• September 3, 2015

NCAA Faces Criticism Over Ad From Conservative Group

The National Collegiate Athletic Association is taking heat over an ad for a conservative advocacy group that appeared for a time this week on its corporate Web site.

The promotion for the group, Focus on the Family, features a smiling father holding his young son, next to the words "Celebrate Family. Celebrate Life." Beneath the photo appears the message: "All I want for my son is for him to grow up knowing how to do the right thing."

It's the second time this month that Focus on the Family has been linked to the world of college sports. The organization stirred controversy over an antiabortion commercial featuring Tim Tebow, the standout former University of Florida quarterback, that aired during CBS's broadcast of the Super Bowl.

Uproar over the ad on NCAA.com emerged on Monday, when Pat Griffin, a professor-turned-blogger, saw the ad and wrote about it. Other blogs took note. A Facebook group soon appeared and urged its members to protest the NCAA's decision to run an ad from a group that they perceive as being against gay rights and diversity. By midday Tuesday, the ad was gone.

Bob Williams, a spokesman for the NCAA, said officials had been aware of the ad but decided to take it down after receiving complaints this week from NCAA members. He said he did not know when the ad first went up. Officials at the NCAA work "closely" with the association's broadcast partner, CBS, on the approval and scheduling of ads; "regularly" review the content of those ads; and "make adjustments as appropriate," Mr. Williams said in an e-mail message on Tuesday.

The association's advertising and promotional standards state that it favors advertisements that promote its core principles, including diversity, gender equity, and nondiscrimination. Advertisements from "cause-related organizations" are acceptable "unless the cause endorses a controversial or unacceptable viewpoint."

(The nonprofit organization has two Web sites, NCAA.org, for day-to-day operations geared toward its more than 1,000 members, and its corporate site, NCAA.com. The corporate site is the home for tickets, merchandise, and other information associated with the 88 championships the association sponsors in men's and women's sports.)

At Focus on the Family, officials were at first unaware that one of their advertisements had ended up on the NCAA's site. Only after being contacted by reporters did the organization's leaders discover that a prior agreement with CBS for an ad in a printed Super Bowl program also included provisions for additional placements of that ad in "ancillary" outlets—including Web sites—affiliated with the network, said Gary Schneeberger, a spokesman for the group.

He said Focus on the Family has "absolutely no plans" to purchase air time from CBS during the approaching Division I men's basketball tournament, the NCAA's marquee event for which CBS holds the broadcast rights.


1. franmurphy - February 24, 2010 at 09:35 am

Obviously freedom of speech is only for SOME people. Nobody gives a d--m if abortion, etc offend some people. But dare to advertise family values and doing the right thing and the world is up in arms. It's embarrasing what we have become!

2. patrick4uall - February 24, 2010 at 09:39 am


You are spot on! Of course the NCAA is so PC they cannot think straight but, as a nation, we have sacrificed the things that made us strong on the altar of special interests.

3. chenglibrary - February 24, 2010 at 10:06 am

Advertisements from "cause-related organizations" are acceptable "unless the cause endorses a controversial or unacceptable viewpoint."

We should be very careful about trying to censor controversial or "unacceptable" viewpoints. One day our viewpoint may be the one under attack. Let people express their opinions. If we disagree, then let us repond with reasoned arguments -- not threats and pressure to censor and silence the others.

4. jdm0007 - February 24, 2010 at 10:07 am

Apparently this politically correct organization has lost its way. It should be at the forefront in standing up for family values, clean living and clean sports. Look at the basketball play and the players. It should be embarrassing for the NCAA to allow what goes on on the court and the hood look of a large percentage of the players.

Is this what we want want for our youth to follow as role models. Not me. Time to get rid of the NCAA and its control of college sports. We have lost our way and given up on values, leadership and sportsmanship.

5. justme2010 - February 24, 2010 at 10:09 am

Coming from the NCAA, that bastion of ethics, integrity...and gangsterism, this is quite amusing.

6. calfrye - February 24, 2010 at 10:13 am

It's about human rights and antidiscrimination, not abortion. Unless we're going to start banning gays from our sports teams, FoF's message contradicts the spirit of college life and college sports.

