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NCAA Prez Talks Rules, We Talk Loopholes

rule-book-holyThe NCAA rule book is too thick.

To quote Dan Aykroyd as Bob Dole: “You know it, I know it, and the American people know it.”  NCAA president Mark Emmert knows it, too.

At yesterday’s NCAA convention in Grapevine, Texas, Emmert admitted the following:


“It turns out we know how to write rules.  One of the problems is sometimes we write lots and lots and lost of rules…

Just as the shiny side of the competition has the side that can also bring dysfunction to it, so too can the regulatory side.  And we have to recognize that as we try to balance that coin on its edge.”


Emmert’s comments come as the NCAA is re-working its rule book and trying to make things simpler.  Coaches and fans have been yelping for such action for years.

But there’s a problem that comes with ripping pages from the NCAA manual — less rules will mean more loopholes.  Less black-and-white will mean more gray.

Let’s look back at the Cam Newton situation as an example.  As Auburn was roaring toward the BCS title in 2010, all eyes focused on Newton as it became clear that his father had asked some Mississippi State boosters for cash in exchange for his son’s signature.  But Newton was not punished.  First, he supposedly had no idea of his father’s actions.  Second, Newton signed with Auburn, not MSU.  Third, no smoking gun was ever found tying Auburn to alleged payments.  So Newton played.  Auburn won.  And everything — especially on The Plains — was hunky-dory.

But should a parent be able to ask for cash in exchange for his son’s services on a football field or basketball court?  Obviously the answer is no.  So the NCAA closed the so-called Newton loophole at last year’s convention.  The rule-makers decided to expand the definition of an agent to include third-party influences including parents.  Meaning that if a player’s parent — acting as an agent — has his or her hand out asking for loot, the player will be ruled ineligible just as quickly as if an agent had tried to broker a deal for him.  No cash has to even change hands.  Ask for money, your kid is ineligible.

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Slive Tabbed As College Football’s Most Influential Person

The folks over at Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal have ventured to rank the most influential people in college football.  Their top pick is no surprise — SEC commissioner Mike Slive:


“If the ultimate test of influence is getting everyone else to do what you want them to do, Slive is clearly the most influential figure in college football today. A little more than four years after he presented that initial playoff proposal, it came to pass this year. The format, which goes into effect for the 2014 season, looks very much like the model that Slive first presented, with two semifinal games being played in bowl venues, followed by a national championship game a week later.”


Others on the list…

* Big Ten commish (and occasional SEC critic) Jim Delany ranks #2 just behind Slive

* John Skipper and Burke Mangus of ESPN rank #3 right above…

* NCAA president Mark Emmert at #4

* Alabama coach Nick Saban comes it at #15, the highest ranking for any coach

* Florida AD Jeremy Foley is #22

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SEC Headlines – 6/13/12

1.  NCAA president Mark Emmert does a Q&A with The New York Times.  (He again denies having had any conversations about returning to LSU.)

2.  Don’t expect any quick playoff solutions to come out of Chicago.

3. has posted their SEC football predictions.

4.  Care for some basketball recruiting rankings?

5.  If you’re not a fan of bizarro uniforms then you probably won’t like what Maryland is rumored to be considering for its new football field.

6.  The alleged shooter in the murder of two former Auburn football players and another man turned himself in to authorities last night.

7.  Proving that there are always two sides to a story, Desmonte Leonard has his share of supporters.  Amazing.

8.  Meanwhile, funeral arrangements have been set for those killed in Saturday night’s shooting.

9.  Sadly, Auburn isn’t the only SEC school that’s had to deal with the death of athletes in recent years.

10.  Gene Chizik said yesterday his emotions over “an incredibly difficult 72 hours” have included “disbelief, outrage, and devastation.”

11. The fans figure to play an important role at Mississippi State during Dan Mullen’s fourth year on the job.

12.  Meet Ole Miss linebacker Ralph Williams… the 55th most important Rebel in 2012.  (Yes, this countdown basically includes everyone.)

13.  Former Texas A&M and MSU coach Jackie Sherrill believes the SEC will go to 16 teams and a nine-game schedule sooner rather than later.  (Does anyone know why Sherrill has become the go-to ex-coach for SEC speculation?)

14.  Florida is working hard to sell season tickets for football.

It’s a big news day in Athens apparently…

15.  Georgia and Georgia Tech are going at it Twitter style…

16.  Former cornerback Chris Sanders is hoping to return to UGA…

17.  And the discipline for current corner Branden Smith still hasn’t been disclosed.

18.  Derek Dooley says his staff has “done a lot of things (to improve) leadership and team chemistry” at Tennessee.

19.  UT and Xavier have officially lined up a home-and-home basketball series.

20.  Missouri officials are confident that a fan charged with drug offenses — a fan who on occasion traveled with the basketball teamdid not have any improper influence on players and did not give players gifts.


