Athletics and Recreation

Bernard Muir, “Stanford Athletics: Setting an Example in a Changing Landscape”

Bernard Muir, “Stanford Athletics: Setting an Example in a Changing Landscape”


[MUSIC PLAYING] [APPLAUSE] I’m just thrilled to
have the opportunity to really talk about
the changing landscape in intercollegiate athletics. And I could tell you that,
boy, the pressure’s mounting, as Present Hennessy said. It is really impressive to
see just the issues that are prevailing. On the back of the
screen here behind me, you’ll see some of the things
that are coming up– one, the question of, should
student athletes be paid? Somebody asked the
question, where is Stanford’s view in the world? Have you seen the Stanford
Magazine article last fall? Raise your hand if you
saw the magazine where President Hennessy took
a stand, saying, look, we’re not going down this path. This is educational mission. It was interesting
the feedback that I got going around a number
of places around the country and having the
opportunity to speak. And they said, Bernard,
you should know, tell President Hennessy
we are behind him. We’re behind them. We’re not with him,
but we’re behind him. [LAUGHTER] But I do think about the costs,
the expenses, the billions of dollars in
intercollegiate athletics, the rise in coaches’ salaries,
the question as to whether, especially right
here at Northwestern, should student
athletes unionized? Should they be part
of a bargaining unit? And obviously, when
we think about where we are in the world, we say, no,
we’re going to stay consistent. Despite all the things
that are going around us, we’re going to stay
true to our mission. And there’s three things. I’ll put it in three buckets
today that I think really exemplifies the Stanford
experience– one, scholar athleticism. I’ll get into that a
little bit later here. Two, we’re going to do
it with distinction. And three, we’re going to be
consistent in our approach. Let me start out with
scholar athleticism. This is some of our football
student athletes at graduation doing their wacky walk. We are proud of 100%
graduation rate, no question. But I’m proud also of who
these people represent. I’ll never forget the
Rose Bowl experience. And many of you were
there in Pasadena. We took the team to what
they call Lawry’s Beef Bowl. And it was an opportunity
for us to really engage with the Rose Bowl committee
and their friends and sponsors. And at this dinner, the
Rose Bowl court was present. And as they were coming in, our
gentleman, the Rose Bowl court sat at the players’ tables. And as they got introduced
and they were announced, they would come in. Our players would get up. And they would sit at our table. And somebody from the
Rose Bowl committee said, I’ve been doing
this for 30 years. I’ve never seen men get up and
knowledge the Rose Bowl court. Did Coach Shaw have
something to do with this? And I said, I’m not sure. I don’t think so. I’ve been around practice. And so after the
event, I said, Coach, did you talk to the team
about the proper etiquette? He says, of course not. They’re Stanford men. And that’s what we’re
talking about, making sure that our student athletes do
what they’re responsible for. [APPLAUSE] But where do we find them? Where do we find great students? It starts from recruiting. It starts from a
global perspective. These dots that you
see on the screen comprise the students
who are wearing the uniform on the farm. And obviously I
highlighted the Midwest. And there’s a student in
particular I want to highlight. His name is Chasson Randle. And he was from Rock
Island, Illinois, a star of our basketball team. If you’ve watched our
team throughout the course of the year, every broadcast
you can count on it. They talk about Chasson Randle
and two other of his teammates who were seniors, who were
not only playing basketball at the high level,
but they’re also getting their master’s degree. In the sport of basketball,
that’s unheard of. But at Stanford, it’s possible. Let me give you a
chance, a quick minute, to get to know Chasson. [VIDEO PLAYBACK] [MUSIC PLAYING] -My first idea was
just to get here and work as hard as I
could in the classroom and on the basketball
court and make sure that I was working towards a degree. -I’ve been leading and
working with Chasson about his senior thesis. He has developed
a project where he is looking at kind
of issues of violence in African American community
and kind of the environments that young people grew up
in that may expose them to violence and whether
or not that affects their involvement in violence. -What I did this summer
was I went back home to a correctional
facility for the youth. And I was just
there to kind of get a feel for where
they wanted to be. And I was also giving
them advice and hope and just talking to them, just
to let them know that someone was thinking about them. -He just seems like
someone who really enjoys basketball but isn’t trying
to take up a lot of space. It’s not about him. He seems like he’s
a team player. [END PLAYBACK] And we are celebrating our 100
years of Stanford basketball. [APPLAUSE] When I think about
our programs, also, we talk about performing
with distinction. Really important
for us that if we’re going to be the model
program, the beacon in college athletics, we have to do
that with remarkable talent and with remaining
humble in our approach. And I put up this slide. This was in my three years
