As if to put an exclamation point on the seriousness of the reports coming out of Miami, the president of the NCAA has taken the unusual and almost unprecedented step of commenting publicly on an ongoing investigation.
In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, Emmert acknowledged the issues that could be facing the Hurricanes football program while at the same time reiterating his call for “substantive changes to Division I intercollegiate athletics.”
If the assertions are true, the alleged conduct at the University of Miami is an illustration of the need for serious and fundamental change in many critical aspects of college sports. This pertains especially to the involvement of boosters and agents with student-athletes. While many are hearing about this case for the first time, the NCAA has been investigating the matter for five months. The serious threats to the integrity of college sports are one of the key reasons why I called together more than 50 presidents and chancellors last week to drive substantive changes to Division I intercollegiate athletics.
The two-day retreat Emmert alludes to in his statement took place a week ago in Indianapolis and included the exchanging of ideas involving, among others, raising the minimum APR scores; more rigorous academic standards for incoming recruits and JUCO transfers; and moving from one-year renewable athletic scholarships to multi-year scholarships that would roll over annually.
Additionally, there were two items up for discussion that either directly relates or has a connection to the scandal that’s threatening to level the Miami football program for the foreseeable future:
- Create stiffer sanctions for major violations while shifting focus away from secondary ones
Obviously, given the egregious nature of the allegations made against The U, this proposal, if it were to be adopted, would be the first and most significant test of what would be a far-reaching, get-tough policy on the part of the NCAA. The fact that, as Emmert says in his statement, the NCAA has been investigating the claims against Miami for five months is perhaps a sign that what was discussed in Indy was done so with an eye cast straight toward Coral Gables.
- No outright paying of student-athletes, but move to a “full cost of attendance” model
Some people have used this UM situation as a reason to push for the paying of players. Yeah, um, no it’s not. Some additional and much-needed money for the basic living essentials? That’s a solid, common-sense reason for the NCAA to do the right thing by pulling the trigger on bridging the $3000-$5,000 gap between what a scholarship pays for and the actual cost of attending school. Strippers, hookers, bling and fishing junkets on a yacht? Sorry, that’s not the NCAA’s responsibility.
Of course, these were merely ideas tossed around by those charged with shaping and changing the landscape of collegiate athletics. The real litmus test will be whether those words offered up behind closed doors will have deeds and actions backing them up. Or, if they’ll merely ring as hollow as nearly everything else coming out of The Association in general and the presidents of its member institutions in particular for the past decade.