NCAA to fast track Changes . . .

. . . regarding rulings on investigations, also adding more teeth to sanctions.

One of the gripes against the NCAA is that they always take forever to investigate, determine sanctions, implement same, and storied programs never seem to get it because the penalties are not significant enough to force changes--the risk does not outweigh the benefit. It seems the myriad complaints and editorials have prompted a response. These changes are not insignificant and seem to be aimed at recent cases and criticisms of the NCAA:

• Switching from the current two-tier violation structure to four tiers, to provide more flexibility. • Increasing the size of the Committee on Infractions, which hears all the cases, from 10 up to 24. This would allow panels formed from this larger pool to hear cases on a more regular basis and allow cases to be resolved more efficiently. • Expanding the make-up of the committee members to include current or former university presidents, vice presidents or other senior administrators, current and former directors of athletics, former NCAA coaches, conference officials, faculty, athletics administrators with compliance experience and members of the general public with a legal background. • Creating new penalty guidelines to hold those who step outside the accepted code of conduct more accountable for their actions. The new guidelines would allow the Committee some discretion, although limited, in prescribing penalties while also assuring stronger and consistently applied penalties. • Enforcing the fact that head coaches set the tone and culture for compliance within the program. When there is failure by the head coach to fulfill these expectations, the new enforcement model holds head caches individually accountable.

So, adding more teeth, more committee members to move the backlog of cases forward, responding more rapidly and with an eye toward tougher sanctions, think someone is trying to send a message that they are sick of entitled programs always skating by, of the larger issue of some programs consistently bending rules and winking at the committee? Let's hope the changes are real, and thoughtful and not merely a petulant response to criticism.

From the NCAA's site:

Coaches come to me and say, ‘I feel like a chump. I’m trying to do things the right way and I have peers who laugh at me because I don’t play the game and bend the rules the way they do,’" Ray said. "That’s got to stop … Most coaches are terrific people who love their student-athletes, try to do it the right way, try to have the right values and succeed. They’re very frustrated. This has got to stop. I think most coaches are saying it’s about time. We want a level playing field.

New violation structure summarized (verbatim from their site):

• Level I: Severe breach of conduct

A violation which seriously undermines or threatens the integrity of the NCAA enduring values (student-athlete success, the collegiate model, amateurism as a student model, competitive equity), including any violation which provides or is intended to provide a significant recruiting or competitive advantage, or a significant impermissible benefit. Multiple violations from other categories may collectively be considered a severe breach of conduct. Individual conduct that is unethical may be classified as a severe breach of conduct, even if the underlying institutional violations are not classified in this category.

• Level II: Significant breach of conduct

A violation that provides or is intended to provide minimal to significant recruiting or competitive advantage; or includes a minimal to significant impermissible benefit; or involves a pattern of systemic violations in a particular area. Multiple violations from other, less-serious categories may collectively be considered a significant breach of conduct. Some limited individual conduct that is unethical or dishonest may be classified as in this category, even if the underlying institutional violations are not classified as significant.

• Level III: Breach of Conduct

A violation that is isolated or limited in nature; provides no more than a minimal recruiting, competitive or other advantage; and does not include more than a minimal impermissible benefit. Multiple Level IV violations may collectively be considered a breach of conduct.

• Level IV: Incidental Issue

An incidental infraction is a minor infraction that is inadvertent and isolated, technical in nature and results in a negligible, if any, competitive advantage. Level IV infractions generally will not impact eligibility for intercollegiate athletics.

Cases involving severe and significant breaches of conduct will be further categorized into three sublevels based on the presence of aggravating or mitigating factors.

Enhanced penalties include suspension of head coaches and hammering programs with restrictions based on the Penn State response (4 year post season bans). Think they are tired of looking lame and toothless?

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