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A big idea to alleviate scandals in college basketball: Educate

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 18: Head coach Willis WIlson of the Texas A&M-CC Islanders looks on during a college basketball game against the Georgetown Hoyas at the Verizon Center on November 18, 2014 in Washington, DC. The Hoyas won 78-62. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Willis Wilson

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 18: Head coach Willis WIlson of the Texas A&M-CC Islanders looks on during a college basketball game against the Georgetown Hoyas at the Verizon Center on November 18, 2014 in Washington, DC. The Hoyas won 78-62. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Willis Wilson

Willis Wilson is the head coach at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

Mitchell Layton Getty Images North America

In the modern world of college basketball, many people and organizations are making a lot of money off young athletes, but the return for those young people far too often is negligible. Experience is the best teacher, and there are a lot of good people at great institutions that are learning lessons the hard way, but that doesn't have to be the case.

Having been in this business the better part of 30 years, I am not naive to the fact that there are some bad apples. There certainly are, but for far too long we have become numb in our response when we should instead be proactive.

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If an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, then it's time for new measures to be taken. For NCAA schools, it means doing more of what you were put there to do originally: Educate. Our institutions of higher education, from the president, to administrators, athletic directors and coaches, must begin to take seriously the responsibility of educating our student-athletes in a way that is in alignment with the age we live in.

The behavior that has riddled the headlines in scandals has infiltrated the pros and trickled down to the high school level, a concerning trend. Assault, domestic violence, shortcutting and cheating --€“ some of the behaviors behind college athletics' recent negative publicity --€“ are condemned at every level. Yet, we do not take the time at the college level to teach techniques or strategies to deal with such things in a preventative way, and that could be the solution to ridding the problem in the pros. We must begin to implement a plan to account for the development of coaches, support staff and administrators who are responsible for educating college basketball players on and off the court.

Four-point plan for change

I. Require three to five days of annual professional development for all coaches and staff with sports-specific responsibilities taught by professors, industry professionals, NCAA staff and master coaches (a certified coach with more than 20 years of experience). Create a set of industry standards to aspire toward and help with decision-making. Provide information ranging from sports psychology to nutrition, theory, strategy, ethics, relationship building and teaching strategies. Also provide instruction on NCAA rules and procedures along with industry discussion topics. This will make it clear to coaches what our responsibilities are.

II. Two-day retreat for first-time head coaches and seminars for first-time assistants. Head coaches are hired because they know the game, but a first-time head coach usually does not have experience in dealing with presidents, boosters, academic program development, media, parents, etc. Having required information sessions early in the new hire's tenure with experienced individuals to address and provide strategies on how to deal with such things is an investment every university should make. Similarly, first-time assistants should be armed with equally pertinent information when becoming a full-time coach.

III. Consult industry experts who have the greatest insight into identifying qualified potential ADs and head coaches. Only recently has the media begun to question the validity of search-firm hires. More important than outside assistance, a school has to really know itself to hire who they need. Good decision-makers know that the athletic portion of the program is paramount. The industry has become too much about aesthetics and results, and not enough about the process of building/maintaining a winner while educating. Having an AD who can coach coaches, lead administrators and teach support staff can be accomplished by putting people in place with industry knowledge and experience. Fundraising and business knowledge does not trump all. The best leaders work at helping their coaches succeed first. Their staffs provide ancillary support. A successful department is run as a franchise, not just a business.

IV. Create a curriculum for student-athletes comprised of college-level courses that have a practical application to their sports experience as well as collegiate is the most significant thing schools can do. This course work would be designed to promote healthy behaviors and avoid detrimental behaviors. Truth be told, there are an unlimited number of courses that would be beneficial in a variety of ways. Providing student-athletes the opportunity to learn subject matters that directly pertain to their current experience will engage them to be more focused as both students and athletes and stimulate their desire to learn more. Provide a liberal arts education with classes that fall under psychology, sociology, business, kinesiology, history, criminal justice and more. The list of beneficial course work would include but not be limited to: learning styles/competitive styles, intimate relationships and professional relationships, finance, nutrition, sport history, ethics and public speaking.

Addressing the issues in college athletics is no easy chore. I don't have all the answers, especially given the ever-changing landscape. What I do have is a strong belief in what educating can accomplish. Ultimately, leadership involves having the ability to teach people, create a vision, share the vision and put a plan in place to achieve our goals.

Questions we should ask are: Who and how are our coaches being developed? Do they know what the university expects from them? What are the coaches and educators conscientiously teaching our players to prepare them for life beyond basketball? Do we all know where the line is between competition and education?

Everyone's ultimate goal should be the prevention of poor decision-making that produces bad behavior, the placement of real-time focus on overall development and becoming more engaged in education. It may not eliminate every scandal, but it just might arm everyone to make better decisions and prevent their mistakes from negatively affecting innocent members of the program and university. After all, we are each living and striving at a place of higher education.

