Sunday, November 2, 2008

NCAA Watch #2: Tougher Infractions Penalties?

The DI Committee on Infractions has suggested a move towards tougher and more extensive penalties for rule-breaking. Lets examine the proposals and consider their impact and potential deterrent effect:
• Employing a broader base of penalties, including fines, postseason bans and other punishments that have not been used in the recent past, such as the television ban.
Fines: Why revive a penalty which did not work in the past, especially for the big-money programs which do not find them burdensome? If fines were revived, then they would merely become a 'cost of doing business'. Bad idea.

Postseason bans: Postseason bans are already utilized, but not enough, and the Infractions Committee needs more latitude to impose them. Excellent idea.

Television Bans: This would hit rule-breakers where it hurt, not only in terms of money, but publicity as well. It is also why, although it is a fabulous idea, one should not expect it to be adopted any time soon.
• Eliminating cooperation with the investigation as a mitigating factor in assessing penalties. . . .The Committee on Infractions believes that the more appropriate way to handle cooperation is to charge refusal to cooperate as an independent violation.
Since the NCAA relies on institutions to self-report rule-breaking, this is a proposal which might hurt more than help. That said, any mitigation should still result in a proportional penalty, which has not always been the case in the past, hence the following:
• Assessing penalties that convey the magnitude of the violation, no matter the type of violation (for example, imposing a scholarship penalty even if the violation does not relate to financial aid).
That is good common sense, but there is one for the lawyers:
• Making public the names of staff members involved in infractions cases.
On the one hand, this is information which, as recent cases show, almost always hits the press. Given that the NCAA has been sued successfully even where names of boosters have been redacted from its reports, this is something that they may wish to remain careful about. Although there is this point:
[Jo] Potuto said cleansing the names from infractions reports is a practice that began before staff members accused of violations had the opportunity to respond to allegations of violations, appear before the Committee on Infractions and appeal any finding to the Infractions Appeals Committee.
On the whole, there is nothing here to hold your breath about.

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