You know what’s rich? Here’s what’s rich. Mike Krzyzewski, coach of Duke, lamenting that Maryland will now be “outsiders” in the Big Ten.
Because, whether or not K is correct, for many decades Terps fans have complained about being outsiders in the Tobacco Road-obsessed ACC. So if you want to empathize with the fears of Maryland fans, that is an odd approach to take.
This discussion came on Krzyzewski’s SiriusXM radio show, “Basketball and Beyond.” And it followed a news report on the show by Chris Spatola, who argued that Maryland’s decision to leave the ACC was made by men who were relative newcomers to College Park, and thus lacked an appreciation for the tradition of the ACC.
“What Chris brings up is an important aspect of this,” Coach K then said. “A lot of these decisions are based on college presidents, chancellors and athletic directors who do not have a depth of understanding of the tradition of the institutions that they are leading, the athletic programs of the institutions that they are leading. And they’re making what I call current business decisions, without the knowledge of what they’re giving up for what they think they’re going to make.
“If you’re running a business for a long time, you would be interested primarily in what is your brand,” Krzyzewski continued. “For us, we have a good brand at Duke University, but we also have a good brand because we’ve been in the ACC. We benefit from that brand. And people who have gone to school here, played sports here, they are not only Duke people; they’re ACC people.
“And when you give that up, what price is that?” he asked. “What does that do? The fact that they’ll never be a Duke-Maryland game again. There may never be a Texas-Texas A&M game again, a Syracuse-Georgetown game again. Those schools aren’t gonna schedule one another. I mean, that’s not gonna happen. And in Maryland’s case, that’s the only conference they’ve known. And they’re right in the middle of the ACC. And now their fans, they don’t have a place. They’re outsiders. They really are outsiders. What price? What price is paid for that?”
Would you like more from Krzyzewski on Maryland’s decision? Here’s more.
“They didn’t get public opinion from their alums, from the people there,” he later said. “All these things are secret. It’s not out there. Some of it gets leaked, but in Maryland’s case it was never leaked. I’m really worried about that type of thinking. Kevin White, our athletic director, said that you get people who make these decisions who will be in those positions for a few more years, and then they go. They may not stay at that school. They’re gonna go maybe to a school that they’ve been to before, or retire, or whatever. They don’t have to live with that decision.
“It’s like throwing a rock into a pond,” Coach K said. “There’s this big splash. They make a big splash, like we’re gonna make all this money, and then there’s all these ripples. And what are those ripples? Well, I don’t care about the ripples. They’re not even thinking about the ripples. They’re thinking about making that big splash. I wonder if some of this is egotism. I mean, ego and greed have something to do with it, but there’s not a big perspective here.
“Every conference is kind of like it’s own country, and you’re trying to annex these different areas, and there’s nobody looking at all of the countries together,” he continued. “Like, the NCAA — that’s supposed to be our country. There’s no conclusion to this. When there’s no point that we’re trying to get to, then each entity is going to keep grabbing. There’s no feeling for the other guy, for another conference. Forget about them; we got ours. Well, I don’t know, that’s not what intercollegiate athletics is about.”
Look, I don’t know what intercollegiate athletics is about for sure, but part of it — like, the part that helped get Coach K a national radio show — is definitely about money. And so when I hear this, I’m not thinking about ripples or annexed countries or brand loyalty.
“This is an assault on tradition,” Krzyzewski said. “What sets us apart from the pros? What sets us apart from the rest of the world? Intercollegiate sports is really something that only the United States has. No other country has that. And our thing is based on all the right values: loyalty, honesty, tradition. The branding that you have gotten from doing that has elevated the academic institutions that those athletic programs represent. And doing things the way we’re doing it now, based on money, I think it takes away from the academic missions and the innocence that an academic institution has.”