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NCAA formally adopts new penalty structure


It’s been a long time in the making, but the NCAA has finally adopted the new penalty structure it’s been promising for the past year. Gone is the two-tier structure (major and secondary infractions) and in is a four-tier approach designed, according to the NCAA, to better categorize the nature of a violation with extra special focus on breaches “that seriously undermine or threaten the integrity of the NCAA Constitution.”

“We have sought all along to remove the ‘risk-reward’ analysis that has tempted people – often because of the financial pressures to win at all costs – to break the rules in the hopes that either they won’t be caught or that the consequences won’t be very harsh if they do get caught,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement. “The new system the Board adopted today is the result of a lot of hard work and membership input devoted to protecting the collegiate model.”

You can check out the entire release HERE, but here are some of the highlights:

  • The new structure, which you can see below, won’t take effect until Aug. 1, 2013. So as far as current cases are concerned (i.e. Miami, Oregon), those would likely be subject to current processes and potential penalties. After today (Oct. 30), penalties levied will depend on when the violations occurred and when the case was processed. However, if violations occur after Oct. 30, 2012 and are processed after Aug. 1, 2013, they will be subject to the new process and penalty structure.
  • Expect to see more accountability for head coaches since “presumption of knowledge” will be a dead term. Under the new structure, the head coach is presumed responsible, and depending on the violations, could see suspensions ranging from 10 percent of the season to the entire season.
  • The Committee on Infractions will more than double from 10 voting members to 24 voting members, and will split into smaller panels to review individual cases.
  • Hearings for cases will be scheduled more frequently. For example, Level 1 cases will be heard about 10 times per year, doubling the five annual meetings the Committee on Infractions schedules. Consistency among rulings is also supposed to be an adjustment given primary consideration.

The new enforcement hierarchy is as follows:

Level I: Severe breach of conduct
Violations that seriously undermine or threaten the integrity of the NCAA collegiate model as set forth in the Constitution and bylaws, including any violation that provides or is intended to provide a substantial or extensive recruiting, competitive or other advantage, or a substantial or extensive impermissible benefit.

Level II: Significant breach of conduct
Violations that provide or are intended to provide more than a minimal but less than a substantial or extensive recruiting, competitive or other advantage; includes more than a minimal but less than a substantial or extensive impermissible benefit; or involves conduct that may compromise the integrity of the NCAA collegiate model as set forth in the Constitution and bylaws.

Level III: Breach of conduct
Violations that are isolated or limited in nature; provide no more than a minimal recruiting, competitive or other advantage; and do not include more than a minimal impermissible benefit. Multiple Level IV violations may collectively be considered a breach of conduct.

Level IV: Incidental issues
Minor infractions that are inadvertent and isolated, technical in nature and result in a negligible, if any, competitive advantage. Level IV infractions generally will not affect eligibility for intercollegiate athletics. (This level may be revised or even eliminated pending outcomes from the Rules Working Group’s efforts to streamline the Division I Manual.)

Let’s go back to Emmert’s statement and the “risk-reward” term he addresses. One of the major complaints of the NCAA’s process — not just the two-tier structure that lumped things, often inappropriately, into one of two categories — was that as long as a program admitted it made a mistake, no matter how egregious, and cooperated in the NCAA’s investigative efforts, it could often get off lighter than it really deserved.

The release itself even states the NCAA’s working group “felt that the current structure didn’t offer enough of a deterrent for individuals who believe the anticipated benefits and advantages resulting from premeditated rules violations outweigh the severity of punishment.”

Supposedly, the whole pushing a glass of milk to the edge of the table is a thing of the past. Supposedly. It appears violators still have the opportunity to mitigate any punishment they receive. The question becomes will the risk outweigh the “anticipated benefits and advantages”? The NCAA says yes, but we’ll know for sure in a year or so.

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14 Responses to “NCAA formally adopts new penalty structure”
  1. gripless says: Oct 30, 2012 12:44 PM

    This is just some soft “cover your ass” strategy to make the NCAA look better than it is.

