic reform and those particular issues and then you went on to summarize by saying the issues surrounding Coach Knight were a learning experience for me. Coach Knight’s personality aside, how were the issues surrounding Coach Knight a learning experience for you?
BRAND: Well, I had to understand better the role of student athletes and what pressures they were under and what was expected of them. I had to understand better how the athletic administration and goals fit into the university as a whole. I had to understand better how the publicity and visibility and media attention that athletics received affected the university and how one can manage that and still have an academic institution of integrity. So those weren’t issues that I had thought greatly about. I mean I had sort of common wisdom that university presidents share over a cup of coffee but I didn’t have any significant expertise in it. But I think I started to think hard about those issues while I was before and after engaged in the Knight—and a lot of it had nothing to do with Knight. It’s just that athletics now became of more interest and importance to me.
SCARPINO: January 1st, 2003, you assumed the position of president of the NCAA. I understand that you didn’t apply for the job.
BRAND: I certainly did not. In fact. . .
SCARPINO: So in the end, why did you accept it?
BRAND: Well, you know, it’s an interesting story. We were on vacation at the time, my wife and I—and at that time we had owned a house, a vacation house, in Oregon, and so a letter came and said someone had nominated you for NCAA and I threw it away. I said I don’t know anything about the athletic community. I’m not part of that community and my wife fished it out of the ashcan and said maybe you ought to give this a little thought and she’s usually right about things.
So I gave it a little thought and began to talk to some people about it including the search firm and the more I learned the most interesting it became and then I began to realize that what I’d been thinking about in terms of athletics—and I felt confident that the general lines of thought I had there were effective and correct—that I would be able to realize this on a national level, not just a state level, and that then became exciting to me to see if I can make change, create change, at least in this area on a national level.
SCARPINO: As far as you’re concerned in your position as president, what is the role of the NCAA? What’s its mission?
BRAND: Well, it is to provide unity amongst all our member institutions in terms of athletics and provide guidance in academic affairs that affect student athletes, that there’s a competitive and level playing field amongst institutions that the rules that our members pass are in fact useful and well enforced and to represent the athletic community as a whole to the general population.
SCARPINO: So the NCAA is a regulatory body?
BRAND: It’s a regulatory body and it’s an association.
SCARPINO: It’s like a trade association.
BRAND: It’s like a trade association. It’s a regulatory body. And most importantly it’s an academic association.
SCARPINO: And is it a public relations institution?
BRAND: And it’s a public relations institution.
SCARPINO: And do all those missions fit together?
BRAND: Somewhat uncomfortably but yes. I mean that’s part of the challenge is to, I’ve got a lot of constituents again. [laughing]
SCARPINO: Well, that’s my next question. Who are your constituents?
BRAND: And so, you know, this is a not-for-profit organization, but like a university this kind of not-for-profit organization—and this is exactly in parallel to a university—has to look on the revenue side through sponsorship of events such as the basketball tournaments and corporate relationships and so it creates revenue flows. So not-for-profit organizations, whether they’re hospitals or universities or NCAA, have a business set of objectives and goals and that is to create revenue. What makes it not-for-profit and makes it different from corporations is that all the revenues are used to satisfy the mission of the association and that mission must be in the public good.
That’s why, so it’s the expenditure side that distinguishes not-for-profits, large not-for-profits, from corporations. On the business side, you look a lot like a business. On the revenue side you look a lot like a business and you should. And Indiana University, with the medical side of it included, it was a three or four billion dollar a year operation. You better do that right. I mean that’s not a mom and pop operation and if you don’t do that right then it’s malfeasance. But on the expenditure side in the university it’s for the education of the students, advancing knowledge, helping the public good.
The NCAA is the same thing. We operate in relationship to a media like CBS is our partner in showing the basketball, men’s basketball games. But on the not-for-profit side, on the expenditure side, what we do is we’re a pass-through for these universities so approximately 96% of all the revenue we raised is redistributed to the universities. We run a relatively small national office here. And the money that goes to the universities then is used to support student athletes and it’s used to support the athletic programs.
SCARPINO: So is that a source of scholarship money and salaries of the athletic directors and…?
BRAND: Yes. Exactly. And so they don’t, they obviously get monies from other sources as well—their own contracts with the media and their own participation in bowl games and donors and so on but the NCAA provides a reasonable amount of that resource that’s necessary to run athletics.
SCARPINO: So in addition to university presidents and I assume athletic directors, who are your constituents?
BRAND: On the inside it’s those folks and it’s most especially the student athletes and it’s the coaches and it’s the trainers and it’s everyone else who’s involved in athletics and it’s the athletic administrators and senior women administrators and so on. On the outside, the constituents include media operations like ESPN and CBS, corporate operations like Coca-Cola and many others. I work with leading CEOs of businesses and we have an advisory board. I certainly work with the congress. This isn’t a state operation, it’s a federal operation. I work with the congress and the general public and of course the media. So once again I’ve got inside and outside constituents. More than I can count.
