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NCAA Prez Talks Like A Man Who’s About To Drop The Hammer

Back on April 6th, we wrote the following column: “If the NCAA wants to clean up sports, it needs to drop the hammer.”

In our view, the only way to truly begin to curtail cheating is to scare the living hell out of coaches and school administrators.  The risks of cheating have to be made to far, far outweigh any possible rewards that may come from rule-bending.

Well it sounds like the NCAA is on the verge of doing just that.  Yesterday, new NCAA president Mark Emmert said he want schools found guilty of cheating to pay stiffer penalties.  “We need to make sure our penalty structure and enforcement process imposes a thoughtful level of concern, and that the cost of violating the rules costs more than not violating them.”

It’s believed the NCAA’s new enforcement plans will be revealed in June, but Emmert touched on a couple of possible tweaks yesterday:


* “We’ve made the commitment to provide enforcement with more staff.  Some staff has been added.  It isn’t really more investigators in the field, but it’s freeing up more people to get them out in the field.”

* “I personally would like to see whether we can have two, three or five different sort of categories (of violations, as opposed to just ‘major’ and ‘secondary’ violations) and maybe that would make the cases go a little more expeditiously.”


Vice president for enforcement Julie Roe Lach made it clear that the NCAA wants to snuff out third-parties who might profit from a player’s signature with a school.  But she also suggested that won’t be an easy fix.

(Specifically, Roe Lach said of the Cam Newton case: “There’s no evidence money ever changed hands.  It was just solicitation, an unsuccessful solicitation.”  Of course, that’s enough to get you arrested in a prostitution case.)

Paying players does not sound like a “fix” that Emmert — or anyone with the ability to think three steps down the road — favors:

“If you have to pay student-athletes, what are you going to pay them,” Emmert asked.  “How much?  Does everybody get the same?  Do you pay the quarterback the same as the guy who never steps on the field?  Do you pay the women’s gymnast the same amount as the men’s basketball team?

“They have to unionize, I suppose.  Then are we going to do a work stoppage or lockout if they don’t like the way they’re playing?  That model exists.  It’s called the NFL, the NBA and Major League Baseball.”

Not to mention the fact that not every FBS school — Wake Forest, for example — can toss around cash like the Texases, Ohio States, and Floridas of the world.

Emmert and Roe Lach spoke as the NCAA wound up its first ever “Enforcement Experience” exercise in Indianapolis.  Media members from across the country were invited to take part in the session in an effort to give the media and fans a better idea of how the NCAA polices its members and why one case can vary so wildly from another case.

Kyle Veazey of The Jackson Clarion-Ledger and Andrew Gribble of The Knoxville News Sentinel took part in the exercise and wrote about the experience here: Veazey’s take and Gribble’s take.

The bottom line on all of this is as follows:


* The NCAA desperately needs to become more efficient in the way it handles violations.

* Emmert appears to be changing the body’s general direction with regards to enforcement in an effort to streamline the process… for the sake of that aforementioned efficiency.

* The best way to cut down on cheating is to create more painful penalties for rule-breaking schools and coaches.

* Emmert seems to understand that point as well.


Which means now is not the best time for schools to be facing NCAA investigators. 

The schools have been warned.

 




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