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College Basketball

NCAA looks at smaller rulebook, tougher penalties

Posted August 10, 2011
Updated August 11, 2011

— NCAA leaders are ready to give college sports a complete overhaul.

They want to simplify the massive 439-page Division I rulebook, enforce stronger penalties for rule-breakers, increase academic standards and link academic performance to possible postseason bans. And if NCAA President Mark Emmert gets his way, all of this would be approved in the next 12 months.

"We all agree the NCAA rulebook needs some serious editing," Emmert said. "We'd love to probably throw the rulebook out and start all over again, but that's actually impractical."

NCAA, university leaders agree: Rulebook is too complex

Emmert said he'd consider some changes as soon as October, and expected a complete proposal by April 2012.

Kevin White, director of athletics at Duke University, said, "I think it’s a pretty tall objective, but at the end of the day, I think there is a fierce interest in just protecting if you will the integrity of the entire intercollegiate enterprise.”

It's a far cry from the stodgy, deliberative days of past NCAA administrations.

"I think a lot of people feel that college athletics is a little bit at-risk, if not broken, so this is a time to shore it up," said Kevin White, athletic director at Duke University.

"What's different is a lot of things have reached a boiling point," Penn State president Graham Spanier said after Emmert's two-day presidential retreat wrapped up Wednesday. "The board of directors has the authority to make some decisions that it has been reluctant to do before, but I think the presidents have reached a point where they're saying too many things are not working well. So the board needs to take stronger actions from the top."

Thursday's board meeting represents the first test to see if that will happen.

A new cutline for the Academic Progress Rate, the calculation used to evaluate whether each team at a school is making sufficient progress toward graduation, was already on the docket. The current cutline is 925. Emmert wants it increased to 930 immediately and perhaps higher in future years.

Failure to meet the cutline, Emmert said, should result in postseason bans in all sports.

"It's very realistic and it will happen very quickly, meaning this year," Emmert said. "I think the most important component is how quickly you implement it, so there have been discussions about a sliding scale implementing it two or three years. But we will set that standard very, very quickly and I know the presidents believe that is critical."

Emmert said he also embraces stronger academic standards for incoming freshmen and junior college transfers. The changes could require freshmen to post higher GPAs and take more core courses in high school, and introduce a sliding scale that incorporates standardized test scores. Junior college transfers also may have to meet new academic standards.

NCAA NCAA looks at tougher penalties for rule breakers

All three have been debated for months in committees, but Emmert wants the presidents to take action now.

It's just the start.

The NCAA is planning a major rewrite of its complicated rulebook to shed regulations that many in the meetings agreed were unenforceable or nitpicky.

Instead, the presidents plan to put coaches, school administrators and boosters on notice: Breaking the rules now will be costly, though Emmert would not speculate on any possible new sanctions.

"You can't legislate integrity," Emmert said. "But you can define it, and you can insist on it and that's what we intend to do."

The infractions committee could bring back the postseason bans and television bans that became the norm in the 1980s, punishments that never came off the books but have rarely been used over the past decade. Last year, Southern California became the first Football Bowl Subdivision school to get a postseason ban since Alabama's two-year ban ended in 2003. No FBS team has faced a TV ban since 1996.

It's something that's been debated among the membership since October 2008.

A working group is expected to study other possibilities and come up with a standardized list of possible penalties based on the severity of the infractions.

”I’d be very surprised if there wasn’t some pretty significant reform in January,” White said.

Emmert indicated he wanted to academic expectations, with those who fail to meet them sitting out of the postseason, including the lucrative and high-profile NCAA Basketball Tournament.

"Some of these things our coaches and our boosters might not like, but I think we need to do what you're going to see in the next year," Spanier said. "I think coaches and boosters should now be afraid if they go out and break the rules now because we're going to de-emphasize the petty stuff and focus on the bigger things. So the cheaters, the rule-breakers, the folks that are trying to disrupt intercollegiate athletics in this country are going to be held more accountable than in the past."

What prompted all this?

A spate of high-profile cases involving some of college sports' heaviest hitters. The list includes:

—Southern Cal's football team, which was stripped of its 2004 national title for rules infractions that also forced Reggie Bush to give back his Heisman Trophy.

—Connecticut's men's basketball team, which was found to have committed recruiting infractions two months before winning its third national championship.

—Football teams at Auburn and Oregon, last season's two BCS finalists. The NCAA determined Cam Newton was not aware of his father's pay-for-play recruitment scheme. Newton went on to win the Heisman Trophy and led Auburn to the national title. Oregon is under NCAA investigation for allegedly paying $25,000 to a recruiting service that is accused of steering a recruit to the program.

—Tennessee, which is awaiting a ruling on alleged recruiting violations in its football and men's basketball programs.

—Ohio State, where football coach Jim Tressel resigned amid an investigation into players receiving cash and tattoos for autographs, championship rings and equipment. Tressel allegedly did not notify the school's compliance department when he was made aware of possible violations. The Buckeyes are scheduled to appear before the infractions committee Friday.

