A response to NCAA President, Mark A. Emmert (193-attached below) 1

Below is a letter to me that states the position of NCAA President Mark A. Emmert on international athletes in American college athletics. And I agree with the content. However, I believe there is another tenable side to this issue. Therefore, in addition to President Emmert letter, I have shared what I believe is another salient side to the issue.

NCAA-Emmert-Letter.jpeg

Dr. Mark Emmert
President, NCAA
PO Box 6222
Indianapolis, Indiana  46206

Dear Dr. Emmert,

I am appreciative of your letter of March 15, 2017. Earlier this winter I had a long conversation with Timothy Russell , CEO of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA).   I have also pled my case to Paul Lubbers of USTA player development, the Southern district of USTA, (STA) and the North Carolina Tennis Association (NCTA).

And have done so with countless others since 1970. Your response ensures that I have been heard at our highest levels and that is truly fair.

Approaching age 77 with fifty years of coaching, teaching and administering in two small (Barton College) to mid size Division 1 (Elon University), I have watched this issue closely, and while I fully agree with diversity and inclusion and equitable participation, there seems to be more to the issue.

My teams rosters included fifty plus internationals. From about a dozen different countries. Roland Thornqvist, women’s tennis coach at the University of Florida just won the women’s D1 National team tennis indoor title, owning a handful of national titles. I recruited Roland to the USA and he is probably best known of my recruits who are in the athletics arena and have stayed in the country. No less known in the world of orthopedic surgery in America is Dr. Pramote Malisitt, a native of Bangkok, who remains in our country. Dr. Peter Lindstrom, is one of twenty nine Swedes whom I recruited, and who is nationally known as a vital computer expert with our defense department. Neither our schools, nation, nor I would wish they weren’t here.

Never have I suggested we shouldn’t have delved into internationals then or now. But it seems to me to be a half full/half empty issue. Not once have I ever said an international should be prohibited from participation. Or equal admittance. The elephant in the room is scholarships. Never have I suggested internationals should be exempt from a reasonable amount of money. I do believe that the NCAA has a legal right to provide aid to our citizens first. One link to follow allows that about 200 million American dollars go into international men and women tennis players.

Many parents and taxpayers question all foreign rosters, all with grants and many from state schools. (See enclosed latest rankings from Division II) I wouldn’t object to an all international team in any sport if they paid the bill. But to scholarship an all African team, rather than an African American team is bothersome, to say the least. What we have now is foreign aid, not trade. Not once in the many times I asked any international , “Would your native country do what we do?” was the answer yes. And the money is coming from the coffers of the only reasonable financial return for all the expenses encountered: Scholarships. Scholarships can easily amount to a quarter million dollars per student ,over four years. Not to mention the subsequent benefits of quality education. I don’t even mention the rarity of professional player rewards, as we all know the status of American elite players. That is another issue, but giving American college tennis to internationals via disproportionate scholarship is directly related to this demise (again link to follow).

Basketball, golf, and other international sports are making forays into the American college arena. As a young coach I quickly realized if they have a nuclear weapon or two, I had better find some to help me keep my job. This is true today. Witness Duke University’s meteoric rise in Women’s golf. Surely young coaches watched an all international roster ascend to the top. Is this the intent of Title IX for our women? The American college system is the best system in the world to train elite athletes. The best example is surely Women’s Soccer.

Soccer, the most widely played sport in the world ,has never been won by American men. Yet, since the advent of Title IX our women have won three world cups in soccer. All twenty three women were participants in American College Soccer. And I’d bet they all had scholarships. Some one asked me where was the national training center for women on the world cup team? Chapel Hill, I replied. (Anson Dorance’s UNC teams had six of the twenty three players). And his teams influenced all the rest.

Upon accepting the job at Elon University, the then president admonished me, “… we don’t want an all foreign team!” After ten years that included a national team championship, I was concerned that a walk-on international was good enough to shift our team balance to more than 50% international for the first time. A decided shift in attitude was “ Coach we’ve decided that we don’t care where they are from if they are the quality of people you’ve been recruiting.”

And, while this validates your position, I believe a compromise is the answer.

My internationals returned home at about a 90% rate. That money may have brought in any number of our own citizens, equal in every way, except talent in tennis, as a true 18 year old freshman . (see DAY DREAM BELIEVER) on addendum to follow. Without scholarship aid for many American tennis youngsters, the “…pathway to opportunity” does not currently exist.

