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“The things they’re doing, getting the rule book out of play and relaxing the rules and doing things, I think they’re doing some brilliant things,” Pitino said. “For us, as coaches, they’re doing a lot of great things right now.”

But the long-running Miami investigation has tempered much of the enthusiasm.

“You can’t do that to Miami, you can’t do that to a university, drag it out like that for a long period of time. It’s just not fair,” Pitino said. “Now, (the NCAA) did have some speed bumps where they’ve done the wrong things, but that’s dragging it out too much for the university. They’ve got to wrap this thing up.”

LSU athletic director Joe Alleva, who is also on the NCAA basketball committee, insisted that Emmert has the full confidence of the membership despite the recent missteps and negative publicity.

Among the cases cited by USA Today Sports: allegations of academic fraud in the LSU football program in 2001-02, when Emmert was chancellor at the school and led an investigation that found five minor violations while declaring most of the claims “unfounded.”

“President Emmert is an outstanding leader,” said Alleva, who came to LSU after the academic fraud case. “I can tell you we currently have things in place that he put into place to make sure we don’t have any of those kind of problems again. The folks at LSU think the world of Mark Emmert and the way he was a leader during his time there.”

But, in his time before the media, Emmert mostly responded to questions about the seamier side of college athletics, everything from reports showing athletes are coping with tougher academic standards by choosing easier courses of study _ a trend known as “clustering” _ to a report that Auburn paid football players during its 2010 national championship season to Rutgers’ firing of men’s basketball coach Mike Rice after a video emerged showing him abusing players and berating them with gay slurs.

Plus, there were plenty of questions about Emmert’s own record.

“I’m proud of my reputation at every place I’ve been,” he insisted. “If you want to go to my campuses, scratch around and find somebody that doesn’t like some of the decisions I’ve made, I’m sure you can find them.”

On his way off the podium, Emmert even took a parting shot at a reporter who has called for his dismissal.

“I know you’re disappointed,” the president said with a sly grin, “but I’m still here.”


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