We should be supporting ALL our youth; valuing everyone in our family, not casting them out. That's the role we should be modeling.

7. calvary - February 24, 2010 at 10:20 am

Apparently leadership in the NCAA is not very strong to stand for principles of truth. When leadership worries what "the few" think then you can watch the ship sail without a rudder!

8. simon100 - February 24, 2010 at 10:29 am

I'm not necessarily a fan of FoF, but the actual message seems non-controversial enough. Who doesn't want to raise a child to "know how to do the right thing"?

9. crunchycon - February 24, 2010 at 10:39 am

calfrye - what you and others who are of the same opinion fail to recognize is that not supporting the gay lifestyle does not mean people are discriminatory against it. But Fof is discriminated against for having a conservative, not controversial, viewpoint. Semantics.

Fof also believes that heteros should not have sex outside marriage, including singles whether straight or gay. And contrary to "popular" belief (and some sects), there is no sin worse than any other in God's eyes. It isn't a sin to "be" homosexual, but is a sin to engage in sex, just as it is a sin for single straights to engage in sex. Is this a controversial viewpoint? Should they be discriminated against because of that?

10. mbelvadi - February 24, 2010 at 10:48 am

Crunchycon, "there is no sin worse than any other in God's eyes" - really? On what basis do you claim to know what's in God's eyes? Even if you specify the "Christian God", you're still wrong; look up the term "venial sin".

I oppose pretty much everything FotF is known for publicly, but this story concerns me, as the particular ad itself doesn't sound particularly offensive. But then I haven't seen the ad - was there more to it than this article describes?

11. dthornton9 - February 24, 2010 at 10:55 am

Most of the athletes of the NCAA (at least the men) look like trash on TV - we don't watch it. All the nasty tattos, long/bad hair and the hood uniforms. Way too many foolish and immoral actions, from cheating in school, to drinking/drugs, to women. Most importantly we don't buy tickets. The best action to take.

It's too bad the NCAA felt they had to bow down to the politically correct spin given to this ad. I do want my son/daughter to do the right thing - and it won't be what the NCAA teaches them.

12. jbarman - February 24, 2010 at 10:56 am

I disagree with many of FoF's positions, and others are hard to argue with - though I'm not certain how "clean living" is operationalized (the devil is in the details). I agree that FoF should be able to advertise with any outlet (TV, newspaper, organization) that will accept their money.

Correspondingly, I am free to no longer subscribe to a periodical (printed or electronic) if I don't like the sources from which they are accepting advertising money. I long ago stopped subscribing to magazines that accepted tobacco money. I am also free to let the NCAA, CBS, or any other outlet know if FoF's message - or that any other advertiser - offensive.

13. rngoodwi - February 24, 2010 at 11:00 am

The folks in support of this "family values" ad have very different family values than myself.

As an aside - this has nothing to do with free speech. FoF certainly has that. I would hope those on this forum are better thinkers than that.

14. crunchycon - February 24, 2010 at 11:48 am

mbelvadi -- "venial sin" only has relevance for Catholics. For the rest of the Christ-followers, all sin is forgivable, if one but asks for forgiveness (and, of course, is truly repentant).

15. steiny - February 24, 2010 at 11:56 am

Focus on the Family is a hateful organization and kudos to the NCAA as they banned them unlike CBS.

16. suppression - February 24, 2010 at 12:18 pm

When I actually saw the TV add I had to laugh because it was short and had a subtle but clear prolife message. It just presented his and his mothers experience in a respectful manner. The answer is for both sides to come up with such respectful means to convey their viewpoint. Not guilt, shame, or ridicule each other and get up in arms when one gets an ad up somewhere.

17. crunchycon - February 24, 2010 at 01:03 pm

steiny, it's misconceptions like yours that fuel the problem.

18. tbdiscovery - February 24, 2010 at 01:38 pm

I support gay rights, am pro-choice, support diversity without affirmative action, and see nothing wrong with the advertisements.

19. jsherman - February 24, 2010 at 01:45 pm

Sorry, crunchycon, FotF truly is a hateful organization (heteros can have sex - and all the legal and personal benefits of intimate relationships - by getting married; gays can "be" gay, but never, ever have any of that!) -- but FotF should still be free to express their beliefs -- and each of us is free to patronize or not patronize them and/or the places that accept their ads.

