On Tuesday evening, MU athletic director Mike Alden spoke to a collection of journalism students about the athletic department and its relationship with the media. After speaking for 30 minutes or so, Alden opened up for questions to discuss "whatever you want." Alden might have learned never to underestimate young journalists, as the Q&A segment quickly turned into a public forum on anything and everything from the Athena Five to Quin to the BCS system. Follow the jump to hear portions of Alden's responses on a variety of different topics.
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On taking the good with the bad in the media:
"In the business that we're in, not all stories are going to be the feel good stories. Not all stories are going to end with us beating Kansas at Arrowhead. Not all stories are going to end with a victory. Many of those stories that surround what we do are going to center around personal actions, they're going to center around losses, decisions. They're going to center around things that really expose us at a high level... If you want everyone to come talk to you when you're winning, you better be prepared to talk to them when you're losing."
On perceived lack of professionalism from the media:
"It's been amazing to me to watch the civility of what we do be somewhat ignored - I didn't say totally, but I think somewhat ignored."
On the fairness of media portrayal of the Athena Five:
"I don't think it's been overly fair. I think it's been sensationalized - to a certain extent. Let me qualify that, because there's no question we had five young men who made a bad decision. ... When I open up a newspaper and above the fold front page I've got 5 guys' pictures for breaking curfew, two of them who got - absolutely it's wrong - third degree misdemeanor assault, which means they got in a fight - doesn't make it right - but I can promise you if I'd have gotten caught, I'd have had a few misdemeanor assaults when I was in college. ... That doesn't make it right, but I think it was sensationalized to an extreme level. But it wasn't right and I'm not condoning that behavior."
On if he holds a grudge against the media:
"I don't at all. Now, I'll tell you that if you sense that the people you're dealing with have a lack of professionalism or perhaps have some 'gotcha' stuff that's gotten out of hand, you don't hold grudges, but you become much more cautious."
On Mizzou monitoring its operations and practices, especially since the Quin Snyder era:
"You may have a great system with great checks and balances, but you're still trying to govern personal decisions and trying to govern a human being. As much as you may educate somebody on rules and regulations, it's hard for me to judge a guy who's taking out some AAU basketball coaches and having drinks with them in Dallas, Texas and when those receipts came in he said those guys were a plumber, a whatever, and a whatever. You see a lot of those things. Those are decisions that are made by people even though our checks and balances are in place, and our thing is we have to continue to recruit people that we feel are going to represent the university and the city well.
On dealing with criticism, especially regarding the Snyder dismissal:
"It was hard - that day we're getting ready to announce Mike Anderson and at the same time the Board of Curators are having a special conference call about whether they should fire me or not fire me. ... It's hard, but what's helped me is that I have a strong faith, a strong family, and I have confidence in what I'm doing."
When a Missourian editor asked how he would have handled the Athena Five "above the fold" story and where he would have put it:
"Probably in sports. That would have been me, but it is what it is. The Post and the Star were out there as well, it wasn't just one. ... I was talking to Cathy Scroggs today, the vice chancellor of student affairs, and she said to me, 'Mike, do you know how many students on this campus get arrested for either underage drinking or fighting or misdemeanor or felony assault on a weekend?' She brought that to me. She said it's staggering. But, that's where you are and the life you live."
On whether the actions of the Athena Five are a reflection on Snyder:
"Stephon Hannah was recruited by Mike Anderson. Darryl Butterfield was recruited by Mike Anderson and his staff. Leo Lyons for the most part was recruited by Melvin Watkins as kind of a transitionary thing, but we can kind of say Quin a little bit. Marshall Brown, yes, was recruited by Quin and so was Jason Horton. So I'd be cautious that we would try to lay that back necessarily on Quin or Mike or whatever. Those are our kids, whoever recruited them. Those are students at Mizzou."
On tough seasons, notably for women's basketball:
"[Coach] Cindy [Stein] has done a great job for us, but at the same time, we've got to step it up. It's not acceptable for us to finish last in the Big 12 in any sport. ... I would hope that we'll see that program hopefully pick up and have much more success next year. But it's a challenge. I think that as we try to build all 20 programs, as we see great success in volleyball, soccer, football, gymnastics, wrestling, men's and women's swimming and diving, baseball, and softball, and we expect to see that in men's and women's basketball, there comes a time when you're in my shoes and you have to analyze if you're going in the right direction. I do think we have some work to do, and hopefully Cindy will get that done."
On if Mike Anderson will get the same "wait and see" leeway given to Gary Pinkel:
"I've got to tell you - I think one of the best things to happen for our basketball program is what happened with our football program. I don't think there's any question. Our fan base has seen that we have to allow people some time to build some things up. That doesn't mean that we still don't live an instant gratification society - we want to see it right away. But I think Mike represents all the core values that we talked about earlier and represents all the right things. We've got to win - there's no question about that. But I think our fan base, given what happened with football, I think there's going to be an extension to other sports... The pressure's there, but it might have been lessened a little bit because of what happened with football."
"As long as you're open and honest, you give timeframes, you're objective on what you're trying to do, and you have direct or indirect conversations, it eases the issue."
On the controversy of informing Snyder of his dismissal:
"The issue there was, 'Why would you ask Gary Link to go down the hall and talk to this guy? Why didn't you do that yourself?' That was a mistake on my part."
On previous rumors about Mizzou joining the Big 10:
"It's just wild speculation. It's been that way for the 10 years I've been at Mizzou... Not once, ever - and I know Jim Delaney, commissioner of the Big 10, never has he asked us to join the Big 10, ever."
On his thoughts on the college football postseason:
"I don't believe in a playoff system. I just don't. ... I just believe the bowl system works out great. It gives many teams an opportunity and student-athletes a chance to participate in postseason competition. I think there's a playoff every week - we saw it. Heck, Louisiana State at one point was going to the National Championship, then they lose to Arkansas and if Mizzou wins, Mizzou goes to the National Championship, and that happened within 10 hours. Are we disappointed we didn't go to the Orange Bowl? Yes. Were we disappointed? Do we think we should have been selected for the Orange Bowl? Do we think we're a better team than Kansas? Yes - we proved it on the field too. We are. ... I don't believe in the plus-one model. I believe it's good to have five bowls in BCS alignment. We should have the Cotton [sic], the Rose, the Orange, the Sugar and one other - whether it's the Cotton Bowl, the Gator Bowl, the Citrus Bowl or whatever can come up with those kind of dollars. That allows ten teams to play at a high level and one of those games each year would host the National Championship."