The Time is now for Real Change at NCAA

The time has come for a complete overhaul of the NCAA and the way it investigates infractions. I know, you were hoping I would say it’s time to blow the entire organization up and start all over, but it isn’t. And if you think in terms of the big picture, hopefully that day will never come.

Here is what I know about the NCAA: It is really good at hosting tournaments at all levels, and it is really good about making the collegiate student-athlete experience great for 99% involved. What it is not good at is investigating and enforcing penalties infractions against the 1%. I’m Catholic, which means I know nothing about math, but for the sake of this argument the 1% here are 120 member schools that belong to Division 1-A (FBS).

At the very top level the organization doesn’t appear to have the chops or the staff to enforce penalties or to even conduct fair investigations. Often the investigations take many years to complete and penalties meted out by the different Committees on Infractions (COI) aren’t consistent.

Look, I know, these people don’t have subpoena power, but investigators and the COI need to use that to their advantage. If a person is not willing to cooperate with the COI or its investigators then don’t punish them or whomever you’re investigating. Move on and give that person or school the benefit of the doubt.

DM to COI: you are not a de facto grand jury, and to think you are is as distasteful as it sounds.

This week NCAA President Mark Emmert announced there was a significant problem with the investigation involving Miami (FL) and how it was able to obtain information. The NCAA admitted that it caught itself paying Nevin Shapiro’s attorney for information. Most of the facts are not available because the NCAA is conducting an external investigation of its entire enforcement division.

The perception we have of the NCAA and how it investigates and enforces the crimes of the few is pretty bad. College presidents and industry observers have been asking for a complete overhaul of the entire system. They want to make the rule book and penalties simpler, and if this investigation and the problems that arose from it don’t hasten those changes nothing will.

Unfortunately for those who may have been wrongly persecuted or over-penalized in the past, this won’t help you. But if it reduces the chances of current or future student-athletes and coaches from paying for the sins of their predecessors, then any change is 100% better. When the COI hands out bowl bans or reduces scholarships against schools like Penn State, USC, Alabama, etc. and the primary actors have already left the schools the only people they are hurt are student-athletes.

I know, most of you think the athletes should get paid, while I argue they already are, but that isn’t the point. The point is punish those who commit the crimes, and if they are out of reach punish those who enable them to do so. If this means taking significant amounts of money from schools, do so. If this means giving scholarships to non-student-athletes, do so.

Case in point; Ohio State’s athletic program is one of the few in the country that generates a profit through its athletic program. If the NCAA had taken its profit after expenses, while leaving all scholarship and post-season opportunities intact, I promise you other schools would have paid attention. For schools that don’t generate yearly profits through its athletic department, take money from the universities, but not from tax payers or at risk of reducing non-student-athlete scholarships.

Taking money is a better penalty than taking scholarships away from teenager’s who didn’t sell rings or buy their mothers cars or houses with booster money. Don’t believe me, ask Penn State, they’d gladly hand over $60 or even $120 million dollars instead of having to deal with reduced scholarships and a long-term post-season ban.

The changes I’ve suggested aren’t likely, so what are your ideas on better NCAA penalty enforcement? !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");