Sunday, February 10, 2008

More on NCAA Compliance

There is a good critical article on NCAA Compliance by Brent Schrotenboer in today's San Diego Union Tribune. While many NCAA rules seem to be foolish we cannot lose sight of the fact that many of them are there because so many coaches, schools, and boosters have found creative ways to cheat.
A college soccer prospect was visiting the University of Washington in 2004 when she was offered some free candy inside a nearby hospitality tent.

She accepted and took about $2 worth of treats.

Big mistake.

It was a violation of NCAA rules, so she was busted for it. . . .

In 2007, six sports at Cal were busted for using summer camp brochures that exceeded 17 by 22 inches. They were written up for it because it violates another bylaw in the NCAA, whose initials sometimes seem to stand for “Never Condones Anything Anytime.”

The NCAA published its first rule book in 1952. It was 25 pages. Half a century later, the NCAA has three separate rule books of 440, 349 and 316 pages, mostly governing off-the-field activity for its three divisions. Besides that, the NCAA has game rule books for football (255 pages), basketball (212) and other sports. . . .

From 2001-06, the number of minor violations reported to the NCAA, like those above, have increased 65 percent to more than 3,400, including a 20 percent increase since 2005. Major rules cases have gone up, too. From 1953-85 (32 years), there were 284 major infractions cases, according to the NCAA's database. In 23 years since, there have been 312. . . .

In other words, it cannot just be about a expanding rulebook. It is also about an expansion in cheating.

The NCAA's Kevin Lennon said “changes in technology required us to go back and look to see if some of our rules make sense.” The athletes-image proposal was referred to a committee for further study. Another vote upheld a rule banning coaches from text-messaging recruits on cell phones.

Meanwhile, the old rules can't just be eliminated because they might seem trivial, NCAA experts say. A line has to be drawn somewhere. Otherwise, they say, schools seeking recruiting advantages will provide even bigger summer camp brochures and more free candy. . . .

Bingo. The big programs WILL find ways to spend every possible cent to their advantage.

Chuck Smrt, a former NCAA enforcement official, now works at a business in Kansas, The Compliance Group, which provides consulting expertise to schools and conferences on NCAA rules.

When he makes presentations, he tells clients the rule book isn't as complicated as it might seem, in principle at least. The main concepts haven't really changed: Athletes must pass a certain amount of classwork, no extra benefits for athletes, no recruiting enticements.

“When I make presentations to coaching groups, I say that if you know two basic pieces of legislation, you're never going to be on probation,” Smrt said. “If you know you can't give anything to a recruit at any time, you'll never have recruiting violations. Once an athlete enrolls, you can't do anything for him even though you can do it for the general student body.” . . .

The first comment is completely correct, and does capture the spirit of how it SHOULD be. While the second is also correct, it is also pure sophistry, consider the immense extra benefits which student-athletes received, especially at the DI level.

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