—North Carolina, where football Butch Davis was recently fired after allegations surfaced about improper benefits going to players and academic misconduct.

It has certainly gotten the attention of university leaders and prompted them to re-evaluate all of the regulations schools must comply with.

"You'd be foolish to say that nobody has been paying attention to this over the last year or two or three," said Oregon State president Ed Ray, chairman of the NCAA's executive committee. "It's not any one case in particular but the cumulative effect. I think there's a realization that the last time we went through the rules and regulations was probably 1999 or 2000 and things have changed a lot since then."

That movement is already under way.

Last week, the NCAA's leadership council said it will work on a proposal to deregulate electronic communications and allow unlimited contact between coaches and recruits after Aug. 1 of the player's junior year.

"We all decided that the rulebook needs some editing," Emmert said. "We agreed in very short order, meaning months, not years, we will bring a set of reductions in the rulebook that will look at serious threats to intercollegiate athletics and not things like whether a bagel has peanut butter on it or not."

Ray said the group also discussed policing professional agents, though the presidents intend to let Julie Roe Lach, the NCAA's vice president for enforcement, and her staff work on those issues before sending a proposal to the full membership.

On Tuesday, the presidents discussed the possibility of providing scholarships to cover the full cost of attendance at a school, instead of just room, board, tuition and fees, and multiyear scholarships instead of the one-year scholarships now used in college sports.

But one thing is clear: Emmert wants changes and he wants them now.

"The presidents have been unequivocal in trying to do this as quickly as we can," he said. "The board has full authority to take such actions. They are all issues that various commissions and committees have been working on for months and in some cases years. I wouldn't describe it as emergency legislation, but there is clearly a strong sense of urgency to get this done."

44 Comments

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  • kornfan2448 Aug 11, 8:47 p.m.

    What looks the same going in and coming out?

    Korn

    — Posted by WRALSPORTSFANSUXS

    What shows up unwanted and serves no purpose.....

    ...weed.

    There, you obviously wanted a reply....ya happy? I can tend to your mentality all day, but I really just want a civil debate.

    Weed, people like you are why there are pre-game shootings in the parking lot. One, you get get confronted for running your trap, and 2....you out and wither behind someone with a spine.

  • Cragsdale Aug 11, 4:32 p.m.

    OS, I appreciate your posts today. We have oft disagreed on various subjects, but that is as individuals will do. Today however, I applaud your words., Yours too Korn.

  • Jcwolf75 Aug 11, 4:28 p.m.

    There is no doubt that unc-ch has very successful athletic programs. It's the academic side I... View More

    — Posted by RDM

    RDM - you are EXACTLY right! With regard to the "Triangle area" with Carolina, State,... View More

    — Posted by Objective Scientist

    Good observation, I too am very proud of my degree, which happens to be a BS from UNCC, I just want to make sure that student athletes are truly deserving of their degrees. Most of which are and work their tails off to get it, but the few that take short cuts to get their degree's from any school, I have a BIG problem with, even if it is my beloved Wolfpack.

  • Objective Scientist Aug 11, 3:23 p.m.

    There is no doubt that unc-ch has very successful athletic programs. It's the academic side I... View More

    — Posted by RDM

    RDM - you are EXACTLY right! With regard to the "Triangle area" with Carolina, State, and Duke. When in school at Carolina I had friends and made friends with students at the other two schools. I spent some time on those campuses. I have friends who are faculty at all those schools. If you graduate with a degree from either of those three schools... you can "stick your chest out" with pride. Virtually no one... except perhaps some of the extremists who have posted on this topc... will every "look down upon" a degree from Carolina, Duke, or NCSU. A degree for either of those schools is indicative of "hard work" and significant academic accomplishment.

    I'm proud of my Carolina degrees and MOST people respect those degrees, but... if my life had gone in a different direction that led me to degrees from either NCSU or Duke - I would be just as proud of those degrees. I LOVE the sport rivalries we have between the three!!! Some posters cannot see past the sports rivalries and take truly extreme and irrational positions.

  • kornfan2448 Aug 11, 3:18 p.m.

    Hey, I have never been a fan of Jimmy V. This may lead to the revoking of my NCSU fan card, but... View More

    — Posted by Barely

    What's even more fun is the delusions you as a state fan and many other state fans have in... View More

    — Posted by Cragsdale

    But it's so much easier to take the opinions of a few and portray it as the overall sentiment.... View More

    — Posted by kornfan2448

    kornfan2448 - we were apparently typing our respective comments at about the same time. Your... View More

    — Posted by Objective Scientist

    I was just reading yours and thought the same thing. I'm awaiting the respective, not to be confused with respectful, retorts.

  • Objective Scientist Aug 11, 3:10 p.m.

