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Originally published April 20, 2012 at 8:49 PM | Page modified April 20, 2012 at 10:50 PM

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NCAA President Mark Emmert sees silver lining in scandals | College athletics

NCAA President Mark Emmert has found one bit of good news in all the bad that has rocked college sports and cost several big-name coaches their jobs. "I encourage you to be attentive to something that was positive in all those scandals in a sense that it really demonstrated a sea change in responsibility," he said.

The Associated Press

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NEW YORK — NCAA President Mark Emmert has found one bit of good news in all the bad that has rocked college sports and cost several big-name coaches their jobs.

"I encourage you to be attentive to something that was positive in all those scandals in a sense that it really demonstrated a sea change in responsibility," Emmert said.

Emmert, previously the University of Washington president, made his comments Friday during a meeting with Associated Press Sports Editors.

"If 14 months ago ... we had said this next cycle we will watch the firing of the head coaches of Ohio State, Penn State, North Carolina, Tennessee basketball, Arkansas — all fabulously successful coaches on the floor and on the field — to see those five men fired for misdeeds, not for failures on the court or on the field, none of us would have believed it," Emmert said.

"I sure wouldn't have thought that was possible."

Coaches such as Joe Paterno (Penn State football), Jim Tressel (Ohio State football), Bobby Petrino (Arkansas football), Butch Davis (North Carolina football) and Bruce Pearl (Tennessee basketball) in the past had been considered "untouchable," Emmert said.

Emmert said, "You're seeing boards of directors, of trustees, and presidents and athletic directors saying, 'You know you've done a great job here. We love you. We pay you really well. You get all this adoration. You've got to live by the rules.' And that's a good thing."

Emmert also said transfer rules are too complex and need to be changed.

Rules that allow coaches to restrict if and where Division I basketball players and major-college football players can transfer have been drawn into the spotlight by recent cases in which the student-athletes seemed to be unfairly restrained.

Emmert noted NBA rules that have led to one-and-done men's basketball players make it "hard with a straight face to say these are student-athletes" and said he would like the league to go back to allowing players to be drafted out of high school.

Emmert said he doesn't think the NBA rule requiring players to be at least 19 years old and one year removed from high-school graduation works well for college basketball.

"I don't like the notion an athlete, a young man, would come to us and see us not as a being a student at a university that is playing a sport, but as a necessary step that they've got to touch that bag before they move on," he said. "I think that makes it extremely hard with a straight face to say these are student-athletes."

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