NCAA, Indiana Offer Special Tribute to Brand

BY foxsports • October 28, 2009


INDIANAPOLIS -- Mike Krzyzewski compared Myles Brand to Jim Valvano. Pat Summitt thanked Brand for his commitment to women's sports, and Josh Brand said goodbye to his father one more time.

It was an emotional night inside Conseco Fieldhouse, the venue Brand occasionally came to watch games.

With the lights dimmed, more than 1,000 people came to pay tribute to the NCAA's late president Wednesday night. Brand died last month from pancreatic cancer at age 67.

Most attendees were friends, coaches, university administrators or colleagues. But it was Brand's son, who put a personal touch on the reflections after nearly a dozen speakers recounted their memories.

"I want you to know, you were always there for me, dad," Josh Brand said before talking about his two daughters. "You will always be there when I wake up every morning. I want you to know you will always be a part of Megan and Cassidy's lives. I want you to know, I love you, dad. I miss you, dad. Goodbye, dad."

The crowd applauded politely before and after the speeches and performances, and some drew laughter with their stories.

The lineup of speakers ranged from one of Brand's closest friends in graduate school, Marshall Swain, to Summitt, who has more wins than any Division I basketball coach in history -- men or women.

Indiana University president Michael McRobbie announced during the ceremony that the school would name an endowed faculty position for cancer research after Brand. McRobbie said more than $1.5 million had already been raised and the university that Brand led for eight years will donate another $1 million to the endowment.

But there was one common theme throughout the night -- each speaker insisted Brand left his imprint wherever he went.

"We are glad the NCAA found him," Summitt said. "His legacy will live on and continue to benefit future generations in the classroom and on the playing fields and courts across America for years to come."

When Brand left Indiana in 2002 to become the first ex-university president to lead the NCAA, many wondered how someone with no background in athletics would get along with coaches and athletes.

It didn't take those constituents long to figure out they had a friend in Brand -- and a real fighter.

"My initial reaction was that Myles was a brilliant man who never put you down because he was smarter than you," Krzyzewski said in a video. "He was a guy who reminded me so much of Jim Valvano because they both handled those last few months with dignity. He didn't beat it (cancer), but he spit on it, and although he passed, I truly feel that he won."

The reflections came from all corners and lasted 30 minutes longer than the 90-minute schedule organizers planned.

There was John Walda, a former Indiana trustee who interviewed Brand for his first job in Bloomington and later co-chaired the investigation into Bob Knight that eventually led to Knight's firing.

There was NCAA vice president Wally Renfro talking about his trips with Brand and the perspectives they shared while flying from school to school.

There was poet Garrett Hongo reading the piece he wrote about Brand, and two of Brand's favorite singers -- Sylvia McNair and John Mellencamp -- on stage.

But the blend of academicians, friends, coaches and family seemed a fitting farewell for Brand.

"The best word to describe it, was cathartic," said NCAA executive committee chairman Michael Adams, who talked about the conversations he had with Brand over the last nine months. "I really think the measure of the person is how he comported himself during a real time of tragedy, and he did that with grace and dignity."

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