I have shared a few opinions, mine and others, on Addendum 1.

I intend to include a copy of your letter, and valid position to several interested parties. Knowing I have had my say, I remain sincerely grateful.

Tom Parham

THE MOREL LETTER (116) 2

April 14, 1992
I.T.C.A. P.O. Box 71 Princeton, NJ 08544 Gentlemen:
I have recently learned that the I.T.C.A. has taken the position that any regulation of foreign tennis players is prohibited by law. I have thoroughly researched and reviewed the law regarding this issue and wish to inform you that the law does not prohibit such regulation.
If your association has legal counsel, I’m confident that he is full conversant with the law of the higher education, and specifically, that as it pertains to intercollegiate athletics. I encourage you to confer with your counsel on this very important issue. If he does not concur with my opinion, or if you do not have legal counsel, I am readily available to discuss this issue with you or him by telephone, or, if need be, in person. Moreover, I am willing to provide you, or him, with all of the law as it pertains to this issue so that this matter can be decided on the basis of a policy decision. This problem is not going to go away. If anything, it is going to become worse as it pervades other sports in addition to tennis, track and soccer, the predominantly foreign athletic teams.
The issue should be fully discussed and decisions made regarding it on the basis of merit. The respective members of your Board, and those of other similar associations, should state what their position is, and then vote on it on the basis of policy. The law permits you to do that in regulating the number of foreign tennis players that may participate at various levels of intercollegiate tennis. No association should hide behind the shield of the law in order to avoid considering this very difficult issue.
The National Junior College Athletic Association (N.J.C.A.A.), based upon their legal counsel’s analysis, which concurs with mine, has provided for regulations as to the number of foreign students that may participate.Their action, and that of your Association, is not “State action”.They are permitted, as your Association is, to do this under the law. Minnesota also had adopted regulations, which the total number of foreign athletes is limited. There are a variety of methods, too numerous to mention here. Some regulation is done based upon the ratio of the total number of foreign students to the total students enrolled; some are as a percentage of the total team members; and some are simply by number.
As stated above, I am willing to confer with you or your counsel on the state of the law on this very important issue. Thank you for your consideration.
Very truly yours, John L. Morel

MEMORANDUM
April 23, 1992
To: ITCA Board of Directors, Sheila McInerney, Jeff Frank, Rick Evrard, Dan Calandro From: David Benjamin
Re:
Foreign Player Scholarships
As we all know, one of the most controversial areas involving collegiate tennis is the issue of scholarships given to foreign players. Over the past years, we have been asked innumerable questions about this by the media as well as members of the USTA and many concerned parents. It has always been our understanding that there are Constitutional constraints preventing an Association from passing any formal legislation which would limit scholarships given to foreign players. Last week I raised this question with Rick Evrard, NCAA Director of Legislative Services, who said his initial instinct was that it could be met with legal opposition, but he would look into it further.
This week I have just received the enclosed letter from an Illinois attorney, Mr. JohnMorel,in which he states that the“law does not prohibit such regulation.” I plan to discuss this matter in more detail over the phone with Mr. Morel, and to follow up with further conversation with the NCAA and other appropriate authorities.
In the meanwhile, I am bringing this matter to your attention in order that you might discuss this with the coaches at our ITCA. Annex Membership Meetings in May. If the points raised by John Morel are correct, it might be time for the ITCA and the NCAA Tennis Committee to explore this issue in depth.
I would appreciate having your ideas and reactions from the coaches after your discussions at the ITCA Annex Meetings.
Best Wishes.
Yours truly,
David A Benjamin – Executive Director
P.S. I am enclosing a fact sheet put together by Joe Lynch about foreign players and collegiate rankings.

C. YOUNG GUNS ( )

Let’s Make American Tennis Great Again
(Dan Parham)

Introduction
– 5 minute overview, 10 minutes questions after my overview
– Today I will focus on a proposed solution … if anyone would like to talk more about how we ended up in this position, I’m happy to answer those questions over a beer after my allotted time today.

Why
Over the past 35 years, the number of top ranked US players has declined drastically. For example, right now there are zero top 10 ranked men in the ATP, and two in the WTA. By comparison, in 1970, there were x men and x women in the top 10. Additionally, we’re giving approximately 7,000 scholarships a year (~$200m/year) to international players. In comparison, the USTA spends $18m/year on player development.

