Blog Entry

What to expect from this week's NCAA retreat

Posted on: August 8, 2011 6:45 pm
Edited on: August 9, 2011 10:17 am
Let's calculate the odds of any real change coming out of this week's NCAA presidential retreat.

All we have is history which has not been kind. In the late 1980s, the nation's college presidents were charged with taking control of athletic landscape amid a time of scandal. In other words, live up to their job description.

So much for that. In the quarter century since 1987 (SMU death penalty) college football has averaged three football major violation cases per year. In one 13-day period in July (during our reform series, consequently), three schools went on probation in football in less than two weeks.

The presidential initiative hasn't failed -- the venerable Myles Brand was the first NCAA CEO to come from the academic side. It has been more uneven. For good reason.

Athletics aren't a front burner item to most college CEOs. They are in charge of what are frequently billion-dollar budgets. Athletics is a small part of that budget. They would be no big deal if the embarrassment factor weren't plugged in.

"Athletics is about two percent of my budget," Penn State president Graham Spanier said, "but probably 10 percent of my time. Clearly, I spend a disproportionate time on athletics. It's the one area that brings credit to you if you do it right. At the same time it's the area of the university that has the chance to bring discredit to the university."

Remember, this is from the CEO of one of two schools with football national championships that have never had a major violation in football. (BYU is the other.)

Look at what has happened recently at Ohio State and North Carolina. The presidents, in a way, have ignored the importance of athletics as their school's reputation took a hit. Ohio State's outgoing Gordon Gee is still being ripped for his March 8 comment about Jim Tressel.

"I'm just hoping the coach doesn't dismiss me."

While watching his football program slowly disintegrate from within, North Carolina chancellor Holden Thorp inadvertently committed an NCAA secondary violation.

These are the leaders of the NCAA. And their time is running out.

"I'm deeply worried about football," Spanier told me this summer. "I believe if we don't fix some of the problems in football, [that] in five years it will be as bad as basketball."

That's as damning as it gets. There are a lot of folks in college athletics who believe basketball is so far gone that it is irretrievable. Football still has a chance. That's why this retreat was called, to discuss the big picture but to concentrate on football.

A collection of presidents (Spanier is among them), ADs and commissioners will gather in Indy to discuss academic success, fiscal sustainability and integrity. Those are NCAA president Mark Emmert's words. We'll see if anything comes of them.

The difference this time is we have talking points. Most notably, SEC commissioner Mike Slive proposed a new model at the conference media days. The BCS commissioners basically agree with him.

If the NCAA (read: presidents) don't take significant action on those proposals, the commissioners can throw up their hands and say, "Hey, we tried our best." In a small way, Slive's words publicized the leverage those commissioners hold. Do nothing, and the minutia of the NCAA Manual could drive them to someday break away and form their own division.

That move alone could be driven by the current discussion over cost of attendance. But NCAA president Mark Emmert is against any kind of model that would make players employees.

"I am adamantly opposed to paying student-athletes to be athletes," he told me. "There is merit in having discussion about increasing of the support they get to manage their legitimate costs of being a student."

We're back, then, to the old conundrum of fitting a profit-driven pursuit into an academic/amateur model.

"I would rather do away with collegiate athletics than abandon the amateur model," Spanier said.

 It is more than interesting that it is the commissioners who are suddenly taking the lead on NCAA reform.

"It's a different day when commissioners are almost in competition to see who can come up with the best reform package," Emmert said.

Slive makes perfect sense when he suggests doing away with text and phone call limitations for coaches. This is how modern teenagers communicate. If they choose not to respond to a coach, they don't have to.

"When you really think about it, why can't coaches make phone calls?" Slive said. "Our focus needs to be on those rules and regulations that go to the heart and soul of the integrity we want in intercollegiate athletics."

In other words, smash the Tressels. Ignore the texters.

So it's up to you, presidents. If you don't want to get that integrity back it's time for action. In a vague and complicated way, those commissioners have issued a challenge. It has become clear that the NCAA controls basketball because of the billions being produced by the tournament. The commissioners, though, control football. They created and manage the BCS, which awards $200 million in bowl payouts.

And if you control football, you control college athletics. Slive did what Emmert couldn't, call from specific sweeping changes to the NCAA. Emmert has no real power on the subject. He is a figurehead -- a highly educated and accomplished one, but still a figurehead. He represents 1,200 schools with different constituencies, goals and budgets.

All you have to do is look at the Longhorn Network situation. Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe took the lead, issuing a temporary ban on televising high school games. Big 12 ADs voted unanimously last week on a one-year moratorium. With a summit addressing the issue scheduled for later this month, I asked Emmert if there was any NCAA bylaw to cover the televising of prep games.