SCARPINO: What are the key leadership challenges for the president of the NCAA?
BRAND: The key element about being president of the NCAA is to understand and realize that you’re part of higher education. This is a higher education institution. We’re not on campus obviously but there are many higher education institutions that aren’t on campus and some of them are located in Washington and some are located elsewhere but we exist for and in higher education and I think that’s the critical element.
SCARPINO: One of the things that I noticed is that you gave your first annual address, I mean I think, you know, you barely got your pencils in your desk [laughing].
BRAND: That’s right.
SCARPINO: It was time to do this, and one of the things that you said at the beginning of that address is my major goal for the next several months is to listen and learn which I’ve learned is a mark of your leadership style so what did you hear in those first several months?
BRAND: You’ll be surprised to learn that the first thing I did is I started a strategic planning operation and we spent the first year doing that and we brought together constituents and groups that hadn’t been talking to each other or to the NCAA national office in the past.
SCARPINO: Such as?
BRAND: Well, different coaches associations. Different national associations—every sport has a national association—we put them in a room for the first time. We put in a room not just the presidents but the coaches. No one had been listening to the coaches. Few would listen to the ADs.
SCARPINO: The athletic directors.
BRAND: Yeah, the athletic directors. So we listened to a lot of people and we brought together a group and one of the things we learned about was there wasn’t sufficient attention being paid to the academic success of student athletes. I took that on as a major issue and frankly, that’s why I was more than happy to take this job, as I see it as supporting student athletes. So we put into place a series of major reforms and academic issues and they’re still playing out but that was a major effort. We looked at the way the relationships with the media and corporate community were with athletics, especially through the NCAA national office and we changed that. We looked at financing college sports and how best to understand that. We put in place data driven/research driven approaches. So I think we took away from those many conversations, needs and frustrations that weren’t being met and tried to realize them.
SCARPINO: What are your—what’s the outline of your reform in terms of student athletes?
BRAND: Student athletes should have every opportunity to graduate from America’s fine universities and colleges and for that they need to be supported but to do that we must also hold those who work with student athletes accountable—the athletic departments including the coaches. And what we did is we took the unit of analysis— instead of being the individual student eligibility standings which were already in place, we took the unit of analysis in these reforms as the team and we said coaches and others want to win. What’s the most important point for them to win? Well, they have to have players and so we said if those players, the students, aren’t doing well academically, we’re going to sanction the team and make it harder for you to win. In fact, if the team’s academic performance is poor, we’re going to take away the ability for you to give athletic scholarships. And without athletic scholarships you can’t recruit players and if you can’t recruit players you can’t win.
So what we did is we used the competitive urge to help coaches and athletic departments understand that they will be sanctioned if the student athletes don’t perform academically. And at the same time we began to involve presidents, faculty members, and others in making sure that all the support activities for the student athletes were in place and all the right measures were in place. We invented two new metrics. A much more accurate graduation rate called graduation success rate. The way the federal government counts, over a third of the students aren’t counted. They’re counted as failures because when you transfer, according to the federal methodology, you’re counted as a failure. But when you look at a campus like IUPUI, half the students transfer in and out and as a result the graduation rate of IUPUI, on the federal way of counting, is abominably low. The point is it’s an inaccurate way of counting.
And so we now have a way of counting in which we give credit for the students who transfer in or transfer out. The federal government hasn’t yet adopted it despite our urging but we do count for student athletes. So we found, for example, that student athletes when you accurately count, are graduating at higher rates than the general student body in every demographic category. African-American male basketball players graduate at higher rates, by an appreciable amount, than the general African-American male student body, and so on. So the student athletes tend to do well, but you’ve got to be careful here. On average they do well, but you still have some problem areas and some schools and programs and particular coaches who aren’t doing as well as we would like, and so that’s why we put in these sanctions.
If we don’t get their attention in terms of taking away scholarships, we will then take stronger steps including keeping them out of tournaments in post-season and eventually decertifying them the ability to play at all in that sport. We not only have graduation rates, which is a six-year measure, we also have semester-by-semester rates to see how well students are doing to assure that they’re on route to graduate.
SCARPINO: How many credits they’re taking, whether they’re making progress toward a degree…?
BRAND: Well, we measure it in terms of retention according and eligibility. Eligibility is an NCAA issue. The retention is a campus issue. So within the campus the student athlete has to do well. We’re not substituting our particular criteria. We’re relying on the criteria for each campus which may be different from campus to campus. But the student athletes have to succeed within that academic environment or otherwise there are punishments. We call it the Academic Performance Rate or APR.
SCARPINO: Is this a change in emphasis for the NCAA?
BRAND: It’s a major change in emphasis. I think what I brought to the NCAA job is a better realization that we are part of higher education and the education of the students come first.