20. getwell - February 24, 2010 at 02:52 pm

Hmmm...would the ad have received any negative feedback if it had been run WITHOUT identifying the sponsor, Focus on the Family?

Possibly the beef is more about the sponsor, not the message...

21. danielmeyer - February 24, 2010 at 04:19 pm

Apparently, the left thinks free speech is only for its members, or, as Nat Hentoff, one of America's leading defenders of speech puts it in the title of one of his books, "Free Speech for Me but Not for Thee." Any way you look at it, the left is trying to impose censorship on the NCAA. Is this what America is coming to?

22. crunchycon - February 24, 2010 at 04:41 pm

so, jsherman, christianity is hateful? (hearing a "yes" in your tone...) You're wrong. I agree that Robertson puts his foot in his mouth -- more frequently of late, and would prefer Fof choose a successor now, but the organization is not hateful. Not believing that a social construct is "right" does not make an organization or a belief system "hateful".

I personally believe that I am not responsible for ANYONE but myself and my actions. I (will have to) answer ONLY for myself. I don't pass judgment on what anyone else chooses to do, even if I don't agree with the choice/lifestyle/behavior or whatever.

23. crunchycon - February 24, 2010 at 04:42 pm

getwell -- I believe you have hit the nail on the head. Fof brings a knee-jerk reaction from liberals EVERY time.

24. barnesms - February 24, 2010 at 05:03 pm

I get so tired of stupidity; it comes from both left and right. I believe in free speech and this is ONLY about free speech and the right of an organization to buy advertising time on a website. The message was noncontroversial (simplistic, yes, but not controversial). The fact that an some people think that free speech is limited to their point of view to the exclusion of all others. And this from "educated" people involved with higher education in the USA.

25. nellybly - February 24, 2010 at 05:21 pm

Whatever happened to the rights of ALL Americans? Free speech, and all the other rights? Or are those rights only for gay and lesbian people? "Politically correct thinking" is a farce. What's wrong with "doing the right thing because it is right"? Why can't that be a message we would like our youth to embrace?
Thank goodness we are not yet forced to believe right is wrong and wrong is right, or that up is down and down is up. No wonder some students think cheating is OK, if they can get away with it.
America is not Alice in Wonderland. Let's not act like it is.

26. crunchycon - February 24, 2010 at 05:27 pm

Thank you barnesms and nellybly

27. jsch0602 - February 24, 2010 at 07:14 pm

The ad is not as offensive as using college athletes for four years and sending them out into the world without an education.

28. rambo - February 24, 2010 at 09:10 pm

so what? since when do liberal Democrats cared or watched sports? Athletes are mostly conservative Republicans - competition, individualism, money, etc.

29. 11229250 - February 25, 2010 at 09:36 am

This should be no surprise. Obviously the NCAA went into panic mode when they thought it might cost them some money. Seldom do they make decisions that are best for college athletes and society as a whole. Doing the "right" thing in the eyes fo the NCAA is always about money, nothing more.

30. akprof - February 25, 2010 at 11:42 am

Who watches the commercials anyway - isn't that why we have mute buttons and short paths from the TV to the kitchen?

31. jfborland - February 25, 2010 at 09:55 pm


I'm willing to bet that if the NCAA ran both "right to choose" ads and Focus on Family ads, you'd complain about the former and say the latter is fine. It's laughable that you're talking about freedom of speech. It's the right wingers in this country that abhor free speech for anyone other than white people.

32. justme2010 - February 26, 2010 at 01:58 pm

"The ad is not as offensive as using college athletes for four years and sending them out into the world without an education."

LOL!!! Best comment yet on this topic. Universities should be embarrassed by the quality of the hoodlums, er, "athletes" they ship out to the world every Spring. Can't read, can't write can't even reason but by golly they have that diploma (in most cases earned by tutors, some professors, coaches, and cheaters.) We enable mediocrity.

33. 22162889 - February 26, 2010 at 05:12 pm

So apparently the concept of freedom of thought and expression is not truly an American ideal. One can only express their thoughts if they are of a certain philosophical persuassion. Whatever happened to exchange of ideas in the marketplace? I guess some people are not invited in.

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