Sportsmanship hot topic at coaches' conference

The Associated Press

HOUSTON The National Association of Basketball Coaches started the discussion about sportsmanship long before its issues summit began here yesterday.

The organization's publication, "Courtside," had a full-page color cover photo of two coaches shaking hands with the headline: "Sportsmanship. A quest to restore college basketball's good name."

The headline was brought up a few times in the 90-minute session on sportsmanship and ethical conduct.

"I have a problem with the headline on our publication," Air Force coach Reggie Minton said. "It should say retain not restore our sport's good name."

Taunting, fighting and crowd conduct and control all were brought up and discussed, but Minton was the speaker who summed it up for the coaches and administrators in attendance.

"Everybody better understand sportsmanship is part of your job, no one else's," he said. "It is common sense, good taste, bench decorum, all those things. You must demand, expect and set certain goals and take nothing less just as you would on the court."

The issues summit was the second held by the NABC and the first attended by its black members as the Black Coaches Association called for a boycott of the inaugural meeting in Charlotte, N.C. The leadership of the BCA met instead with the Black Congressional Caucus to voice displeasure over the loss of a scholarship and academic entrance requirements based on standardized test scores.

Initial eligibility will be a session topic Wednesday and it's expected to be well-attended and heated.

"We will have a written position on initial eligibility," NABC executive director Jim Haney said. "It's a subject that the organization feels strongly about."

Missing from the discussion on sportsmanship was any mention on coach vs. coach behavior. It seemed logical it would come up following a season that saw a number of confrontations between coaches repeated over and over again on highlight shows.

"I was surprised it didn't come up and I was surprised the role of officials wasn't addressed," Haney said. "This is a topic that has so much gray area. I was waiting for an administrator to bring up the subject of coaches but it never did. We will go back and draft a game management manual with recommendations in these areas."

Duke's Mike Krzyzewski is afraid too many rules and regulations could make too much of a difference.

"When we draw the lines who determines them?" he asked. "We have a very emotional game and at times people do go to extremes. At times there will be mistakes and you have to be sure you don't go to extremes of punishment and take away that emotion."

Ohio Valley Conference commissioner Dan Bebe went over his league's three-page document of sportsmanship that covers everything from even-handed public address announcers to one-game suspensions for coaches if their players leave the bench to join a fight.

"We are challenging what has unfortunately has been accepted in American culture and that is that you should create a hostile enviroment at a ballgame," Bebe said. "We feel what happens is in the coach's hands and they are responsible."

Eastern Michigan president Bill Shelton wants the blame to be shared.

"No one group can be responsible, we have to share the responsibility. That's the only way," he said. "We can look at it as insurmountable problem or an exciting opportunity for intercollegiate athletics. We have to start taking control and uphold our values."

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