    These guys don’t care about anything behond them and the money they can make.

    Similar to the Penn State deal, it is easier to issue fines and penalties rather than step up enforecement. Why doesn’t the NCAA put together a team to seek compliance and enforcement rather than dealing blows to the programs after the fact.

    And, this will change nothing, other than, cover your ass MORE!

  2. thraiderskin says: Oct 30, 2012 12:50 PM

    After reading it, I can’t quite put my finger on it, but something doesn’t seem right about what the NCAA is claiming to accomplish. I have no way to define the issue, but something doesn’t sit right. Perhaps it is a lack of confidence in the NCAA, mostly in how it makes determinations, in the past.

  3. dcroz says: Oct 30, 2012 1:06 PM

    Like any government regulation that is supposed to fix a problem but often makes matters worse, I’m highly suspicious of this new tier system. It sounds good in principle, but I’m concerned that these tiers are sufficiently vague as to create great confusion as to exactly where certain infractions fall, which in turn brings up questions of consistency and fairness. Perhaps my fears are unfounded, but we will just have to wait and see how it works before we hail it a success.

  4. sparky151 says: Oct 30, 2012 1:17 PM

    The NCAA is really going to regret this. They are openly admitting that one of their objectives is to prevent colleges from competing for student-athletes. That’s always been the case but they used to be more discreet about it. This is obvious cartel behavior with anti-trust consequences. Colleges aren’t allowed to avoid competing for students as MIT found out courtesy of the US dept of Justice.

  5. rcali says: Oct 30, 2012 4:04 PM

    So I guess a coach can no longer ignore a top freshman recruit showing up to practice in a brand new Escalade?

  6. spudvol says: Oct 30, 2012 4:13 PM

    Does this mean Boise State recruits can sleep on couches again?

  7. stairwayto7 says: Oct 30, 2012 4:39 PM

    The troll Emmert will have someone outside organization do a half ass job, give their opinion and take it with out doing HIS JOB! FIRE EMMERT NOW!

  8. jonkybon says: Oct 30, 2012 5:22 PM

    They’re calling these the Spurrier rules, since The Ole Ball Sack is the biggest violator!!!

  9. charger383 says: Oct 30, 2012 10:26 PM

    I have even less respect fot NCAA now

  10. MasMacho says: Oct 31, 2012 11:25 AM

    This is only scaffolding around a corrupt institution of exploitation and greed. Pay them already. End this foolishness.

  11. manchestermiracle says: Oct 31, 2012 12:09 PM

    Went from two vague categories to four. That’s an improvement? It’s all in the definitions the committees will be deciding. Who is defining the terms “minimal, substantial, and extensive?”

    Is Cam Newton’s dad’s attempt to sell his son’s services to the highest bidder minimal, substantial, or extensive? Is Reggie Bush’s folks’ use of a house 150 miles away minimal, substantial, or extensive? We know the answers to these questions under the current bylaws, but what might have changed if these issues came up a year from now?

    I still see an organization that has way too much latitude in deciding where a particular “violation” falls on the outrage meter. I still see an organization with very little consistency in its attempts to maintain an air of amateurism.

    There’s a reason the NCAA rule book resembles the U.S. tax code: Both are pyramids sitting on their points rather than their bases and both require an enormous network of support in order to keep from toppling over.

  12. olskool711 says: Oct 31, 2012 12:16 PM

    A couple weeks ago the NCAA appeals committee ruled that the NCAA went overboard in convicting Boise for their crimes of sleeping on couches.

    The NCAA decided they didn’t care how their own NCAA appeals committee ruled.

    Does anyone understand what is going on?

    Please explain.

  13. tommy57 says: Oct 31, 2012 2:47 PM

    Do multi-billion dollar media deals undermine or threaten the integrity of the NCAA collegiate model?

  14. calmdownandthink says: Oct 31, 2012 6:43 PM

    Hey, tommy, that’s one of them there rhetorical questions, amiright?

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