    Wow. It's one thing for fans to talk smack, but I can't remember the last time I read such hate... View More

    — Posted by Elvisisdead

    Hey, I have never been a fan of Jimmy V. This may lead to the revoking of my NCSU fan card, but... View More

    — Posted by Barely

    What's even more fun is the delusions you as a state fan and many other state fans have in... View More

    — Posted by Cragsdale

    But it's so much easier to take the opinions of a few and portray it as the overall sentiment.... View More

    — Posted by kornfan2448

    kornfan2448 - we were apparently typing our respective comments at about the same time. Your comments/post - VERY well said!

  • RDM Aug 11, 3:09 p.m.

    There is no doubt that unc-ch has very successful athletic programs. It's the academic side I don't get. It's the academic side that concerns me. Graduation rates, grades, classes.

    Grades/Graduation This doesn't seem to be a probem at some schools. Travel down the road a few miles and it's a different story. It gives one school academic bragging rights while the school down the road hears the constant bashing...on how they're not as good.

    It doesn't add up. There's not that much different in these students.

  • Objective Scientist Aug 11, 2:59 p.m.

    Up front - I'm a UNC grad (BA, MA, Ph.D.) and I state that to leave no doubt that I AM a UNC "guy" before I make my comments. I have long and deep "connections" to Carolina having spent MANY great years on the Carolina campus. Would I like Carolina to be National Champions in every sport every year (Yea,I know that is a bit much!) - YES! But, I also want Carolina to excel as an academic institution and in other ways - in addition to excelling athletically. And when Carolina excels athletically I truly want it to have been accomplished doing it "the right way" with regard to both institutional and NCAA regulations - and with sportsmanship, "class", and "dignity". I want it done with TRUE STUDENT-athletes - NOT ATHLETE-students, definitely not with ATHLETES-period.

    Carolina's situation has brought out "extremist" groups, both Carolina fans and the ABCers or Carolina "haters". As a Carolina "guy" - I call "a spade a spade" with regard to the football "MESS". We (Carolina) had TWO "BAD" coaches. Blake - bad through commission - what he actually DID. Davis - BAD through omission - what he did NOT do (claims to have had NO knowledge of a great number of things). We had a small, yes - relative to the number on the team, cohort of players who clearly committed acts of commission in violating NCAA regulations... and who were "classless" and unsportsmanlike as well. Some players "cheated" academically. We had a "bad" employee - a tutor who appears to have been an "athlete idolater" and did considerable "bad" things.

    Fact is, there is a LOT for which Carolina folk SHOULD feel VERY bad. There is a LOT that Carolina folk should truly DETEST! My thinking is that MOST Carolina folk do indeed feel very badly and truly detest what has happened, who are not "making excuses" and who want to "fix" the problems... and who only want to "win" if it involves "winning in the "RIGHT WAY". That group is a LARGE "silent majority" who neither deny nor deflect. ABCers are simply that - ABCers!

  • kornfan2448 Aug 11, 2:45 p.m.

    What a load of garbage. 1) In anyone's job, if there is a set of rules and guidelines, it the... View More

    — Posted by Barely

    Wow. It's one thing for fans to talk smack, but I can't remember the last time I read such hate... View More

    — Posted by Elvisisdead

    Hey, I have never been a fan of Jimmy V. This may lead to the revoking of my NCSU fan card, but... View More

    — Posted by Barely

    What's even more fun is the delusions you as a state fan and many other state fans have in... View More

    — Posted by Cragsdale

    But it's so much easier to take the opinions of a few and portray it as the overall sentiment. Makes it seem as if their opinion is valid. As you mentioned, the MAJORITY of Carolina fans have accepted the wrong doing and know that punishments will be handed down and we'll move on. Yet, there are some that want to take the violations from one sport and turn it into a program wide problem and saying that if it's happening with the football program it surely must be happening throughout. While at the same time criticizing the comments of those that say these goings on happen at other institutions, it just hasn't been discovered. As for Carolina fans acting like the "be all and end all" of sports, that can be said for most passionate fans. Don't confuse confidence with arrogance. To say that Carolina sports isn't one of the top programs in the country is ignorant, and I'm not just referring to football or the last four years. I don't see Duke basketball fans as arrogant, they have one of the best programs in collegiate sports and for me to say otherwise would be cretinous. Are they a pain in the a$$? Yes, but they can back up what they say. I feel the same about Ohio State football fans, some of the most obnoxious fans I know, but they have a good program to brag about. If you take offense to the passion Carolina fans have, maybe you should take half the time you put into trying to find the miniscule weaknesses the Tar Heels have and put it into the program you support. So go ahead and take your shots and try to make it sound like the entire program is about to collapse, we'll keep enjoying our continued success and display our "arrogance" when we overcome this one obstacle.

  • WRALSPORTSFANSUXS Aug 11, 2:37 p.m.

    "What's even more fun is the delusions you as a state fan and many other state fans have in... View More

    — Posted by GC

    VERY well said!!!

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