The Gold Medal Standards for Amateur Basketball

The Gold Medal Standards for Amateur Basketball

Sports leaders call for far-reaching reforms with release of Gold Medal Standards for Amateur Basketball

LOS ANGELES – Amid growing concerns that men’s and boys’ high school and college basketball programs are not fulfilling their potential to promote education and develop character, four dozen delegates comprised of top basketball coaches, university presidents, youth sports administrators, collegiate conference commissioners, and game officials drafted and are today issuing “Pursuing Victory with Honor: The Gold Medal Standards for Amateur Basketball” detailing far-reaching and fundamental reforms.

The document is the product of a conclave held in Kansas City, Missouri, in 2001. The National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) and Josephson Institute’s Center for Sports Ethics sponsored the event.

“This is not an academic exercise in rhetoric,” said Jim Haney, executive director of the NABC. “It is a sincere and serious effort by many of the most influential people in amateur basketball to outline a realistic game plan to address some of the most serious issues facing the game including acceptable graduation rates in college programs, on- and off-court conduct and sportsmanship, preserving balanced competition in high school, officiating, conflicts of interest, commercialism, and fiscal responsibility.”

Among the drafters and advocates of the Gold Medal Standards for Amateur Basketball: Roy Williams, teacher-coach at University of Kansas; Gene Keady, teacher-coach at Purdue University; “Tubby” Smith, teacher-coach at Kentucky; Mike Montgomery, teacher-coach at Stanford University; Jim Boeheim, teacher-coach at Syracuse University; Jim Delany, commissioner of the Big Ten Conference; Kevin Weiberg, commissioner of the Big XII Conference; Carol Cartwright, president of Kent State, Bob Lawless, president of the University of Tulsa; James Moeser, chancellor at University of North Carolina; Robert Kanaby, executive director of the National Federation of State High School Associations; Barry Mano, president of the National Association of Sports Officials; Vince Dooley, athletic director at Georgia; Jim Livengood, athletic director at Arizona; and Senator Carl Hawkinson of the Illinois State Legislature.

As part of the national Pursuing Victory With Honor campaign, intercollegiate and interscholastic institutions, sports associations, and basketball conferences will be asked to adopt and implement the provisions of the Gold Medal Standards for Amateur Basketball. The press and public will be asked to help hold institutions to the high standards of conduct.

The Gold Medal Standards for Amateur BasketballView the 16-page Gold Medal Standards for Amateur Basketball (pdf, 285k)

Issues covered in the Gold Medal Standards for Amateur Basketball include:

  • Graduation Rates and Recruiting: To address the problem of low graduation rates and the indifference of many top basketball players to their academic obligations and opportunities, the Gold Medal Standards for Amateur Basketball states that student-athletes should not be recruited by or admitted to college programs unless the athlete has a reasonable chance to compete academically with the general student body AND there is a determination that the athlete is seriously interested in getting an education and earning a degree.

  • Academics and Character-Building: The Gold Medal Standards for Amateur Basketball require basketball programs to state their academic, character-building, and sportsmanship objectives and use them as core criteria for the hiring and retention of coaches. It also recommends that wherever it is not unduly awkward that coaches should be referred to as teacher-coaches in the same manner as players are called student-athletes.

  • Improved Officiating: The Gold Medal Standards for Amateur Basketball specify that the independence of officials must be protected by reducing the role of coaches in the selection of tournament and referees. In addition, to assure greater consistency of calls, officials are required to enforce the rules as written and interpreted by the rules committee with less emphasis on discretionary judgments as to advantage or disadvantage.

  • Improved Sportsmanship: The Gold Medal Standards for Amateur Basketball calls on administrators to hold coaches accountable for the conduct of their athletes and to model, teach, and demand high standards of sportsmanship. It also requires the adoption of codes of conduct for student-athletes, teacher-coaches, administrators, officials, parents, and spectators.

  • Reduce Emphasis on Winning: To stress the concept of pursuing victory passionately, but with honor, the Gold Medal Standards for Amateur Basketball discourages financial incentives for athletic performance and terminating coaching contracts in mid-season.

  • Special Provisions for Youth Basketball: The Gold Medal Standards for Amateur Basketball require that programs for youths under 13 implement a required background screening and credentialing program for coaches. It also sets standards to deal with the growing problem of transfers from outside a high school’s local area creating powerhouse teams that result in unbalanced competition and the displacement of students who want to play for their neighborhood high school team.


  • NABC president and Kansas coach Roy Williams: “The topics we addressed in the Gold Medal Standards for Amateur Basketball significantly advance the NABC’s Guardians of the Game initiative and clearly emphasize the role of the teacher-coach in providing for the health, welfare, and conduct of student-athletes at the youth, scholastic, and collegiate levels of the game.”

  • University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill chancellor James C. Moeser: “This document builds on the Arizona Sports Summit Accord, the Knight Commission recommendations, and the CHARACTER COUNTS! initiative by providing far-reaching and very specific proposals designed to ensure that ethics and character-building remain an integral part of basketball.”

  • Josephson Institute founder and summit moderator Michael Josephson: “We addressed some very difficult issues and each person made some concessions to arrive at a blueprint that brings amateur basketball back to its roots as a source of fun, recreation, and character-building for young people – best expressed as pursuing victory with honor.”

  • Purdue coach Gene Keady: “I think the motto, ‘Pursue Victory with Honor,’ is the key to the whole thing. The Gold Medal Standards for Amateur Basketball cover a lot of things that need to be addressed from summer recruitment to coaches’ contracts as well as an effort to bring commitment, sportsmanship, and honor back into the forefront of basketball.”