CHAUTAUQUA - NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell knows a thing or two about dealing with ethics in sports. So, too, does Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive.
Both were present during a panel discussion at Chautauqua Institution regarding "ethics of cheating," moderated by NBC correspondent Luke Russert. The hour-long discussion was part of a week-long series at the Institution.
For both commissioners ethics in sports means starting at the top with coaches and universities.
Buffalo Bills' Mario Williams signs autographs for Bills fans during NFL football training camp in Pittsford.
"Those of us in leadership positions we have a responsibility and say to hold our people accountable," Goodell said. "That's what leadership does."
Added Slive, "We have to make sure that our institutions take responsibility for making sure that we abide by our rules."
One grey area in sports, as of late, has been the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs by players. Russert asked Goodell how confident he was that banned substances such as steroids and human growth hormones were not being used by players in the NFL.
"Well unfortunately right now I can't tell you that they aren't taking HGH because we can't test for them," Goodell said. "We educate ... and we do everything we possibly can to be certain our players aren't taking them."
Goodell noted that when steroid testing began in the 1990s it was at the behest of the players, many of whom, he said, did not want to line up against someone using them.
When it comes to other infractions, Russert noted, since 1936 only one national winning team has gone a season without running into major trouble. That team: Brigham Young University.
Slive, however, said statistics such as those can be molded to form any opinion. He said some violations, such as receiving tips in the bookstore for additional reading material, are considered infractions.
"You have to be very careful about when you talk about violations," Slive said, noting that he made it a priority when he became SEC commissioner in 2001 to crack down on serious infractions.
Discussions then turned to injuries in sports. Russert asked the crowd how many would allow their children and grandchildren to play football; then soccer. The crowd overwhelmingly favored the latter.
"How do you tell parents the game is safe?" Russert asked.
"I bet many people here wouldn't understand," Goodell responded. "What's the second highest incidents in concussions? Girls soccer.
"This isn't a football issue. This is a sport's issue. And it's beyond sports."
Goodell said changes to the league when its comes to handling concussions and injuries have had a ripple effect in all sports. He alluded to the New Orleans Saints, which had its head coach suspended for a year following the realization that players were allegedly paid to knock opposing players out of the game.
"You can make the game more safer and exciting," he said. "And we've been very open about the fact that we have to do more and we have to take a leadership position. And we think we are going to continue to make those changes going forward."
Slive, meanwhile, said concussions - and injuries - are being treated more seriously now more than ever. He noted that since the '50s when he played football advances have been made to keep players safe.
"Those days are a long time ago," Slive said. "... These days are about protecting."