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.