SBJ/January 29 - February 4, 2001/This Weeks Issue

Having listened, Knight panel will talk

The Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics heard from representatives of shoe companies, major television networks and individuals involved in pending anti-gambling legislation last week to assess the influence of money on college sports.

Individuals who spoke at the meeting, held in Washington, D.C., included Sonny Vacarro, executive director of sports for Adidas USA; Mike Aresco, Loren Matthews and John Wildhack, the senior vice presidents of programming at CBS Sports, ABC Sports and ESPN, respectively; Kevin Pendergast, a former student athlete at Notre Dame who was involved in a point-shaving ring; Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., a sponsor of anti-gambling legislation; and Frank Fahrenkopf, the president of the American Gaming Association.

The meeting was the last of four hearings for the Knight Commission.

The panel will next assess the testimony of the close to 40 individuals who spoke during the hearings and issue a set of reform recommendations, said William Friday, president emeritus of the University of North Carolina and co-chairman of the Knight Commission.

"What's interesting is that not a single person that we have heard from has said all is well in intercollegiate athletics," Friday said. "So our plan will be to develop a list of specific points of study that have to be dealt with and then help create an independent body of national leaders who can carry out our recommendations."

Friday said the Knight Commission's recommendations should be completed by May.

The Knight Commission is a panel of 28 leaders from the education, business and sports industries. The commission originally was launched by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in 1990 and assessed and proposed reforms for intercollegiate athletics that included a restructured system that called for more oversight by university presidents. The NCAA adopted many of those ideas.

The commission decided to reconvene last year to reassess the industry and propose further reform recommendations.

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