Student Athletes, Coaches, Boosters and Athletic Directors, you have officially been warned for the last time.
The NCAA is not going to come out and say it but it is evident the Penn State Scandal was the mighty flood. After years and years of rain here and there, the past year plus has been the ’40 days’ of downpours. And Penn State proved the powerful governing body of collegiate athletics was not prepared with their Ark for the storm of biblical proportions.
Equipped to handle the student-athlete who sells her championship ring to pay for food or the coach who makes a phone call when he shouldn’t, the NCAA was caught asleep at the wheel with the academic fraud that rocked North Carolina, the anything goes Vegas style booster sugar daddy at the University of Miami and the evil that was Jerry Sandusky and the cover up at Penn State.
It is now clear NCAA President Dr. Mark Emmert has accepted the challenge of the ultimate task. Take back control of the NCAA, mend its image and assure nothing ever happens like what happened at Penn State again.
The Mission of the NCAA is clear, “ …To be an integral part of higher education and to focus on the development of our student-athletes.”
And if you read between the lines, this revival and return to the core beliefs is occurring as we speak.
On August 2, the NCAA began the process for sweeping changes to reform its policy of enforcement of its rules.
“Our intention is to make this real in October,” said Chair Ed Ray, president at Oregon State and chair of the working group which made the recommended changes. “We want the membership to have a final review. We will listen to compelling arguments for additional changes, but this is the recommendation with all the feedback we’ve gathered since our first report in January and second detailed report in April.”
The recommendations, which would take effect August 1, 2013, would dramatically change how the NCAA handles enforcement cases. Among the changes:
- 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 coaches individually accountable.
Ray told the Board coaches want change: “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.’ “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.”
In the days after you have seen Clemson University’s Dabo Sweeny change his stance and suspend Sammy Watkins for the first 2 games of the season. Sweeny had told Atlanta‘s 680 The Fan Host Chuck Oliver on air at ACC Media Days just a week prior that he was going to evaluate which games and whether it was going to be a single game or mulit-game suspension.
And now we have Tryann Mathieu’s dismissal from LSU for a failed drug test. Yes, dismissal. You know in the past Les Miles and every coach in the NCAA has looked the other way for far worse. But, as they say, the olden days are no more.
There is no doubt the NCAA has someone at every campus assuring the ripples of corruption will never develop into the tsuamni that was Penn State.
No more looking the other way. No more of, “everybody else is doing it.” No more superstar players and boosters running the show. Simply, No more.