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NCAA Prez Sees BCS Changes Coming… But No Playoff

The BCS title game is set and it features a rematch of a regular season game between two teams from the same conference, one of whom technically didn’t win a single prize all year.

To folks inside that conference — the SEC — it’s no big deal.  To people outside the South, it’s darn near conniption time.  For that reason, none other than NCAA president Mark Emmert expects the current BCS system to get a few more tweaks this offseason:

“After this season, I think there will be the beginning of a great debate on what the model looks like.  It’s changed a couple of times in its short history and I wouldn’t be surprised if it changed again.”

When asked if a playoff might be in the offing, Emmert said no.

“That becomes a demand that is physically enormous for these students.  It becomes a huge academic strain on them because you’re playing ball right through final and into the next semester.”

Someone might want to inform the prez that the 2011-12 FCS playoff schedule began November 26th and runs right through its championship game on January 7th of next year.

Double-talk and excuses aside, the best fans can hope for is a plus-one model at this point.  And a seeded plus-one model — a Football Final Four, if you will — should allow any squad with a legitimate claim at the title to vie for it on the field.

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NCAA Makes Major Changes

The Division I board of directors for the NCAA has adopted a package of proposals that will bring about some major changes in college sports.

You can read the NCAA’s press release right here.

For now, know that…

1.  Academic requirements are going up

2.  Teams will have to have better academic numbers to qualify for postseason play (good luck filling all those bowl games with winning teams)

3.  Athletes will now face tougher initial eligibility standards comings out of high school

4.  Athletes will now receive up to $2,000 extra as part of a full-cost-of-attendance scholarship plan

5.  Schools will now have the option of offering full-term-of-eligibility scholarships as well as the current one-year offers (which means coaches — especially those at smaller programs — can offer four-year scholarships as a recruiting incentive)

Plenty of media pundits have spent the past year criticizing new NCAA president Mark Emmert for being “all talk.”  Well he and the board of directors did more than talk today.  They implemented some sweeping changes.

Whether those changes will help or hurt college sports remains to be seen.

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NCAA Prez Emmert Won’t Close Door On Newton/Auburn Probe

At the SEC spring meetings, Gene Chizik was told by NCAA top cop Julie Roe-Lach that the investigation into Cam Newton’s recruitment was still alive.

Today, NCAA president Mark Emmert refused to close the door on the investigation when given a chance by nationally-syndicated radio host Dan Patrick:

“We don’t talk about investigations, but when they’re closed, they’re closed.  They will continue to look at anything they have available in any of these situations until they’ve reached a conclusion that there’s nothing more to discover in any of these cases.”

When Patrick suggested that he could then assume the investigation was still open because he hadn’t heard anyone say it was closed, Emmert said: “You can make your assumptions.  That’s fine.”

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The A&M/SEC Mating Dance – Morning Edition

With Texas A&M’s decision yesterday to give president R. Bowen Loftin the power to explore conference alignment options, the school and the Southeastern Conference continued to glide toward one another in what appears to be a pretty elaborate mating dance.  For decades the two parties have talked behind closed doors, flirted, and — as was the case last summer — come tantalizingly close to consummating their relationship.  This thing is Ross and Rachel on a much larger and much more entertaining scale.

We’ll have plenty of opinion as the day wears on, but first we wanted to get you up to speed on what everyone else is saying this morning. 

Some claim that the SEC and A&M will get together in just a matter of days.  Others are claiming that in the end the Aggies will stay put in the Big 12.  But as we’ve noted before — and has been proven out time and again — when you’re talking about major moves like this, the safe bet is to expect smaller moves and slower periods of time than the Twitter/messageboard crowd want to suggest. 

There’s a whole lot of disinformation being kicked around right now.  Remember that — as we try to do — while sifting through all of the following opinions:

1.  Andy Staples of provides an excellent overview for those who are trying to come to grips with the ins and outs of this process.

2.  Ron Higgins of The Memphis Commercial-Appeal caught up with former SEC commish Roy Kramer and ex-A&M/MSU coach Jackie Sherrill to discuss the A&M/SEC situation.  Sherrill says the deal will go through and that attorneys for the SEC slowed down the chase.  Kramer explains why A&M wants out of the Big 12:

“From Day 1 in our league, everybody was on equal footing and that was especially important in our previous expansion process.  Nobody was going to get a special deal to join the league, everybody was going to be one and the same.  That unity has always been one of the great strengths in this conference.

A&M and some of those other Big 12 schools face some tough, hard decisions, because they’ve allowed that (Texas) situation to go on.  That’s no way to run a railroad the way they (the Big 12) are trying to run that one.  You can’t have one engine running down a track that’s totally separate from the other 11 engines.”

3.  Sherrill also believes that recruiting will improve for A&M and the SEC’s schools (Arkansas especially) if/when the parties unite.

4.  Sam Mellinger of The Kansas City Star has a source who believes A&M will wind up staying in the Big 12.

5.  The story is now making the rounds that a recent phone conversation between Mike Slive and Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe became quite heated.