Vision
What if we invested these resources into American tennis players? Would we see a dramatic increase in top ranked players in the next 10 years? Either way, we will have allocated tens of thousands of scholarships to young Americans, investing over $250m in educational resources into the US economy. Let’s build a coalition of supporters of American tennis to test this theory. Our goal is the adoption of a new policy by the NCAA that requires 70% of men’s and women’s scholarships to be allocated to US citizens over the next 10 years.

Measuring success
We expect to see a 300% increase in Americans in the top ten men’s and women’s worldwide rankings by 2027 (ten years).

Accomplishing our goal
Today we are all here as leaders in the American college tennis community. We have the potential to build a grassroots coalition of likeminded supporters of American tennis. Once we determine our strategy, we can leverage our collective relationships to determine the strengths, weaknesses, threats, and opportunities of our campaign. We’ll start by privately approaching Tim Russell, CEO of the ITA privately, and understand the ITA Board’s concerns with our proposal. Once we have their support (or opposition), we will reach out to the ITA coaches to help us demonstrate their support for our proposal. We’ll state the potential benefits and consequences of this policy shift, and petition the NCAA to make the changes. If they refuse to consider our proposal, we’ll explore a legal approach.

Risks
The first question is, is it legally possible to reserve a percentage of scholarships for US citizens? We may need to hire a legal expert to determine the complexity of our proposal if necessary. We need to understand the incentives of the ITA Board, the ITA members, NCAA, or USTA have an incentive to incur the cost of fighting this proposal. We should address any negative consequences in our proposal. For example, we understand that we would eliminate some great international players (and scholars) from our institutions. It is also probable that the overall quality of competition would decrease in the near term, and that this could put some smaller college programs at risk. Finally, there would be a decrease in the “diversity” of students in our higher education institutions. We are willing to take these risks.

Next Steps
Determine the right legal and financial structure to support this campaign. Is there an existing non-profit that we could leverage as a fiscal sponsor to move more quickly?
Start a coalition of supporters to staff and fund this campaign. Establish a working leadership council with clear roles and responsibilities, and a decision making process.
Identify an internal or external program manager with campaign experience and strong relationships in the ITA to plan, manage, and execute our campaign.
If we face resistance from the ITA or NCAA, we will need to hire a legal team experienced in NCAA policy and laws to litigate this proposed change.
Identify the ideal leader for the campaign coach.

D. AMERICAN COLLEGE TENNIS (111)

THERE IS NOTHING MORE POWERFUL THAN AN IDEA WHOSE TIME HAS COME….VICTOR HUGO
I recently wrote a letter to North Carolina and America’s tennis friend, Andy Andrews (see Blog article 112).
The intent of that letter was to suggest to the USTA a theory or perhaps one reason there has been such a drastic drop off among top ranked American players. My strong feelings are that the theory (summarized below) is quite close to the problem:

THE AWARDING OF A DISPROPORTIONATE AMOUNT OF AID TO INTERNATIONAL PLAYERS HAS INFLUENCED THE AMERICAN PUBLIC TO NOT CHOOSE TENNIS FOR UNTOLD TALENTED AMERICAN YOUNGSTERS.

Two items of support for this theory is an examination of past top ranked American (Men). Blog number 113 has a list of top Americans from 1960-2013. Compare the 2010-2013 numbers 5 through 10 today to any of 5-10 in the late 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, or early 2000 rankings. Harrison vs Connors?
Blog 114 lists the members of the INTERCOLLEGIATE TENNIS HALL OF FAME. See any top pros who had college ties?
Computers make tennis history available. Just check out the number of International players who have had American college experience. Patrick McEnroe says the route for Americans is 99.9 the college route. Could Patrick have played pro without his college training? Would he have played college tennis without a scholarship?
While the USTA says about 20% of all college tennis players are international, they don’t reveal what % of scholarships go to internationals. Analyze the top five teams in DIVISIONS I AND 2 OF the NCAA the NAIA AND JR. Colleges the last twenty years for these facts: NOT their total rosters, but the lineup players in crucial matches. Where did the scholarship allotments go,percentage wise. Where were the “All-Americans” from? All awards winners? Did American kids not only get cut out of scholarships, but the chance to win or excel?
“Fool me twice, it’s my fault”. Americans have opted out of tennis. No sizable grant? My second kid will play soccer. Maybe #2 child was Connors! Think he would draw some fans to New York for the USOPEN?
That begs other questions. Doesn’t the USTA have most to gain by the restoration of college tennis grants for Americans? 550 MILLION for a roof and no Americans past round 2. We only had ISNER and Steve Johnson (both college players) to win a second round match in the last US OPEN, WIMBLEDON, and the Australian. At the rate we are going, no American will qualify by the time the roof,etc. are completed.

