ATHENS - Michael Adams is stepping away from an official role in University of Georgia athletics, but not from an official role in the NCAA. And the outgoing UGA president remains as opinionated as ever.
Adams has been appointed to the NCAA's committee on infractions, one of 18 members of a group that will help decide key cases. It's not a great time for the NCAA, which is undergoing heavy criticism for its handling of the Miami case, recently having to postpone a penalty ruling because one of whistleblower Nevin Shapiro's lawyers consulting with the NCAA on the case.
Adams, meeting with several reporters after Tuesday night's UGA athletic board meeting, was asked about the NCAA's problems, as evidenced by the Miami case.
"I think it would be inappropriate for me to comment on any specific case. But I think there's some schools that maybe need to up their game, and there may be some places where the NCAA needs to up its game, as well," Adams said.
By schools upping their game, Adams specified that he meant compliance.
The other big subject at the NCAA level now is how much coaches should be able to contact recruits. The NCAA recently liberalized recruiting contact rules, basically making it legal for coaches to text, e-mail and direct message players all the want. The rules are set to go into effect this summer, but already the Big Ten has protested, and Missouri head football coach Gary Pinkel has said the rules would be disastrous.
Adams also appears to think the new de-regulations may have gone too far.
"I think the jury is still out on some of that," Adams said. "I think some de-regulation on the most ridiculous rules was needed. But a lot of those rules have been put there because of how competitive coaches are. I don't know if you ever have a perfectly level playing field, quote-unquote. But I worry about a student-athlete being bombarded in high school, particularly some who need to spend time studying instead of responding to 100 e-mails per day.
"All of this is a balancing act, and the pendelum can swing too much in one direction - which it probably had, with some ridiculous rules. But it doesn't need to swing all the way back to the other side, or we will hurt student-athletes in the process."
Adams's appointment to the committee on infractions isn't unusual among non-active figures: retired Michigan football coach Lloyd Carr and retired men's basketball coach Bobby Cremins were also appointed to the committee. Adams' term is for three years, and you can be re-elected.
He said, only half-jokingly, he's dreading having to read all the filings and readings that will come across his desk. But he feels passionate about it.
"When I was chair (of the NCAA executive committee) I doubled the enforcement budget and the enforcement staff," Adams said. "I felt it was needed for a whole host of reasons."
And years later, it apparently still is.
Some other notes from the discussion with Adams:
- The subject of regulating the staff size of football programs - in other words, the amount of off-field, quality-control type coaches - has been a hot one recently. Adams said he proposed limiting the non-coaching staff positions "in certain sports," but it was voted down.
"I haven't changed my view," Adams said. "It's all about balance. You don't control this. But you manage it. You can't control it all, but you can manage it, and we'll see where some of it goes.
- Adams is comfortable with what UGA has done to provide the football program with the financial means to success. He made the point when asked about the renewed confidence in the direction of the team.
"Winning helps everything," he said, with a laugh. "I think there's confidence in the building blocks that are in place here. Look at the facilities, look at the practice fields, look at the stadium additions, look at what we've done to be competitive with assistant coaches. (We) may not be the top in every little category, but across the board I'm not sure anybody provides any more total support than we do. ... One of the things I'm proud about is you build great programs brick-by-brick and stone-by-stone over a period of time."
Then Adams made the point that continuity in coaching has been important. He listed Jack Buerle in swimming, Chris Haack in golf, the tennis coaches, and Andy Landers in women's basketball. Mark Richt is entering his 13th season at Georgia.
"I don't know many places, if any, that have that many head coaches, with those length of tenures. And that's something that we've worked at," Adams said. "And of course Mark is far and away the dean of football coaches, just as I've been for several years now the longest-serving person in this role (as an SEC president). My own view is ultimately all of that benefits an institution."
- Adams said he's also had other schools reach out to him to see about consulting on the relationship between athletics and academics.
"I don't wanna be a headhunter, I don't wanna be on a plane every day," he said. "But in certain select sets of circumstances if I can help somebody I probably will."