UPDATE — Apparently Beebe didn’t view the conversation as “heated.”

6. brings you a simplified breakdown of how ESPN — which has way too many fingers in way too many pies — will wind up at the center of this entire situation.  The network’s deal with Texas might force the Big 12 to break up… which could save the network money on its Big 12 contract… but could cost the network more money on the SEC end if A&M moves east.  Follow that?  Clay Travis does an excellent job of laying out the details right here.  (This beats the hell out of following the SportsByBrooks’ “release a photo and gossip” model.  Kudos to Travis for this one.)

7.  Dennis Dodds of provides further info on ESPN’s involvement in this mess.

8.  Here’s an overview of the situation from a University of Texas perspective.

9.  The New York Times reports that NCAA president Mark Emmert is talking to conference commissioners about trying to handle expansion in a less canibalistic way.  (One, he has no power to enforce that and two, has any conference thanked another for taking one of its teams?  I don’t recall the Big Ten catching heat for swiping Nebraska.  Of the Pac-12 for trying to grab half the Big 12.)

10.  The Washington Post jumps on the “it’s all about the money” train.  (Can someone please point out to me a business that is not all about the money?)

11.  Some are already pushing Texas politicians to push (in turn) Houston into the Big 12 as a replacement for A&M… which hasn’t officially left yet.

12.  A&M’s president said he’s going to take his time in making a “100-year decision.”

13.  A political battle is brewing over all of this.  Some Texas, Texas Tech and Baylor backing politicians are already floating the idea that A&M’s departure might lead to economic destruction for the state.  (Yeesh.)  Well, Texas governor Rick Perry — a powerful A&M alum — is trying to downplay such spin:

“I’m sure when the Southwest Conference was disintegrated, there were those who thought it was the end of the world.  I’m sure when Colorado and Nebraska left (the Big 12) to go to their respective conferences, there were naysayers.  My instinct is that no matter what happens, we’ll wake up and the sun will still come up from the east.”

14.  It looks like Texas is leaning toward not playing A&M if the Aggies leave the Big 12.  Where’s the political pressure telling the Longhorns that they’ll hurt the Lone Star State if they act so selfishly?

15.  Andy Kats of looks at A&M-to-the-SEC from a hoops perspective.

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NCAA Wants To Get Tougher On Cheaters

As the NCAA wrapped up its presidential retreat today, two things have become clear:

1) The NCAA wants to simplify its rulebooks.

2) The NCAA feels it needs to deliver harsher punishments for serious rule violations.

Nothing new there.  Mark Emmert has been saying as much for several months.  Oregon State president Ed Ray — who is also the chairman of the NCAA’s executive committee — broke down the chatter at this week’s retreat as follows:

“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.  There needs to be very serious penalties for very serious violations.”

If you’re an SEC fan, that can’t sound good.  Not with the amount of dirt being flung around the league these days.

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Emmert Says Higher GPA Is “An Active Proposal”

When Mike Slive put forth his “agenda for change” at SEC Media Days last month, football coaches cringed.  The commissioner was raising the possibility of raising standards — academic standards included — for athletes and programs and by definition that will make coaches have to work harder in the future.  If such standard-raisings are actually made.

NCAA president Mark Emmert has told’s Dennis Dodd that Slive’s proposed move from 2.0 to 2.5 (for incoming athletes’ core GPAs) is already being pushed:

“Many of the issues that Mike and others have described have been works in progress for some time.  Going from 2.0 to 2.5 is an active proposal that is coming out of the committee on academic performance. …

I was delighted that Mike (and Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany) and all those putting proposals out there are doing so.  It’s a different day when commissioners are almost in competition to see who can come up with the best reform package.”

Indeed it is.  And with the exception of cost-of-attendance scholarships, most coaches won’t be pleased with the reform ideas being discussed.

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ACC Commish Jumps On The Slive Train

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that ACC commissioner John Swofford’s opening speech from his league’s media days event mirrored that of SEC commissioner Mike Slive.  NCAA president Mark Emmert has a plan.  League commissioners across the country are aware of his goals they want to get onboard.  Also, other BCS commissioners don’t want to appear as though they’re only looking inward toward their own football season while Slive and the SEC are looking outward to the very future of college athletics.  (You can expect Dan Beebe, Larry Scott, Jim Delany, an others to discuss NCAA reform in the coming days.)

Tweaking the “major/secondary” violation system.  Cost-of-attendance scholarships.  Multi-year scholarships.  The biggies of Slive’s plan were right there in Swofford’s speech.  All leading into next month’s NCAA retreat to discuss potential changes to the system.

While all of these visionary ideas won’t come to pass, fans should expect that a few of them — maybe even many of them — will someday become reality.  The NCAA president and conference commissioners work for university presidents.  If the commissioners are speaking of bold change, it’s likely they’ve talked about such plans with their own leagues’ administrators.

In other words, a consensus for change is forming.

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