THE LAW? This the sticky wicket with them all. “Unconstitutional”? Can’t do it legally? Xenophobic? Check the latest USTA Comment (see blog 115 on “Frequently Asked Questions”). Alludes only to a question from the 70’s about a track issue. Milktoast?
Blog 116 is a copy of a letter that was issued by the lawyer/Father of one of my players. Illegal? The NCAA not a “state actor” therefore permitted to make that choice if it is in the best interest of the organization? Quite frankly the NCAA and it’s affiliate ,the ITA, aren’t the ones hurting. College tennis has a great product. Just our kids losing out. And the USTA?
The USTA has spent 17 million dollars on a system that has come no where near the historic nurturing of the COLLEGE AND FAMILY influences. Our only big winners today are “family” products (the Williams sisters and the Bryan twins) and college’s Isner and Johnson.
We got shot down with the 50/50 plan (50% of scholarship aid has to be reserved for Americans)??? Doesn’t say no internationals. Doesn’t say you can’t give them a scholarship. Doesn’t say internationals can’t play on the team. Wonder what % of top internationals paid there own way to American colleges? (Foreign trade vs Foreign aid?).

How important is a college scholarship when some total catalog cost is 70k a year at some schools? When college debt exceeds credit card debt in the USA? Where is the “carrot” to play tennis as a talented junior, if the grants aren’t possible. Harsh statement? I can promise your there are American colleges that recruit ONLY internationals.
I feel like Charlton Heston on this issue. But the time has come for others to help.
What about a USTA “think tank”. Don’t we have any lawyers? The last I heard a ton of money will find a good lawyer. The USTA got any poker players? I bet there is a legal way. At least run a good bluff at litigation. Bet the NCAA wouldn’t take the football/men’s basketball money to risk on an expensive trial?

I think it is right and legal. But somebody has got to “…screw up some courage”. Only those who love American tennis will do it.

PS. Blog 117 shows excerpts from the Bryan twins Father, Wayne.

MADE IN THE USA (BLOG 12)  IS RELATED

F. COLLEGE TENNIS IN THE ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE-2017 (198)

Quite a year in the Atlantic Coast Conference tennis arena.

UVA wins third straight team title (D 1 men).

UVA, Wake Forest, and UNC –Chapel Hill all finish in top five of D1 mens.

UNC women win NCAA D1 women’s indoor title.

UNC men are runners-up in D1 for the first time in a storied history.

Sam Paul (UNC) is justly named NCAA D1 men’s coach of the year.

Coach Paul was aided by Tripp Phillips, who was recently named top assistant coach in men’s D1. The men and women combined were the best in D1.

Coach Kalbas has been at the top of D1 women’s tennis along with Roland Thornqvist of the University of Florida’s women. The Gators won their 4th women’s D1 title under Coach Thornqvist last week. Roland, a UNC graduate continues along the path of a legendary player and coach.

S. HOME GROWN (192)

Sixty years ago Carolina won its first national NCAA basketball championship.   We watched it on this new thing called TV.   UNC beat my Wake Forest Deacons four times in close games that undefeated year for the Heels (32-0).  The last one on a buzzer beater by Lennie Rosenbluth.  UNC Coach,  Frank McGuire observed “…the Baptists and the Catholics were having a swell game when the Jewish kid ended it all”.

This year’s UNC roster was made up of all American players.   Three of five solid starters were from our state.   Gonzaga listed five internationals on their roster.   Someone said there are five thousand international basketball players in the USA.

Our guys are something to be proud of.  The best.

M. MOTHER AND CHILD REUNION (365)

“How many times have you heard someone say,

if I had his money, I’d do things my way!”