Willis Wilson is the head coach of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi men's basketball program and Rice basketball's all-time leader in wins, whose experience in college athletics spans nearly four decades in a variety of roles from player, to assistant and head coach of more than 580 games at the Division I level.

In the modern world of college basketball, many people and organizations are making a lot of money off young athletes, but the return for those young people far too often is negligible. Experience is the best teacher, and there are a lot of good people at great institutions that are learning lessons the hard way, but that doesn't have to be the case.

Having been in this business the better part of 30 years, I am not naive to the fact that there are some bad apples. There certainly are, but for far too long we have become numb in our response when we should instead be proactive.

If an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, then it's time for new measures to be taken. For NCAA schools, it means doing more of what you were put there to do originally: Educate. Our institutions of higher education, from the president, to administrators, athletic directors and coaches, must begin to take seriously the responsibility of educating our student-athletes in a way that is in alignment with the age we live in.

The behavior that has riddled the headlines in scandals has infiltrated the pros and trickled down to the high school level, a concerning trend. Assault, domestic violence, shortcutting and cheating --€“ some of the behaviors behind college athletics' recent negative publicity --€“ are condemned at every level. Yet, we do not take the time at the college level to teach techniques or strategies to deal with such things in a preventative way, and that could be the solution to ridding the problem in the pros. We must begin to implement a plan to account for the development of coaches, support staff and administrators who are responsible for educating college basketball players on and off the court.

Four-point plan for change

I. Require three to five days of annual professional development for all coaches and staff with sports-specific responsibilities taught by professors, industry professionals, NCAA staff and master coaches (a certified coach with more than 20 years of experience). Create a set of industry standards to aspire toward and help with decision-making. Provide information ranging from sports psychology to nutrition, theory, strategy, ethics, relationship building and teaching strategies. Also provide instruction on NCAA rules and procedures along with industry discussion topics. This will make it clear to coaches what our responsibilities are.

II. Two-day retreat for first-time head coaches and seminars for first-time assistants. Head coaches are hired because they know the game, but a first-time head coach usually does not have experience in dealing with presidents, boosters, academic program development, media, parents, etc. Having required information sessions early in the new hire's tenure with experienced individuals to address and provide strategies on how to deal with such things is an investment every university should make. Similarly, first-time assistants should be armed with equally pertinent information when becoming a full-time coach.

III. Consult industry experts who have the greatest insight into identifying qualified potential ADs and head coaches. Only recently has the media begun to question the validity of search-firm hires. More important than outside assistance, a school has to really know itself to hire who they need. Good decision-makers know that the athletic portion of the program is paramount. The industry has become too much about aesthetics and results, and not enough about the process of building/maintaining a winner while educating. Having an AD who can coach coaches, lead administrators and teach support staff can be accomplished by putting people in place with industry knowledge and experience. Fundraising and business knowledge does not trump all. The best leaders work at helping their coaches succeed first. Their staffs provide ancillary support. A successful department is run as a franchise, not just a business.

IV. Create a curriculum for student-athletes comprised of college-level courses that have a practical application to their sports experience as well as collegiate is the most significant thing schools can do. This course work would be designed to promote healthy behaviors and avoid detrimental behaviors. Truth be told, there are an unlimited number of courses that would be beneficial in a variety of ways. Providing student-athletes the opportunity to learn subject matters that directly pertain to their current experience will engage them to be more focused as both students and athletes and stimulate their desire to learn more. Provide a liberal arts education with classes that fall under psychology, sociology, business, kinesiology, history, criminal justice and more. The list of beneficial course work would include but not be limited to: learning styles/competitive styles, intimate relationships and professional relationships, finance, nutrition, sport history, ethics and public speaking.

Addressing the issues in college athletics is no easy chore. I don't have all the answers, especially given the ever-changing landscape. What I do have is a strong belief in what educating can accomplish. Ultimately, leadership involves having the ability to teach people, create a vision, share the vision and put a plan in place to achieve our goals.

Questions we should ask are: Who and how are our coaches being developed? Do they know what the university expects from them? What are the coaches and educators conscientiously teaching our players to prepare them for life beyond basketball? Do we all know where the line is between competition and education?

Everyone's ultimate goal should be the prevention of poor decision-making that produces bad behavior, the placement of real-time focus on overall development and becoming more engaged in education. It may not eliminate every scandal, but it just might arm everyone to make better decisions and prevent their mistakes from negatively affecting innocent members of the program and university. After all, we are each living and striving at a place of higher education.

Willis Wilson is the head coach of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi men's basketball program and Rice basketball's all-time leader in wins, whose experience in college athletics spans nearly four decades in a variety of roles from player, to assistant and head coach of more than 580 games at the Division I level.