NCAA eyeing huge changes

NCAA President Mark Emmert and 50 university presidents emerged from their retreat in Indianapolis and announced that they would be looking at possible sweeping changes in the organization. Included would be higher academic standards, including an elevated bench mark in the Academic Progress Report (930) and the possibility of setting academic requirements for inclusion into NCAA tournaments. They said they could implement such requirements as early as January.

They also talked about streamlining the rulebook and taking out many rules they considered outdated or unnecessary. There was also discussion of multi-year scholarships and of the idea of making scholarships closer to the cost of tuition. Nothing was definitively passed, but there seems to be a movement toward massive reform.

An early Associated Press story follows. I’ll post an updated one when it becomes available.

INDIANAPOLIS — NCAA presidents want to take a leaner, meaner approach to rule breakers.

On the second and final day of the governing body’s presidential retreat, 56 presidents and a handful of other university leaders spent nearly four hours discussing ways to simplify the massive 439-page Division I rulebook and punish those schools with the most serious violations.

“I think there is a very strong sense among presidents and chancellors that we need to be very clear and very severe where infractions do exist and that we want to send a message about certain behaviors,” said Oregon State president Ed Ray, chairman of the NCAA’s executive committee. “There needs to be very serious penalties for very serious violations.”

Ray said the group did not discuss any potential sanctions, deferring instead to a working group that is expected to make recommendations to the full membership.

NCAA president Mark Emmert has repeatedly said he favors stronger punishments, especially for the most egregious infractions.

And it may not take legislation to deliver change.

Postseason bans and television bans remain options for the NCAA’s infractions committee, though they have been used sparingly over the past decade. Last year, USC became the first Football Bowl Subdivision school to be hit with a postseason ban since Alabama’s two-year ban ended in 2003. No FBS team has faced a TV ban since 1996.

The NCAA began debating a new get-tough approach in October 2008, and the recent spate of high-profile cases involving some of college sports’ heaviest hitters has forced university leaders to take a more urgent approach.

The list includes:

• Southern Cal’s football team, which was stripped of its 2004 national title for rules infractions that also forced Reggie Bush to give back his Heisman Trophy.

• Connecticut’s men’s basketball team, which was found to have committed recruiting infractions two months before winning its third national championship.

• Football teams at Auburn and Oregon, last season’s two BCS finalists. The NCAA determined Cam Newton was not aware of his father’s pay-for-play recruitment scheme. Newton went on to win the Heisman Trophy and lead Auburn to the national title. Oregon is under NCAA investigation for allegedly paying $25,000 to a recruiting service that is accused of steering a recruit to the program.

• Tennessee, which is awaiting a ruling on alleged recruiting violations in its football and men’s basketball programs.

• Ohio State, where football coach Jim Tressel resigned amid an investigation into players receiving cash and tattoos for autographs, championship rings and equipment. Tressel allegedly did not notify the school’s compliance department when he was made aware of possible violations.

• North Carolina, where football coach Butch Davis recently was fired after allegations surfaced about improper benefits going to players and academic misconduct.

It certainly has had an effect on this week’s meetings in Indianapolis.

“You’d be foolish to say that nobody has been paying attention to this over the last year or two or three,” Ray said. “It’s not any one case in particular, but the cumulative effect. I think there’s a realization that the last time we went through the rules and regulations was probably 1999 or 2000 and things have changed a lot since then.”

If all goes well, things could be changing a lot more.

There is a general consensus, Ray said, that the rules need simplification.

“For example, instead of 1,000 or 10,000 rules, we need to determine what are the 100 most important things,” he said after the morning session.

Ray has plenty of support.

The NCAA’s leadership council said last week it is working on a formal proposal to deregulate electronic communications and allow unlimited contact between coaches and recruits after Aug. 1 of the player’s junior year.

It’s a message that has resonated among the presidents.

“There is a lot of interest, energy and enthusiasm about reform,” Indiana University president Michael McRobbie said.

That sentiment was also expressed by Kansas State president Kirk Schultz, who was tweeting from inside the meeting room. He questioned how many rules were necessary to police college sports and said there was considerable discussion about requiring head coaches to take responsibility for all aspects of their programs, including what assistant coaches do.

Ray said the group also discussed policing professional agents, though the presidents intend to let Julie Roe Lach, the NCAA’s vice president for enforcement, and her staff work on those issues before sending a proposal to the full membership.

Emmert is not expected to speak until the afternoon session concludes.

On Tuesday, the presidents discussed the possibility of providing scholarships to cover the full cost of attendance at a school, instead of just room, board, tuition and fees, and multiyear scholarships instead of the one-year scholarships now used in college sports.

6 comments

  1. The only way they will cut down on the cheating is to punish the coaches instead of the school.

    When Calipari gets busted, he just goes to a new school to do it again while the school gets nailed.

  2. Well cutting down the cheating and punishment should not only go with the school but the Coaches that do the cheating. I think the NCAA is on the right track but they also have to have rules not only for the College students but also the Coaches of those teams. We will see how it turns out. I think changes are good when it pervers College sports. We will see. Good Luck NCAA…

  3. I agree with Laffy. Lane Kiffin is an example in football in the same way Calipari is in basketball. And of course our old buddy Cellvin ….

  4. Laffy,
    While I agree that the coaches need to be punished, it unfortunately isn’t always feasible. Show Cause rulings can help in some cases, but the NCAA cannot touch the $21+ million that Tressel “earned” at O$U. I don’t know what the NCAA could really do to punish someone that doesn’t need to work again. Only the school would have the ability to seek relief from a coach that violated their contract by breaking NCAA rules.

    Ideally the NCAA would come down hard enough on the schools so that there is better internal policing of their coaches, and/or cause schools to seek legal relief against coaches that create blatantly violate NCAA rules.

  5. Suspend them from coaching for 5 years if they get caught. Or ban them entirely if the cheating was bad enough.

    Yes, they can go to the NBA or just sit around because “they have money”, but coaching is in their blood.

    And I don’t think they want to be an assistant coach in the NBA like Sampson. Even if they got a head coaching job there, I think most prefer college.

  6. I agree with the idea of suspending coaches if they get caught breaking rules. The NCAA has used this tool very (too) sparingly. So sparingly that it doesn’t seem like much of a deterrant.

    When coaches have the option of working in the pro ranks an NCAA suspension isn’t enough. Pete Carrol left USC for the NFL when it got too hot.

    OSU has spent over $800,000 so far in their NCAA case and will certainly spend much more. They will also suffer financially from NCAA sanctions. USC also took a huge financial hit from their violations. It’s time for the schools to start holding their coaches responsible for their actions. I would love to see OSU sue Tressel for damages based upon breach of contract.

    As long as coaches have other options (pro leagues) or have earned enough money to live out their lives comfortably, you will have rule violations. Schools have to be held accountable for holding their coaches accountable. Cheating coaches need to be sued by their employers. Hitting them in the pocket book along with NCAA suspensions would make most coaches think twice.

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