The NCAA (Probably) Brings the Hammer

By Jake on May 11, 2011 at 1:00p
NCAA President Mark Emmert in his work clothes.

In any story in literature, there is a building of momentum as the author slowly adds conflict and tension. The protagonist faces obstacle after obstacle until, finally, near the end, climactically reaching cathartic release. If Ohio State is our protagonist, the author is ramping up the tension to 11 right now. With the slow drip of scandal leaking out of Columbus, the media is milking the clock while the offseason chugs along. However, the media isn’t the one in control of the narrative. Mike Emmert, NCAA President, issued what amounts to a shot across the bow of the Ohio State Athletic Department yesterday, and as they say, the consequences will never be the same.

Mr. Emmert, in a small press conference, offered three big things he’s looking to change with regards to NCAA enforcement. None of them bode well for the Buckeyes.

"We need to make sure our penalty structure and enforcement process imposes a thoughtful level of concern, and that the cost of violating the rules costs more than not violating them."

If you need some evidence he's not just spitting game here, think of USC. If there's been one clear trend over the past couple of years, it's been the steady tightening of NCAA enforcement. For Ohio State, this could mean that an "example" will be made. 

"We've made the commitment to provide enforcement with more staff, some staff has been added. It isn't really more investigators in the field, but it's freeing up more people to get them out in the field."

It's likely no coincidence that 2010 and, so far, 2011 have had so many heavily publicized scandals. There's no substitute for someone doing the legwork, and if the NCAA has hired more staff, they're going to be finding more dirt. More boots equals more rocks kicked over, as it were.

"This is my own opinion, but I do worry we have too much of a bivariate model. I personally would like to see whether we can have two, three or five different sort of categories and maybe that would make the cases go a little more expeditiously."

Here is probably the most interesting of the quotes. In a way, having two categories leads to situations where an infraction can get shoehorned into either a "major" or "minor" category, often leading to too many or not enough penalties depending on where it gets shoved. This could be either good or bad for Ohio State, assuming the NCAA institute such a reform, depending on whether Cargate would ultimately end up in the "major" or "minor" category. My instinct is to think it's the former, and if nothing else, this gives me some measure of optimism. 

"What are you going to pay them? Are you going to pay the quarterback the same as the guy who sits on the bench? Are you going to pay a gymnast the same as a men's basketball player? There is a model for that, it's called professional sports, and I love them. But that's not what college sports is about."

This is a subject covered earlier this year, and a constant issue in amateur sports. As much as Mark Emmert could be considered by some the "bad guy" here, it's also nice to see an NCAA president with some cojones. The worst situation for College Football to be in is one where it's an amateur sport in scare quotes. Even though Tressel, and possibly Ohio State, may end up a martyr to the cause, the legitimacy of amateur sports is important. At the end of the day, as Spielman said in Chris' Skull Session earlier today, Ohio State is bigger than any one person. So long as the president is Stern but Fair, all of College Football, including Ohio State, will be better off in the long run. If, on the other hand, Ohio State is merely an example to be made, and other schools (*cough* SEC *cough*) are allowed to continue on their merry way, then bring on the pitchforks.

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