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NCAA's Emmert says firings a sign of progress

NEW YORK -- NCAA President Mark Emmert found one bit of good news in all the bad that has rocked college sports and cost several big-name coaches their jobs.

"I encourage you to be attentive to something that was positive in all those scandals in a sense that it really demonstrated a sea change in responsibility," Emmert said Friday.

"If 14 months ago we had said this next cycle we will watch the firing of the head coaches of Ohio State, Penn State, North Carolina, Tennessee basketball, Arkansas -- all fabulously successful coaches on the floor and on the field -- to see those five men fired for misdeeds, not for failures on the court or on the field, none of us would have believed it.

"I sure wouldn't have thought that was possible," said Emmert during a meeting with Associated Press Sports Editors.

Coaches such as Joe Paterno (Penn State), Jim Tressel (Ohio State), Bobby Petrino (Arkansas), Butch Davis (North Carolina) and Bruce Pearl (Tennessee) in the past had been considered "untouchable," Emmert said.

"You're seeing boards of directors, of trustees, and presidents and athletic directors saying 'You know you've done a great job here. We love you. We pay you really well. You get all this adoration. You've got to live by the rules.'

"And that's a good thing."

Emmert also said transfer rules are too complex and need to be changed, and he added NBA rules that have led to one-and-done men's basketball players make it "hard with a straight face to say these are student-athletes."

The rules that allow coaches to restrict if and where Division I basketball players and major college football players can transfer have been drawn into the spotlight by several recent cases in which the student-athletes seemed to be unfairly restrained.

Emmert said transfer rules that allow coaches to dictate a player's future can make college sports look like pro sports to fans.

"My biggest concern though, frankly, isn't the optics of it but whether it's fair or not to the young men and young women," he said. "What's the rationale for constraining someone to move from school to school?"

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