"Maybe," he said. 

(Here is a full Q & A with Emmert.)


Since: Jun 3, 2011
Posted on: August 10, 2011 7:11 pm

What to expect from this week's NCAA retreat

The timing is perfect for the presidents to gain control of college football by implementing a playoff for FBS schools.  It would take the power away from the bowl associations and their buddies, the commissioners of the BCS conferences.  The unique proposal that would do this is described in the book, “It’s Possible! Realignment and Playoffs – College Football’s Opportunity.”  The plan would help reduce the huge financial disparity that exists among college football programs.

Since: May 23, 2011
Posted on: August 10, 2011 12:47 pm

What to expect from this week's NCAA retreat

714area - Are you attemting to say that UNC and OSU won't receive any penalties?  Really?

And Alabama is currently on probation and received penalties.

Feel free to donate the $100 you just lost to a charity of your choice.

Since: Dec 1, 2010
Posted on: August 10, 2011 11:04 am

What to expect from this week's NCAA retreat

Who cares about the DUCKS?  When Phil Knight gets bored you'll be back to less than irrelevant.  think you guys could do anything without his checkbook?  All this retreat is doing is laying the ground work for the BCS conferences to form their own Association and wave goodbye to the dinosaur that's the NCAA.  The NCAA has no control over basketball,  but they do love the TV Money,  and that's all that holding the NCAA together.  

The NCAA died in '87 when SMU's Death Penalty Verdict didn't change anything.  Let's have their funeral and move on.

Since: Sep 7, 2010
Posted on: August 10, 2011 5:52 am

What to expect from this week's NCAA retreat

so does anyone still question the NCAA's bias.  not 1 single representative from the PAC. $100.00 Auburn, Alabama , tOS, UNC, the entire SEC wont see any penalties and the Ducks get slammed. Anyone?

Since: May 23, 2011
Posted on: August 9, 2011 12:28 pm

What to expect from this week's NCAA retreat

No, I'm not thrilled about every rule in the book because not every rule is applied to every sport.  Quite often football, men's and women's basketball, baseball and men's ice hockey are separated from the other sports (particularly as it relates to academic progress).

99% of the rules and 400 of the 435 pages are simple.  Like I said, the NCAA shouldn't make any changes because some fans don't take the time to learn or are incapable of understanding the rule book.  And they certainly shouldn't change anything because a coach or administrator pleads ignorance...because, quite often, when they do it's typically because they got busted and certainly isn't because they didn't know the rule.

Since: Aug 18, 2010
Posted on: August 9, 2011 12:19 pm

What to expect from this week's NCAA retreat

I brought up the bump rule because it is stupid.  It was only at the end of my post that I talked about how much space it takes up.  It could be a sentence, and it is still a stupid rule.  I gather you are completely happy with the current set of rules.  I would prefer that they be simplified.  We can agree to disagree.

Since: May 23, 2011
Posted on: August 9, 2011 11:55 am

What to expect from this week's NCAA retreat

I understand that it is about recruiting, but I'm not sure what to tell you if you don't see the difference between recruiting for a business school and recruiting within the NCAA. 

Regarding the bump rule, why did you even bring up how much space it takes up if at least part of your beef had to do with the length of the book?

What covers the other 429 1/2?  Most of it is definitions so that administrators can't claim ignorance. 

Since: Aug 18, 2010
Posted on: August 9, 2011 11:48 am

What to expect from this week's NCAA retreat

"Not sure about your last question because it has nothing to do with the NCAA or it's purpose.  That's just a red herring."

It is all about colleges recruiting.  Why do we have to have such different rules for a business school than we do a football team?  A merit scholar can get the full cost of a scholarship paid for him or her, but the athlete cannot.  Anybody up in arms about the merit scholar getting more of a scholarship than the athlete?  And, if the bump rule takes up less than half a page, what covers the other 429 and a half.  My point about the bump rule is that it is stupid and not enforced, not that it takes up too much space in the rule book. 

Since: Jul 15, 2011
Posted on: August 9, 2011 11:38 am

What to expect from this week's NCAA retreat

You're only half right, Mr. Dodd.  The Commissioners (Family Godfathers) AND the Athletic Directors (Capos) own college football.

Since: May 23, 2011
Posted on: August 9, 2011 11:10 am

What to expect from this week's NCAA retreat

It probably takes up less than half a page.

Not sure about your last question because it has nothing to do with the NCAA or it's purpose.  That's just a red herring.

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