The NCAA Approves Tougher Sanctions: It’s about time

Seriously, this is something that was long overdue.  It was literally years in the making.  College programs were running amok and the NCAA had no way to enforce any of it effectively and no one was taking them seriously.  But now, this could all change.

On October 30th, ESPN reported that “the NCAA’s board of directors passed a package of sweeping changes that will hold coaches more accountable for rule-breaking offenses and threaten rogue programs with longer postseason bans and fines that could cost millions of dollars.”

In another big move, they boosted their rules enforcement committee from 10 to 24, in hopes of hearing more cases and getting punishment dealt out in a proper amount of time.  This is key.  They needed to find a better way to investigate and enforce so they didn’t miss things like they did with the UNC or USC cases, and so they didn’t take four years to investigate one program.  They need to be able to expedite the process without compromising the system.

ESPN also stated, “The plan is to split the full committee into smaller panels, all of which could hear cases and allow as many as 10 meetings to take place annually instead of the five that have traditionally been held.”  Hopefully this is what is necessary, but I’m guessing that they could always increase the amount of times that they meet if they have to.

President Mark Emmert says that, “We have sought all along to remove the ‘risk-reward’ analysis that has tempted people — often because of the financial pressures to win at all costs — to break the rules in the hopes that either they won’t be caught or that the consequences won’t be very harsh if they do get caught.”  This makes sense.  Before, their enforcement was terrible and so it was worth the risk to try and exploit the system or break the rules to win and make money and hope that you slipped under the radar.  It worked for a while at some programs, in particular at USC.

ESPN also reported that, “Violators found to be in “serious breach of conduct” with aggravating circumstances could face penalties similar to those imposed on Penn State earlier this year following the Jerry Sandusky scandal — a four-year postseason ban and a $60 million fine.  Head coaches will find themselves under more scrutiny, too.  If any member of the coaching staff commits a serious infraction, the head coach must prove he or she was unaware it occurred or face a suspension ranging from 10 percent of the season to one full season. Some don’t believe it is that much to ask.”

This is another key issue.  I firmly believe that a lot of head coaches tried to make assistants fall guys and paid them off, in order to protect themselves and be able to keep their jobs.  Or they just sold them out and acted like they knew nothing in order to protect themselves.  The NCAA also created a more specific system of punishments, instead of leaving them ridiculously broad like they used to be.

The new system will include many different tiers of punishment, “the current two-tier penalty structure, for major and secondary infractions, is being scrapped for a four-level stepladder — severe breach of conduct, significant breach of conduct, breach of conduct and incidental issues. Punishment could also be impacted by charges of aggravating circumstances, or intentional violations, and mitigating circumstances that could help a school with its case.”

This is the type of system that needs to be implemented.  They needed to make things more specific and be able to break it down and have more categories other than Major and Secondary.  That way teams like Ohio State wouldn’t end up with 40 Secondary Violations in one year and then not have anything come from it.  There was too much black and white when punishing teams, and they never accounted for enough of the grey area so-to-speak.  It’s always tougher to just divide things into two categories when they aren’t that simple.

ESPN further reported, “Infractions that occur after the meeting but are not resolved before Aug. 1. 2013, will be subject to the new sanctions. Schools under investigation, such as Miami, also could be hit with the new penalties if their cases are not resolved before Aug. 1.  Last fall, the governing body passed a measure calling for tougher eligibility requirements on incoming freshmen and junior college transfers; another that tied academic performance to postseason eligibility; a third that give schools flexibility to offer multiyear scholarships or stick with the standard one-year scholarships (it withstood an override attempt); and a fourth that allowed student-athletes to collect stipends of up to $2,000.”

I personally like the idea of any unresolved cases being subject to the new punishments.  This way the schools and people involved will be sure to be far more cooperative and will stop dragging their feet.  It will be interesting to see if these new measures they tried to implement will ever go through.  There will be new meetings in January where they will evaluate the stipend plan, which did not pass.  This stipend plan would hopefully get people to give up the idea of paying collegiate athletes, an issue that I will eventually touch on in the future and why they should not be paid under any circumstances.  A stipend should be plenty, the short-version of the argument is not every athletic department can pay for players to be paid, and you have no way to determine who should be paid and why others shouldn’t be.  Then you should also have the teams with paid players in different conferences.  It’s not as cut and dry of an issue as everyone wants it to be, and it never will be.

Also to mention, during the meetings in January, the NCAA will hear proposals on potentially shrinking the NCAA rule book so that way they will get rid of their dumb rules.  One rule that they used to have, but don’t any more, is that the school’s couldn’t provide student athlete’s with cream cheese for breakfast.  It’s these types of rules that make it hard for me to take the NCAA seriously.  Perhaps now with their new rules that will give them teeth, the NCAA will gain some more respect and do their job much better.  These rule changes were utterly necessary and have been a long time coming.


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