Results from almost all precincts are in, and it looks like there’s a strong consensus that Tuesday’s NCAA Enforcement Experience succeeded in creating a greater understanding of the issues surrounding a typical Division I infractions case.
The purpose never was to “convert” media members into somehow advocating for the NCAA system. Rather, it was to provide a look behind the curtain so they could better understand how a serious case might play out from beginning to end. Along the way, the media members on hand were given unprecedented access to enforcement staff and Committee on Infractions staff members.
Not surprisingly, this resulted in a lot of commentary. It’s probably dangerous to compress thoughts from 24 different writers into one distillation, but what the heck: The overall takeaway was that the enforcement process is generally well-executed by capable, properly motivated people; the concern is with the overall structure and process. Writers also voiced a plea for more consistency with penalties.
“Understanding something and agreeing with it are two different things,” wrote Stewart Mandell of Sports Illustrated. “Nothing I saw Tuesday changed my opinion that the entire enforcement process could use a drastic overhaul; that it’s saddled by inconsistencies and inefficiency; and that it’s too unnecessarily complicated for fans to ever truly understand.”
Fair enough. I’ll go a step further and say Mandell shouldn’t limit the criticism to enforcement. Usually the complexities come from efforts to ensure fairness. Sometimes they come from necessary political compromises. Once in a while, a bad idea simply gets on the books and stays there. But there’s not much point in fretting about whether excessive complexity exists. The important question is how change can occur.
Rules enforcement is something that the NCAA must get right. The challenge has always been big, but modern times have made it harder than ever. Technology has changed the landscape, and so has all the money surrounding sports of all kinds. At its core, however, the purpose of the enforcement program has never changed: It’s all about fairness. If the rules are not equitably enforced, the competition is not fair.
Anyway, kudos to the NCAA enforcement staff and to the Division I Committee on Infractions for their excellent effort – and for providing a forum about how rules enforcement can be improved.
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Here’s an overview of what several writers put together from Tuesday’s Enforcement Experience:
Enforcement Experience offers rare inside look at NCAA infractions (Stewart Mandell, Sports Illustrated)
Biggest lessons learned at NCAA’s Enforcement Experience (Seth Davis, Sports Illustrated)
‘Enforcement Experience’ a revealing peek at NCAA’s heavy burden (George Schroeder, Eugene Register-Guard)
Heat on new NCAA president Emmert to get tough (Dan Wetzel, Yahoo Sports)
NCAA offers inside look at enforcement, investigation process (Steve Yanda, Washington Post)
Mark Emmert isn’t backing down (Eamonn Brennan, ESPN)
Nothing simple about catching cheaters (Pat Forde, ESPN)
Taking a peek behind the rules curtain (Kyle Veazey, Jackson Clarion Ledger)
NCAA attempts to properly handle third-party recruitment (Jon Solomon, Birmingham News)
NCAA opens up on enforcement (David Moltz, Inside Higher Ed)
NCAA looks to debunk myths about enforcement investigations (Libby Sander, Chronicle of Higher Education)
NCAA needs more schooling on sports, not media (Mike DeCourcy, Sporting News)