Monthly Archives: May 2015

How Walter Byers built, fought, lost, and wrote

Byers in 1986. (AP: Cliff Schiappa)

Byers in 1986. (AP: Cliff Schiappa)

Longtime NCAA executive director Walter Byers passed away this week at the age of 93, and his New York Times obituary says that late in his career “he viewed the college sports landscape with increasing cynicism.” Granted I never spoke to the man — as near as I can tell no one did on the record after about 1997 — but I must say this strikes me as incorrect.

Anywhere that lawyers gather to contest the future form and very existence of the NCAA in 2015, there are two histories of college sports close at hand. (Literally.) Taylor Branch wrote one, of course, and Byers authored the other, in 1995.

Both histories were written in anger. Branch will tell you he’s angry that oligopolists are piously mouthing empty platitudes about amateurism while maintaining a cartel that allows them to profit off the sweat of young brows. Byers, conversely, wrote what on the surface is a far more conventional post-retirement jeremiad. At the age of 73 he yelled at a cloud, and did so at some length. Continue reading

The 30-second clock’s a long-overdue solution to a problem we may not have

The last time any adjustment was made to the shot clock, Glenn Robinson was the reigning player of the year. It's been a long time coming.

The last time an adjustment was made to the shot clock was in 1994, when Glenn Robinson was the reigning player of the year. It’s been a while.

Last week the NCAA’s rules committee exceeded my loftiest expectations. Not only did the group recommend the adoption of a 30-second shot clock, it also:

  • Eliminated one second-half timeout
  • Enlarged the restricted area under the basket
  • Made any bench timeout called in close proximity to a scheduled media stoppage the “media timeout” all by itself (no more “bench timeout, four seconds of action, media timeout” sequences)
  • Gave officials the authority to review potential shot-clock violations on made field goals throughout the game
  • Prohibited coaches from calling live-ball timeouts
  • Enabled refs to call personals on players who on replay are found to have faked fouls
  • Reduced the penalty for class B technical fouls (e.g., hanging on the rim) to just one free throw
  • Ended the prohibition on dunking in pregame warmups.

That sound you heard on Friday was Twitter laboring mightily to wield its surgically implanted torches and pitchforks in the face what by any reasonable measure was a rather disconcerting overabundance of wish fulfillment. (How the NCAA can broadcast so much common sense in the span of but a few minutes while also keeping the RPI hooked to life support into a fourth decade is surely a quandary worthy of our finest organizational anthropologists.)  Continue reading