SCARPINO: In that initial president’s address that you gave shortly after you were hired, among the other things that you said, you said, “I’m not revealing any secrets when I note that a primary threat to the integrity of college sports is over-commercialization.”
BRAND: Uh huh.
SCARPINO: What did you mean by that and what’s happening on your watch in that area?
BRAND: I mentioned that it’s important that in athletics you have to look at the revenue side. But you have to create opportunities for the media and for sports fans to observe these games and be entertained by them in a way that keeps it as college sports and doesn’t turn it into professional sports. Some of that’s the look and feel of the game. Some of that are the commercials you permit. I recall a particular case in which one of the beer companies was running an ad that was, frankly disrespectful to women and this particular beer company was an important corporate sponsor and we said no, you can’t run those ads. We’ve turned down other such ads that appear regularly on television because we don’t think it’s appropriate. In all of our championship venues we don’t permit the sale of alcohol or the advertising of alcohol. Many of these sporting events make most of their money from the sale of alcohol.
SCARPINO: So the NCAA screens the advertisements that are shown as a part of the broadcast of its championship. . .
BRAND: Absolutely. We’ve written into all our contracts that we have to approve them before they show.
SCARPINO: Is that a new venture?
BRAND: That is not new but we’ve been strict about it. And that says, “Look we’ll be engaged in the commercial side of sports, but we’re going to do it in a way that’s within the moral values and perspective of the collegiate community.”
SCARPINO: Within the last couple of years one of the issues that’s been associated with the NCAA and your presidency is the issue surrounding the use of mascots with names related to Native Americans and Native American tribes. What were you seeking to accomplish in raising that issue and forbidding some universities from using those names, I gather, in post-season tournament play?
BRAND: See, the NCAA only controls post-season championship play, and even in that area we don’t control it all because the Division 1A Football is independent of us. It’s called the BCS, Bowl Championship Series, but the only area of control we have is, in terms of showing of the games, is in the post-season play and some years ago, several years ago, the NCAA membership took a stand that they will not have any of their championship games where the confederate flag is waved and that was demeaning of African-Americans. And some of our members said yes but we also find demeaning the use of certain Native American mascots and the like and for about five or six years the NCAA conducted research on it and debated it and finally a couple of years ago, about two years ago, and that had started before I came but it reached a conclusion and said that the use of Native American symbols—mascots and names—was demeaning. Almost every, if not every, national Native American group felt that way, the American Psychological Association felt that way and many other groups.
So our members passed some rules that said in our championship games we would not permit the use of those mascots. It’s more complicated in this case than it is in the confederate flag because in the case of Native American mascots we’re dealing with almost 500 sovereign tribes in the country and some of the—small number—but some of the sovereign tribes such as the Florida Seminole tribe, said we prefer to have those symbols used. And even though I and many others in the NCAA may find it offensive that those symbols were being used, we had to defer to the Native American tribes which had, if not legal, at least common sense authority over those symbols.
So it’s a little more complicated in this case and that’s caused some confusion but we have pretty much resolved those issues as just maybe one institution that’s still outstanding in that case but I think we’ve moved away from that and we either, in a very small handful of cases we’ve given permission, based upon the local tribe giving explicit permission to use it. In every other case we’ve said if you want to participate in our championships you’re going to have to stop using those symbols as connected with athletics.
SCARPINO: What do you think have been your, so far today, have been your successes as president of the NCAA?
BRAND: Well, I think I’ve changed the dialogue of the conversation to be much more reflective of higher education issues, most especially the academic success of student athletes. The academic reform has been notable. I think I’ve brought attention to how universities finance and support athletics and how that fits into the general university approach. I think I’ve helped people better understand what’s special about the collegiate model, the collegiate approach to athletics. I think we’ve created more communication and dialogue between major constituents that weren’t talking before. And I also think we’ve improved, frankly, the corporate and business relationships that are necessary to bring in the revenue to help support these programs in our schools.
SCARPINO: Is there anything about your career, your leadership philosophy, that you’d like to add or that I simply wasn’t perceptive enough to ask you?
BRAND: Well, I appreciate the opportunity to talk with you about it and thank you for asking those questions. You know, I always think life’s an adventure and it’s fun to try these new jobs. If I reflected, as I have since this is the second of our conversations, what’s the unifying theme of leadership, it probably has two parts. The first part is to be an aggressive change agent and those changes are not placed upon the organization but drawn out of the organization. So the first, really, is to not be a manager but understand what changes are necessary for the organization in order to move forward its mission. And so being a change agent is important. And the second is to represent the institution with integrity and be accountable for it and be willing to stand up and personally exhibit the strength on behalf of that institution to protect its integrity.
SCARPINO: Well I thank you very much for sharing your thoughts and your time with me and with the recorder and with the Tobias Project.
BRAND: You’re quite welcome.
SCARPINO: We appreciate it very much.