Structure and Sanctions: NCAA Chronicles

By Joseph Nardone
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The NCAA has over 400 pages of rules. They are contradictory to the point of humorous while still obtaining the highest level of confusion possible. But still, they are rules the NCAA has set forth for student-athletes and universities to follow. If they don’t, they will likely feel the unforgiving wrath from a diabolical building in Indianapolis. However, one has to wonder, how does something so inept actually work? Let me explain.


Oh fickle NCAA, you are so cute, you’re broken down into cabinets and committees. Each of those bad boys are represented by all different kinds of folks from multiple institutions of higher-learning. Both the cabinets and committees can be broken down to sub-committees as well. These are the first levels of infrastructure the NCAA has while reviewing rules, hovering over possible violations, or figuring out what to order for lunch. But wait, there’s more.

Anything that makes it past those fine people head to the Management Council, consisted of Athletic Directors and Faculty Directors, you know those credibility built folks. Hold your breathe, any legislation that gets passed here must travel a little bit further before reaching its final destination. If the Management Council, in their infinite wisdom, decides that legislation is awesome they send it up to the Board of Directors. Who are they you ask, just some good old-fashioned school presidents. You know, people who can remain completely unbiased(While not losing an ounce of integrity or credibility) while making decisions that will have a direct financial impact on universities they oversee.

I hope you’re not confused. Although, if you are, I’ll summarize it at the end.


The NCAA awards 87 National Championships every year although they don’t actually sanction the Division I FBS National Title. Meaning the FBS I National Champion is, in a word, fake. The NCAA is the governing body of college sports, the end all be all, if they’re not the ones sanctioning the title, did it really exist to begin with(Technically, no)? Instead, the NCAA has decided to let outside parties determine, for the universities they govern, who is deserving of a Division I FBS National Title.

It actually continues to get a little stranger. As with every sport, but football, gets rewarded by an actual NCAA trophy. The governing body of college sports likes to keep it classy. First place gets some gold, second brings in the sliver, while third settles for some bronze(Just like the Olympics!). That doesn’t sound horrible. Well, until you dig a little bit deeper.

Division I FCS and the two lower levels are really neat. Those crazy small schools, with less financial incentive mind you, have been using a playoff system since way back in day. Like every sport under NCAA rule, except Division I FBS football, they are entitled to a trophy inscribed with the letters “NCAA” on it as well as coming in the same fashion of gold, silver, or bronze.

There is a reason those Division I FBS rascals don’t get to have fancy pants “NCAA” letters or have an Olympic style trophy scheme, money of course. All other sports have the right to have a trophy called an “NCAA Title” because the NCAA does not award a Division I FBS title, they leave that up to a series of contrived, money making systems. Systems such as the AP, USA Today, and the glorious BCS. All the conferences have approved all of the various National Title deciders since way back in 1998(Even though plenty of the smaller programs have cried monopoly over the years).

Somehow, I think that Division I FBS felt a little left out as they are now adopting a playoff system for some reason. Oh, it wasn’t so they can join all the other sports and be recognized by the NCAA, they’re doing it for the cash.


I try to keep these things as simple as I can(So even I can understand what I’m talking about), so when it gets to this point I can add some opinions to the matter while summing up the whole debacle. There is obviously major problems with the how the NCAA is currently structured. College sports is a multi-billion dollar business, leaving people who are even remotely tied to the money responsible is horrendous. That is the equivalent of a Casino based odds-maker being allowed to place bets at the place of his employment. Understandably the NCAA is trying to keep its roots in the academic world. But let us be clear, there is no way that any job the NCAA is doing, while having employees with direct ties to universities, can be done in an unbiased nature. There will be far more discussion on this when I release the “Overhaul” piece in the series.

As far as the NCAA sanctions, it really speaks for itself. For years the NCAA came up with nonsensical reasons as to why major college football couldn’t have a playoff despite all the lower levels already using the format. One of their biggest hypocritical suggestions was that they were just trying to keep the kids in school more, because you know, those 6 game tournaments for basketball in March sure keep the kids in class. While doing research, it was interesting to find out just how deep the ridiculousness is of what the NCAA does and doesn’t sanction. It basically came down to, if you’re a sport that has the potential to make a lot of loot, we will rent out our National Title to the highest bidder.

Since the NCAA is actually a non-profit, tax exempt organization, you wouldn’t think they’d care about money. Oh, remember that the NCAA’s employees are all people who work in schools that will benefit from such a whoring-out? Because I do.

The structure of the NCAA and the sanctions it carries is vital while looking at the NCAA. It lets us all in on what has been public record, while tax-exempt and filing their business paperwork as a non-profit, the people employed there have a lot riding on how much money it helps to generate. Because they are not only employed by the NCAA but also by the schools they are there to govern.

I’m not sure what the motto is that the NCAA has in their office hallways, but I do have a suggestion as I’m sure they already live by this creed..

Hypocrisy for the prize of money. To fulfill the greed that gluttony brings. At the sake of student-athletes.

This is part two of our series of articles chronicling the NCAA from its birth to its inevitable demise. If you missed past one, just move your mouse right HERE and give it a little click(Double taps not recommended).

Update: For the third entry in the series just click this like to Modern Era and Controversies and for the final entry Overhaul or Demise.

Joe covers the Catholic Seven for Rant Sports. For the love of Sam Cassell, follow Joe on the Twitter Machine @JosephNardone


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