Secondary Enforcement

By Johnny Ginter on February 25, 2014 at 11:15a

The NCAA wishes...


Twenty-four violations of NCAA bylaws seems like a pretty bad thing to do. I mean, I'm generally a fairly law-abiding citizen, but I figure that if I do something illegal dozens of times and then tell the police that I did what I did, chances are that I will get in some measure of trouble.

So when Ohio State self-reported themselves to the NCAA, I can forgive you for thinking that this is a somewhat bigger deal than it actually is. I can also forgive you for thinking that it's even a deal at all, even though it actually isn't. I can even forgive you for thinking that the NCAA's enforcement powers mean anything at all right now, even though they actually don't.

Plus, according to The Lantern, it all sounds pretty dramatic:

The Ohio State athletic department self-reported 24 minor violations in the second half of 2013, including nine for “impermissible” phone calls, text messages and emails to prospective student-athletes, as well as three violations for various involvement in conditioning and summer camp activities.

Oh no! An "impermissible" phone call sounds like something you can get arrested for, and "violations" in over the summer? It's like Porky's gone horribly wrong, what in the hell is going on at Ohio State? What are our children being subjected to? I demand answers, Doctor Michael Drake! I WANT THE TRUTH!

The truth is that these are twenty-four of the most boring, benign violations of NCAA rules that anyone could possibly think of. They include an assistant women's volleyball coach replying to an e-mail from a high school student, a women's soccer assistant coach giving kids postcards at a soccer camp, the women's golf coach accepting a friend request on Facebook, and Mike Vrabel or Tom Herman or somebody using dip during a football game.

The first thing that comes to mind when reading these violations are that man, Ohio State coaches are sad, lonely people just trying to for once make a human connection in this crazy world of ours, but the NCAA is a heartless unfeeling monster of an organization that seeks only to keep them cloistered away like some kind of robot monks who love sports.

The second thing that comes to mind is that holy crap, women's sports at Ohio State are complete dens of iniquities, replete with volunteerism, social media encouragement, and mislabeled postal mail.

Oh! But what merriment!

But in our gut, NCAA violations, small or large, still give us cause for concern. Not just because of the spotlight that's always on Ohio State for having one of the largest athletic departments in the country, but also because of the university's recent high profile history with the NCAA and the possible repercussions that a second visit from the piper might bring.

Not so, says John Infante of the Bylaw Blog:

If the number of violations for a given time period deviates from long-term trends, that deserves a closer look. If violations are down, monitoring systems should be checked to ensure they are working properly and that best practices are being observed. If violations are up significantly, perhaps the educational plan for coaches needs to be revised.

If things seem a little too quiet on the violation front, everything should be double-checked to ensure it is because things are actually quiet. The worst case scenario for an athletic department is to find out it seemed everything was OK because little things were falling through the cracks before they grew into something major.

Infante also quotes Gene Smith, who made a statement to the effect that Ohio State expects this number of violations in a given period of time due to the sheer size of the athletic department.

All of this means that NCAA violations aren't just expected at Ohio State and other large programs, it'd be even more suspicious if they somehow weren't happening.

Or at least being reported and then summarily dismissed by college sport's governing body with a handwave and a shake of their finger. Look, I think the NCAA can serve a legitimate purpose in the college sports world. Significant cheaters, especially where bribery or intimidation is involved, deserve to face punishment, and there has to be some apparatus to support that. We can have an ongoing debate as to what really constitutes a violation/the payment of players/etc., but I understand the need for a regulatory group to manage all of that.

But even if the NCAA acknowledges that some of their rules are so petty that their violation is to be expected and their acknowledgement is a sign of a healthy athletic department, then maybe said rules have little value in the first place. Maybe it's not even really worth it to self-report in the first place.

Maybe they're only really in place to justify the NCAA existing at all.

And right now, the NCAA really needs to justify their existence. After royally borking the Miami investigation (when Yahoo! Sports had done 90% of the work for them), misjudging their role in the Penn State scandal, and completely whiffing on Auburn, the NCAA has a horrible batting record in violations of NCAA rules that actually matter.

Still, the way to make up for those high profile screw ups isn't to continue to insist on the petty enforcement of stupid rules that change nothing about the culture of college sports; the way to make up for past mistakes is to evolve into an organization that supports open dialog on ideas and topics such as athlete pay, health insurance in scholarships, and a relaxation of some of the more draconian rules that schools like Ohio State violate constantly with essentially no real incentive to stop.

But that requires change, which is difficult. Until the NCAA stops worrying about whether a field hockey coach bought candy bars for her team on a long bus ride, they'll remain the butt of jokes and not the prestigious governing body they think they are.


Comments Show All Comments

BUCKSOMIES's picture

Move along nothing to see here.

flying-banana's picture

We're sending emails and using dip on the sidelines!?!? Think of the children!!

+11 HS
FitzBuck's picture

I just watched a commercial for an e - cigarette commercial and now have a desire to smoke them.  If the actor was wearing an OSU shirt I would have.  (Sarcasm)

Fitzbuck | Toledo - Ohio's right armpit | "A troll by any other name is still a troll".

acBuckeye's picture

They whiffed on North Carolina too. If the NCAA is so gung ho about academic integrity amongst it's member institutions, then how do you botch a case that was laid out for you on a silver platter? Academic scandal should be dealt with the harshest penalties, in my eyes.

