NCAA membership’s efforts to improve college sports and better foster student-athlete success reached another important milestone today as the new Division I infractions model takes effect. NCAA membership direction, ideas and feedback shaped the sweeping changes to the enforcement process in order to hold schools and administrators accountable for issues that directly affect fairness and integrity in college sports.
“We heard members across Division I declare that we need clear, consistent and credible accountability,” said Lou Anna K. Simon, Michigan State president and Executive Committee chair. “These membership-driven changes are a great first step in our ongoing effort to improve enforcement. The changes provide tough, fair consequences that communicate to universities, coaches, student-athletes and others that rule-breaking will not be tolerated.”
The changes to the Division I infractions process were adopted in October 2012 with an August 1 effective date, and include the following:
- A four-level violation structure to focus on the conduct breaches that seriously undermine or threaten the integrity of the NCAA constitution. This will replace the previous two-tier approach with major and secondary violations, allowing for more flexibility of defining the severity of the cases.
- A new penalty structure where the severity of the consequences consistently align more predictably with the significance of the wrongdoing, while also addressing any advantage gained as a result of the wrongdoing.
- Enhanced head coach accountability to foster a culture of responsibility for those who fail to direct their staff and student-athletes to follow NCAA rules. Potential consequences for head coaches include suspensions that can range from 10 percent of games to an entire season.
- An emphasis on a culture among head coaches, athletic administrators and leadership and conferences to assume the shared responsibility for upholding the values of college athletics.
Following the Division I presidential retreat in August 2011, a 13-member group of presidents, athletics directors and commissioners defined the new process to hold those who step outside the accepted code of conduct more accountable for their actions. The group collaborated and gathered feedback from their peers in the NCAA membership throughout the process.
“The working group developed these recommendations only after comprehensive and ongoing membership discussion and input,” said Ed Ray, Oregon State president and chair of the Enforcement Working Group. “I’m pleased not only with the magnitude of the changes but also the representativeness with which they were achieved.”
The Committee on Infractions, an independent group of members and the public who determines the facts and consequences of cases, will expand to as many as 24 members and include the additional perspectives of university presidents, coaches and others.
“Increasing the Division I Committee on Infractions allows us greater diversity in backgrounds and experiences while increasing the flexibility of the committee,” said Britton Banowsky, Division I Committee on Infractions chair and Conference USA commissioner. “These changes will allow cases to be heard more quickly and efficiently with fewer burdens on the individual committee members.”
The entire Committee on Infractions will meet at least twice annually to review cases across panels and check for consistency in how the guidelines are applied.
“The widespread changes to the enforcement program are an important step towards changing the dialogue and conduct of college sports so that actions align with values,” said NCAA president Mark Emmert. “As our reform efforts continue, we are making important strides towards smarter rules and tougher enforcement.”