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Volume 24 No. 114
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IMG World Congress Of Sports: Duncan Calls On Sports Industry To Help Dropout Rate

U.S. Secretary of Education ARNE DUNCAN is calling on the sports industry to take a more active role in helping to reduce the country's high-school dropout rate. Speaking at the '14 IMG World Congress of Sports in Dana Point, Calif., Duncan said that athletes, teams and leagues should play a bigger part, given their influence on popular culture. "What I, frankly, am going to challenge people to do is to get beyond the one-offs -- to get beyond the photo ops -- and to get beyond the few tickets for a few kids and the autograph sessions," Duncan said. "Those are all nice. But for me, that's not meaningful change." Duncan said the Education Department is prepared to partner with sports groups to help the country's worst performing schools, adding that the education department is investing $500M each year in these schools. He said he is looking for help with after-school programs and community groups that help schools. He highlighted Heat assistant coach JUWAN HOWARD’s work in Chicago, where Howard runs a summer basketball camp that combines basketball with academics. "If you look at all the young boys of color -- whether it's the NFL, NBA, soccer -- these are their heroes,” said Duncan. “These are their role models. These are the teams that they spend all their time thinking about. I want us to be much more strategic, much more proactive and much more focused telling our young boys that they cannot drop out of high school."

Quick hits:

* On being named MVP of the NBA's All-Star celebrity game during All-Star Weekend last month: "This was not real basketball. This was against SNOOP DOGG."

* On NCAA reforms: "I thought the idea that some of the teams were going to postseason tournaments with graduation rates that were horrendous was absolutely irresponsible. We got the NCAA to raise the bar for participation in NCAA tournaments and we felt very, very good about that."

* On Bulls coach TOM THIBODEAU: "He was my assistant coach in college (at Harvard). I strongly encouraged [Bulls Chair JERRY REINSDORF] to hire him. I hope Jerry is (happy with the hire)."