Serving on the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions and the Division I Infractions Appeals Committee can be thankless jobs, but for much of three decades, Jack Friedenthal willingly stepped up to ensure rules were enforced in college sports.
Friedenthal, 85, who recently left this important committee work, is retiring after 58 years as a law school professor. His career includes 30 years at his alma mater, Stanford University, and 28 years at George Washington University, the last two as professor emeritus.
Friedenthal began his NCAA committee work in 1992 by serving on the Committee on Infractions. Before that term ended in 2001, he also served as the committee chair.
“In 1979, I was the faculty athletics representative at Stanford, which then meant I was more like the compliance officer,” Friedenthal says. “If we had anything that looked fishy, I used to call up the NCAA often. I think they got sick of me because of the stuff I would bring to them. It was better to be on the safe side was my view.”
Through the years, Friedenthal witnessed many tweaks and modifications to the infractions process. One of the more positive changes came in August 2013, when the Committee on Infractions was expanded from 10 standing members from the membership to a pool of 22 individuals.
“It made it easier for people on the committee to sit,” Friedenthal says. “Some people complained the process was too time-consuming, when it was just one body. They had to do everything by themselves, and committee members were pressed for time. You may lose some historical perspective with people floating in and out, but you can meet with them to see how a similar case was handled. I enjoyed it and served without it interfering with my other work.”
His day job included being the dean of the George Washington Law School from 1988 to 1998 and serving through the years as a visiting professor at the Harvard Law School and the University of Michigan Law School.
In 2008, he became one of the five members on the Division I Infractions Appeals Committee. That term ended in February 2016, when he officially retired from teaching.
“Overall, you hate to see people get in trouble, but it was important work,” Friedenthal says. “It was good to work with people from other schools and get different perspectives on how to deal with violations and things of that kind.”