Patrick Mouratoglon,  Serena Williams’ tennis coach, said it.  The commentators missed a great chance.  Was the USTA listening closely?  His point about Co Co Gault’s win over Venus Williams was, here is another example of where great American tennis players have come from, then and now.  What better example could you want:  From Richard Williams and Venus and Serena, to 2019 Wimbledon and Co Co and her parents.   The Bryan brothers and their dad,  Isner and his mom, all the  way back to Chris Evert and her father.  Connors and mom.  McEnroe/Father.  No one gives their attention to a child like  parents.   There were five American men entered in the 2019 French Open.  Tiafoe, at #32, was the only seeded American male.  Taylor  Fritz won a first round match.  The rest lost.

For the umpteenth time,  all entities sincerely interested in developing quality American tennis players, should demand a reasonable slice of college tennis scholarships for American students.  Parents need help, a carrot at the end.

 

Former college tennis players
Jack Kramer, Arthur Ashe, Stan Smith, John McEnroe, Bob and Mike Bryant, Jim Courier, Brad Gilbert, Bill Tilden, Roscoe Tanner, Jimmy Connors, Dennis Ralston, Dick Stockton, Vitas Gerulaitis, Michael Chang, Malavai Washington, Todd Martin, Bob Lutz, Bill Talbert, Tony Trabert,, Vince Spadea, John Isner, Steve Johnson, MANY MORE.

C. AMERICAN TENNIS IN THE FUTURE (345)

  1.  College tennis is directly related to the development of elite players in America.  Without more scholarships for our youngsters,  we will continue “the dearth”.
  2. Pickleball could be an obvious first choice as the best lead-up game for our junior tennis programs.   The mass of people are unaware of our  current programs to address junior participation.  Awareness of pickleball popularity grows daily.

(www.tomparham.wordpress.com) has numerous attempts to call attention to the issues above.  Here are  are a few:

A. ( College/American tennis) https://wordpress.com/post/littlegreenbookoftennis.com/1749  (blog 193)

B. (Pickleball)

https://wordpress.com/post/littlegreenbookoftennis.com/1681 (blog 186)

 

 

N. FOREIGN TRADE OR FOREIGN AID (337)

The Raleigh News and Observer published an article by Barry Jacobs on November 30, 2018.   Mr. Jacobs made particular note of the increasing percentage of international collegiate basketball players in the United States. He also pointed out the history of this issue with other sports in the USA.

American college tennis, men and women’s, has struggled with this issue for more than fifty years. Any sport that is played internationally

( basketball, soccer, track and field, golf, and others) will have people who will want the education we offer. Often via scholarships funded by state tax revenues. The tennis tsunami is expanding.

The IntercollegiateTennis Association is the NCAA affiliate that manages college tennis in large part. Periodically they rank the teams, and singles and doubles

They rank men and women in NCAA Divisions 1,11, and 111, the NAIA, and Junior colleges. Having just read these 2018 fall rankings (google ITA TENNIS) and anyone can see the listing of the top players) my observations of these current lists reflect the long time history of college tennis:

  1. I once asked a player of mine who had just won, who he played next? Another “strom” he said. Lots of Ovas in women’s tennis now.   Lots of oriental names in women’s LPGA?   Don’t see as many Reggie Williams or Sol Epsteins. It is not the Smiths and Jones who are on the lists. And taking the scholarships.
  2. Sure, Americans are great mixture of people and names, but believe me, I have studied the lists a lot, and the rosters that reflect their nationality . Pick a school, google men’s tennis . Tag the roster and see for yourself. Just recently I researched the total rosters of Division 11’s top six mens teams. Of 63 players on the combined rosters, 62 were international. Six schools, one American. When I saw the USTA figure of some 25% of college tennis players being internationals, I cringed.   TRY 80% of top players.
  3. No scholarships for American kids, no elite players. Our great players, past and current, come from parents, high school and college tennis. Not Academies or the USTA.
  4. Is diversity our goal, or winning, or our children? Scholarships are the answer. Should our kids get the lion’s share.?
  5. Is this spreading? Like kudzu !!! And the most cruel sport is basketball, given the need of the players.

In 1998 I wrote the BLACK BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION (BCA) acknowledging this change. A copy is enclosed. Twenty years! Who will be playing on our collegiate teams twenty years from now.

Screen Shot 2018-12-26 at 10.33.12 PM.png