#parent | #kids | Excerpts from the Times’s Interview with Robert Gates

How so?

I am a strong believer that we need to come up with really significant, meaningful change. I’ve said from the very beginning, I don’t want any part of a process that’s going to tinker at the margins. I would hope that when we put something forward, there will be observers who say, “Wow, I didn’t think they could do that.” We’ll see.

I don’t want to be associated with something that is going to be seen as bringing forth a mouse.

A lot of fans don’t know that the N.C.A.A. has a constitution. They also don’t know about your committee, nor do they really care about it. How can your committee have any effect on how the association is perceived?

Only over the long term. You get a bad reputation over a long period of time, and you can’t turn it around overnight. And I think the key will be, if you want to begin an upturn in perceptions, it starts with the product that we produce and if we get it approved by the association in January. And then over time, people begin to see constructive change. And, first of all, they begin to hear less complaining from members of the association, and then you manage to avoid some of the highly publicized cases where people think that the N.C.A.A. screwed up. And then maybe you also, over time, begin to show enough progress or forward movement that you begin to be able to persuade state legislatures and even members of Congress that we’re headed in the right direction.

There are a number of people who think this is essentially an effort to appease the statehouses and the courts.

Well, my experience over a long period of time is that appeasing legislators is a very challenging task. At least from my standpoint, this is not about politics; it’s about how you fix the freaking organization.

Do you understand the skepticism from people in college sports?

Sure, especially given the history of the association. The only way we can demonstrate that this endeavor has been different is by actually producing something of real consequence.

I’ve heard you talk about the need for a more nimble, speedy, responsive N.C.A.A.

One of my lines is that the words “nimble” and “N.C.A.A.” have never appeared in the same sentence before.

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