being here on the farm, I will never forget this moment,
watching our women’s water polo team play in Boston. It was a heartbreaking defeat
for us, three overtimes. As you can imagine,
it was gut wrenching. The kids left it in
the pool, if you will. And there were tears. There were hugs. It’s a tough way for our
senior class to go out. And I’ll never forget
Coach Tanner, John Tanner on our program, pulled
me aside on the pool deck and he said, Bernard, the
strangest thing happened. Our junior class took
the second place trophy in the locker room. They brought it out. And many times, schools,
just to be honest with you, in the championship,
if you didn’t win it, you leave your trophy behind. It’s not the right thing to do. But our junior class
took the trophy. And they said,
Coach, you know what? We’re going to take
this back to Palo Alto. We’re going to put this
in our locker room. And it will be a reminder for
us that we will never, ever experience this moment again. Let me show you, fast
forward a little bit. Let me show you what happened. [VIDEO PLAYBACK] [MUSIC PLAYING] -There’s gonna be turbulence. We know that, right? There’s gonna be turbulence. It’s us against the world. We stand together, OK? Stand strong. [MUSIC PLAYING] [END PLAYBACK] Tremendous opportunity for us
to win a national championship against UCLA in the sport
of water polo last year. And this is a picture of
our women’s water polo team accepting the
Director’s Cup, which measures how well you do across
20 sports, 10 men, 10 women’s programs, in the post season. Now, I’m proud to say when
we think about consistency, Stanford has won this trophy
for 20 straight years. How about that, huh? [APPLAUSE] We’re so proud of that fact. It’s pretty remarkable. And we’re standing pretty
right now to win the 21st one as the year unfolds. But somebody reminded
me yesterday, said, Bernard, you know, we had
that 20-straight-year award. That’s a great achievement. But don’t we have this thing
called a national championship that we’ve won for
38 straight years? And have we, by the way, won
the championship yet this year? The answer is no. But you know what? We’ve got the winter
sports under play here. We’ve got the spring sports. And yes, at some point
we’re going to make it. And yes, I’m a little
bit nervous as the AD, because I don’t want to be that
person to break the streak. But the same token,
this resiliency that our student athletes
show, this resiliency that our women’s water polo team
showed, is pretty remarkable. And many times when we talk
about the 20 Director’s Cups, people say, well, you just
won it in Olympic sports. Well, that’s just not true now. That’s not true. Let me give you another example. This chart up here in
the Wall Street Journal measures how well our football
programs across the country in Division I have done. And as you can see
from this chart, basically it’s not only
looking at whether you’re a weakling program or
a powerhouse program. It’s looking at your brand,
whether you were admirable in your approach, whether
graduating student athletes, whether you were
getting in trouble. And I don’t want to point
out– that’s not my nature. I won’t point out programs. But certainly if
you’re a weakling, you don’t want to
end up in this area. [LAUGHTER] All right? No. And you certainly don’t want
to be just a powerhouse, right? You want to be in
the pinnacle position where you’re combining both
the academics and the athletics at the highest degree. And that’s where
Stanford stands. And where does it start? Where does it begin? It starts with the top, right? [APPLAUSE] I’ll never forget the afternoon
when somebody said, oh my gosh, there’s a guy on the main quad
that has these funky glasses. He’s got a box. And he thinks that
he runs the place. Come to find out, he
did run the place. And what’s neat about this,
and why I wanted to put it in, people on our shop here saying,
do you put it in, do you not? I said, I hope he’s out
of the room when I do it. [LAUGHTER] But it’s about having fun. It is fun and games. And that’s really important
for us to keep as a reminder. I think about this, and from
a professional development standpoint, And I’m
talking about my own, I need to move to
the next story. [LAUGHTER] And I finish with this. It is that time of year. This for me is like
the holiday season. It is March Madness. And we have two games today,
one on the women’s side and one on the men’s side. The women are pretty solid. They’re playing in the Pack
12 championship semifinals against Arizona State. The men have some work to do. And we have an opportunity in
Tucson to win a big key game. They’re on that
proverbial bubble. But I will tell you this. I am about to leave here
and head to Indianapolis, because I’m part of a 10-member
selection committee that is actually going to select
the teams and seed the teams and put them in the bracket. And I’m excited about
that opportunity. I really am. [APPLAUSE] Thank you. At the same token, I
will tell you this. Regardless of whether we
appear in that bracket or not, you can be proud of the young
men and women who are going to wear that Cardinal uniform. At the end of
March Madness, they play a theme called
One Shining Moment. And when I think about
Stanford athletics, I think not only of
one shining moment, but I think about the
many moments of excitement that is to come. Thank you very much. Go Cardinal. [MUSIC PLAYING]


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