COLLEGE ATHLETICS-The Good/The Bad/and the Ugly APRIL, 2013

This is the one of many columns to be written by UMBC Director of Athletics Dr. Charles Brown. Dr. Brown is believed to be the longest-tenured AD in the state, with over 20 years at the helm of the Retrievers. He has been an athletic director since 1981 and has served two terms as president of the Maryland Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics and one term on the NCAA Division I Championships/Competition Cabinet.

As my career in college athletics comes to a close this June, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on my experiences as a student-athlete, coach and athletic director. For me, the story started in 1965 when I tried out for the Long Island University varsity wrestling team and, as a “walk-on,” worked my way into a starter’s position as a light middle weight (130 lbs. – 137 lbs. – 145 lbs.) for several years.

After graduation in 1967, I taught physical education in an elementary school in Harlem, N.Y. I got a big break in 1970 when I was chosen as wrestling coach and physical education instructor at historic Hunter College of the City University of New York. After coaching and teaching for a decade at Hunter College and earning a doctorate in P.E. with a concentration in administration and sport psychology, I was chosen by Hunter College’s Donna Shalala (President Clinton’s cabinet/University of Miami President) to be athletic director.

In 1989, a fledgling UMBC Division I program took a chance on me to lead the Retrievers through our NCAA Division I odyssey. Overall, it’s been 48 years with lots of amazing experiences and memories. From my days as a walk-on student-athlete, to those as an athletic director traveling across our country and even to Europe, I’ve had a “storybook” ride. From Final Fours in huge venues to dual competitions in now torn-down Gym 1, and from working with hesitant beginners to potential All-Americans and professional athletes, I’ve seen an amazing metamorphosis in my chosen profession.

What I’ve seen has been mostly good, but there’s also been a swing to the bad and the downright ugly.

Despite all the media hype about abuse in college athletics, cheating, drug abuse, spiraling costs and the like, the facts still show that we are, for the most part, providing a positive experience with positive results.

Some of the positives that we in the field are most proud of include:



While there are numerous positives, what the public hears primarily through the media is the “Bad and the Ugly”. Good news is, in general, not quite as interesting and compelling as the BAD.


Many people have predicted the demise of the NCAA. Some say we should implode a system that is broken. I have worked in athletics since 1970 as a coach and athletic director. I believe that the good outweighs the bad and the ugly. However, we as coaches, athletic directors, presidents and Board of Trustees/Regents must be vigilant and principled. Athletics must be a part of the educational process of the student-athlete on a college campus. Otherwise, it doesn’t belong there. We must keep our programs affordable, professional, honest and wholesome.


Dr. Brown Column Archive