It's Aug. 1, which means the NCAA's new enforcement program officially takes effect.
The NCAA on Thursday released a reminder that new order is in order.
"The new enforcement structure creates additional levels of infractions, hastens the investigation process and offers stauncher penalties for the most egregious violations," the NCAA said in a statement. It also adds this effort will continue "to offer harsh consequences (postseason bans, scholarship reductions, recruiting limits, head coach suspensions, show-cause orders and financial penalties) that align more predictably with the severity of the violations. The new penalty structure also places a premium on aggravating and mitigating circumstances in each case."
A lot of this action comes in the midst/quasi-aftermath of the Miami investigation, which is still not complete, and has drawn plenty of criticism, much of it (for legitimate reasons) in the past year. It should be noted the NCAA in 2011 put in plans to redefine its enforcement structure before the Miami case became a debacle; it just so happens that mishandling of said case ran parallel to the NCAA's reset on this. Talk about appropriate-yet-terrible timing on that one.
All in all, it's a big day for college hoops coaches and NCAA programs in general. These changes could one day very well affect the program you love. So, here are the elements to this you should know. The first, as we passed along last October, is that college coaches will be held more accountable for every transgression that takes place under their watch. The NCAA put many months into studying and restructuring the way it governs itself, watches for cheaters and then hands out punishments to the violators. Feedback deemed the NCAA was too soft or too loophole-riddled when it came to letting coaches off the hook. No more. Coaches can no longer put their head in the sand on any cheating in the program whether they legitimately knew about it or not.
There are now four levels of cheating a coach can commit with suspension penalties that range from 10 percent of a season to an entire year's worth. Read about the tiers here.
In terms of expedience in hashing out cases and coming to conclusions, that's clearly a big point of emphasis. The NCAA in general is pledging that cases of all shapes and sizes simply will not take the time (read: multiple years) to complete. Uncertain timelines on the lifespans of infractions cases has been a consistent criticism of the NCAA for a very long time.
(Recently, Miami football coach Al Golden acquiesced to the fact his team will have to play under a dark cloud for the third straight season, awaiting a verdict from Indianapolis.)
Finally, the Committee on Infractions -- once a 10-person board -- is expanding with the option of as many as 24 people on the jury, so to speak. The NCAA is actively bringing in more voices from different background including, for the first time, recruiting former college coaches. Notable names on the new COI are former Michigan football coach Lloyd Carr and former Georgia Tech hoops coach Bobby Cremins. The entire roster is here.
It of course remains to be seen what will come of this. For as long as it exists, the NCAA will have cynics, doubters and maligners. Still, it's never been more active and publicly aware of its standing. This is as transparency as we've never seen it before with the NCAA. Now we'll have to wait for a few rule-breakers to get caught before seeing how the new system works -- and the inevitable reaction to the action.