Dec. 19, 2003
Columbia, Mo. -
This has certainly been a very unique and challenging time in the Athletic Department at the University of Missouri. While there are so very many exciting things happening with our student-athletes and our sports, the NCAA investigation into our Men's Basketball program and recorded telephone conversations that have surfaced as a result have dominated the news. We have continually noted that the Athletic Department is the "front porch" to the institution, and it is always our intent to focus positive attention toward Mizzou. That has not been the case recently.
The NCAA investigation into our Men's Basketball program has been an ongoing process for the past 5 months, and we envision that continuing for the next few months into 2004. We have worked very closely with the NCAA to review all of the procedures surrounding our program, to investigate allegations and to ensure proper compliance. The review team from Mizzou, headed by Mike Devaney, a professor of Electrical Engineering, has been working collaboratively with the NCAA and will be doing so through the conclusion. Dr. Devaney is joined on that review team by Dr. Carl Settergren, Faculty Athletics Representative, Bill Arnett, Associate General Counsel, Sarah Reesman, Associate Athletic Director for Student Services and Mary Austin, Assistant Athletic Director for Compliance. This review team has been very diligent in its comprehensive review of the program, and has worked "hand in hand" with the NCAA staff throughout the entire process.
While it had been noted by the NCAA that they had hoped to have the review completed in December, it will take a little more time to complete. We in no way want to sacrifice the quality and substance of the review for expediency. It is our hope to have this completed in the not too distant future. Once the review is complete, be assured that we will share all of our findings with the public. This is a very challenging process which I do believe in the long run will strengthen our basketball program and our department.
Recorded telephone conversations which took place and were made public have been surprising and in my opinion embarrassing to a number of people and to those of us at the University of Missouri. While it can be assumed that parties involved most likely felt that these were private conversations, they have been made very public. The public nature of these conversations has caused expansive dialogue and opinions from a wide variety of people.
I have been asked the question repeatedly by various people over the last week or more about my personal feelings. I have been very consistent in saying that I have a tremendous amount of respect for the ability of people to express their opinions and to be passionate about that expression. While I may not agree with what was said on the reported conversations, I support the ability for people to voice their opinions. However, I've been very open about recognizing that it is important for us to be "neutral to positive" with regard to our comments. If we have concerns about issues, we should find a way to express those concerns in a positive manner and also try to recommend a solution. We also have to hope that people that make comments or complaints have some solid knowledge base of the topic area, which did not necessarily seem to be the case on these telephone calls. Nonetheless, there is no animosity held by our department or me toward these folks due to these conversations. We just need to keep moving forward in a positive direction.
We are so very proud of the accomplishments of our program academically, socially and competitively. We recognize that these occurrences have reflected negatively on all of us, and for that we are truly sorry. We will continue to operate a program with class and integrity, and as we build for even further successes, we will learn from whatever mistakes might have been made to be a stronger department. Our continual goal is to reflect the tremendous student body, faculty, staff, alumni and friends and the quality of research and education that we provide to the State of Missouri and beyond.
We wish all of you a most joyful Holiday Season. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me at 573-882-2055 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.