NCAA formally adopts new penalty structure

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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.

NCAA considering changing transfer rules

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The NCAA’s Division I Council Transfer Working Group on Wednesday unleashed a set of suggestions that could either radically change or slightly tweak the way transfers are handled in college sports’ highest level.

Let’s start with the (possible) radical changes. The working group is considering a suggestion that would make all transfers immediately eligible, provided they hit certain academic benchmarks:

Establishing uniform transfer rules — which would require everyone to follow the same rules regardless of the sport they play — was a topic that the group agrees will likely take longer to resolve. While most members agreed the concept of uniformity would be positive, what the specific rules would be is less clear.

Members discussed two models: One model would require every transfer student to sit out a year to acclimate to a new school; the other would allow all transfers to play immediately provided they present academic credentials that predict graduation at the new institution.

Walking back from that, the working group did recommend changing the transfer process to where players seeking new destinations would no longer need their former school’s approval. Considering the NCAA formally argues its athletes are merely students, and there is no limit on normal students receiving financial aid upon transferring to a new institution, this change should pass without a word to the contrary. But, you know, the NCAA is the NCAA.

Group members believe financial aid should not be tied to whether a school grants permission to contact. They want to know if others in the membership feel the same way. The group also agreed that enhancements should be made to the formal process students use to notify a school of their desire to transfer. The group will seek input from the membership on appropriate enhancements.

To curb a possible spike in transfers, the working group suggested upping penalties for coaches caught tampering with scholarship athletes at other schools.

The group expressed interest in increasing the consequences for coaches who break recruiting rules to seek out undergraduate and potential graduate students. The working group will ask the Committee on Infractions and enforcement staff to review the concept and provide feedback.

Finally, the working group suggested adding academic accountability to the graduate transfer market by either making graduate transfers count against the 85-man scholarship limit for two years or tweaking the APR formula to up the impact graduate transfers’ academic progress has in the system.

One potential approach could be to require that the financial aid provided to graduate students count against a team’s scholarship limit for two years, regardless of whether the graduate student stays for two years or leaves when their eligibility is complete.

Another concept for increasing that accountability is through the Academic Progress Rate calculation, specifically the eligibility and retention points for which a student would be held accountable as they pursue a graduate degree. The Committee on Academics discussed the calculation and the working group plans to continue conversations on the topic.

“I am thrilled with the great progress made this week, and I’m confident we can move forward with some initial concepts for consideration in this year’s legislative cycle,” South Dakota State AD and working group chair Justin Sell said in a statement. “We are working toward academics-based, data-driven decisions that benefit student-athletes, teams and schools.”

Any changes proposed by the working group are merely suggestions. The earliest any proposals could be voted on would be April 2018.

Michigan WR Grant Perry pleads guilty to felony resisting of a police officer

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Michigan wide receiver Grant Perry on Wednesday pleaded guilty to resisting of a police officer in a Lansing, Mich., court, according to the Lansing State Journal. The charge carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison.

Perry also pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of assault and battery, but did so to avoid two counts of fourth-degree sexual assault and one alcohol charge.

The case stemmed from an October incident in which Perry was accused of groping a female outside an East Lansing bar. (The Wolverines were off that weekend.) A Michigan State student said Perry “started licking his lips and smiling and pushing his chest up against her chest” before groping her.

Police were called to the scene, and Perry attempted to escape.

“When (police) arrived on scene, we tried to grab onto him, and we had to chase him,” East Lansing P.D. spokesman Lt. Scott Wriggelsworth said at the time. “In the midst of that fracas, one of our officers suffered a minor hand injury.”

Prosecutor Christina Johnson said Wednesday she has not ruled out sentencing Perry under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, which, pending Perry’s completion of certain requirements, would wipe Wednesday’s conviction from his record by his 24th birthday.

In the meantime, Perry has been suspended by Michigan but has since resumed practicing with the team. Jim Harbaugh has said Perry will not play for the Wolverines until his case is resolved, which it will be by the time Michigan opens the season against Florida on Sept. 2. Sentencing for the case is set for Aug. 2.

Eastern Michigan extends Chris Creighton through 2022

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Eastern Michigan has extended head coach Chris Creighton through 2022, the school has announced.

“I feel as though we have made progress all the way through,” Creighton said in a statement. “The vision of making the football program a real source of pride for the department, the university, the alumni, we are making progress, but that vision has not been realized yet.

“So I’m really excited about our program and the Championship Building Plan. There is a lot of momentum going on right now.”

Creighton is 10-27 in three seasons as the Eagles’ head coach, but that mark obscures the progress EMU made in his third season. After starting 3-21, Eastern Michigan rocketed to a 7-6 mark in 2016 with a Bahamas Bowl trip, the school’s first postseason appearance since 1987.

The new deal raises Creighton’s base salary by 2.5 percent, according to MLive. He made a total of $434,840 in 2016, according to the USA Today coaching salary database.

Beer sales approved for Marshall home football games

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Let the beer taps start flowing at the next home Marshall football game. The University announced today that beer sales at Joan C. Edwards Stadium have been approved by the Board of Governors starting this fall.

This is the latest decision in an evolving stance on alcohol sales at Marshall. Last year, the school began expanding the sale of alcoholic beverages such as beer and wine from the Big Green Room to chairback seating. Now, the majority of fans attending a football game in Huntington will be able to purchase alcohol. The expanded alcohol sales plan will help to build the infrastructure of Marshall’s facilities moving forward.

“This is a continuation of our goal to provide more amenities for our fan base that makes attending Marshall Football games a more enjoyable experience,” Director of Athletics Mike Hamrick said in a released statement. “We have played a lot of winning football in our stadium over the past five years and we have great opponents such as Pittsburgh, Boise State, North Carolina State, and Navy just to name a few over the next five years, and it is imperative that the investment in our fan experience matches our football brand.”

Marshall will keep some sections of the football stadium free of alcohol for those fans who wish not to be near the booze-loaded fans.

The announcement was coupled with some other stadium news regarding the future renovation plans for the football stadium. Construction on the west side of the stadium should be completed by August, in time for the start of the 2017 college football season. The southwest side of the stadium will have a new retail location for fans.