+1 HS
BierStube's picture


"No matter where you go, there you are." B. Banzai

+3 HS
spqr2008's picture

Monkeys and Pigs are flying, cats and dogs living together!  The NCAA is trying to justify its relevance to those who completely despise it, including me.  I don't trust what they found out about any case anymore, since they couldn't find any cause to punish far more egregious flaunting of rules than discounted tattoos and over-payment for work.  These secondary violations exist so that the mighty NCAA can come down on anyone they want to at any time for them, to bring them back in line with exactly what the NCAA's brass want.  There's a really good quote I won't use on here because it's sort of politically charged, but the gist of it is that it is much easier to rule when all people are criminals, because then all you have to do is chose who to punish, and when.  That is the NCAA's entire governing philosophy.

spqr2008's picture

I know this is incredibly off topic, but can anyone read my comment?  Because I can't.

MattyBeingMatty's picture


“Not everybody’s the perfect person in the world, I mean everyone kills people, murders people, steals from you, steals from me, whatever. I think that people need a second chance, and I’ve always looked up to Mike Vick." -TP

+3 HS
RedQueenRace's picture

Which one?  The one that exists or the one that doesn't?

+6 HS
spqr2008's picture

Apparently the one that doesn't exist.  I must be having an odd computer day.  Because it says my username, then no comment displayed, then the comment asking about the comment.

Oyster's picture

Well I cetainly hope you didn't break the forum because they threw the old one away last week once they were sure this one was 'working properly'.

"Scrolling hurts my finger"

(and FitzBuck was clearly the winner)

+1 HS
MN Buckeye's picture

Great, now someone messed up the whole web site!

+2 HS
Alpo's picture

Some of the "violations" are completely ridiculous. The NCAA as a whole is such a joke.

JYBUCKEYE's picture

I'm not sure why chewing tobacco is a violation.  It certainly doesn't help with recruiting.


+6 HS
OSUpawn's picture

I'm sure he was reported......

I believe the SEC players put their pants on one leg at a time like we do.

FitzBuck's picture

Beckmann has enough problems

Fitzbuck | Toledo - Ohio's right armpit | "A troll by any other name is still a troll".

BoFuquel's picture

SPQR2008 yes. GO BUCKS!

I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.

Wilkins78's picture

The NCAA, like many other regulatory bodies, relies on a ton of self-governance from the institutions it oversees.  Often, having compliant procedures and evidence that those procedures are being followed and are effective can be more important than the actual severity of a violation.  This self-reporting is an example of that evidence.  That this kind of thing is published is all political FOI BS so that the media can get a bunch of page clicks twice a year, when in truth it is actually detrimental to the process and public perception.  The NCAA has a lot of visible flaws, but there is also a reason for a lot of what they do that people don't seem to grasp or just take for granted.  They have a very complex job.  Because the world don't move to the beat of just one drum.  What might be right for you, may not be right for some... They'll have theirs, and you'll have yours, and I'll have mine, and together we'll be fine.  Cause it takes, Diff'rent Strokes to move the world.  Yes it does.  


+1 HS
elffir's picture

Personally, I don't get the hating on the NCAA for expecting schools to self-report (trivial) violations.  They don't want it left up to the institution to decide what is trivial.  Sure, nobody cares if you butt-dial some prospect, but if you didn't have to report these, pretty soon the SEC schools would be "accidently" calling dozens of prospects a day.  They'd be accidently handing out "trivial" gifts, and pretty soon "trivial" amounts of Benjamins....

+3 HS
hit_the_couch's picture

Why is this even a story? Every major program self reports secondary violations.

And then I told her...i'm no weatherman, but tonight's forecast is calling for several inches!

toledobuckeyefanjim's picture

If Michigan is found in violation of US Civil Rights laws, will the NCAA throw some penalties at them?


KBonay's picture

Careful....if M Man finds this, this thread will blow up.....

Meaty19's picture

Send in the haters! Here's to hoping those Northwestern boys and their union breaks the NCAA

-2 HS
craigfling's picture

Maybe I'm ignorant but isn't the NCAA just a membership organization of universities, and doesn't it then reflect the demands and principles of the universities themselves? It seems much of the the mandate of the NCAA is concerned with ensuring that the university sports programs retain their amateur status so they can remain tax-free, which I guess is what the universities demand of it. If the member universities really wanted to change the way the NCAA operates couldn't they just change things any time they really want to? Everyone bashes the NCAA but if it's just representing the universities, shouldn't the universities and their leadership be the ones who are scrutinized?

+3 HS
TMac's picture

At least we didn't take/give any extra pasta!

ONE Not Done!

+1 HS
TUNBUCK89's picture make the rules a little more fair, they should customize the amount each recruit could eat dependind on the position they play !

For example: Double meal & giant drinks for OL/DL

Regular meal & drinks for RB/LB

Medium meal & drinks for WR/DB

small meal for kicker/punter. Of course with NO DRINKS !!!


+1 HS
gutterwaste's picture

Except when in NYC, cause giant drinks are illegal there.  

+1 HS
Seattle Linga's picture

I guess my Jay-walking fine last week makes me look like a Jack-Wagon

ScarletGray43157's picture

The NCAA is a Control Freak.  On steroids.

In old Ohio there's a team that's known throughout the land...