Posted by Bryan Fischer
NEW YORK -- While most of the talk this week at Pac-12 Media Days was about the landmark networks that the conference is launching next year, there was always that elephant in the room with the league's two most high-profile programs, Oregon and USC, dealing with the NCAA enforcement process at one stage or another.
As someone who has gotten a crash course in the process recently, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott sees the trend of programs dealing with similar issues to continue over the next few years if things don't end up changing.
"It seems to me, in my two years here, that the cloud, the controversy, isn't going away," Scott said. "What I'm pushing for is aggressive reform at the NCAA level on the way enforcement is done, on the way we treat student-athletes, scholarships and other things like academic standards. I'm hopeful that President Mark Emmert, who is holding a retreat with the presidents, is going to try and drive an agenda.
"I'm not alone in this. Mike Slive, you'll hear (Jim) Delany, the six of us are aligned. We need some meaningful change, not incremental change. What shape that takes, I don't yet know. Mike and Jim have put out some specific proposals, which I admire them for, but the NCAA is a bureaucracy. There's a process they're going to have to go through. I hope the leadership at the president level is able to make more meaningful change than I've seen been able to be made in the last two years."
Given the fact that the money from television deals has never been higher and the news about violations has never been greater, many have just said to heck with it and the Big Six power conferences should just separate from the NCAA. Scott doesn't feel that's coming in the near future but recognizes that one group schools must be treated different than others.
"I think that would represent a tremendous failure of the NCAA if it comes to that," Scott said of a split. "I'd like to think that we are at a crossroads and at this retreat they'll recognize one size doesn't fit all anymore. There really is no such thing as competitive equity or even playing field. Certain schools obviously have more money than others and have better facilities and can pay more for coaches. Yet a lot of rules are based on one size fits all. That's just something the NCAA leadership is going to have to get over. If that's the standard by which any policy can get made, then I think it's destined to be an ineffective organization long term."
If there's one area that Scott hopes the leadership addresses, it's the legislative process itself.
"It needs to be more nimble," he said. "The thing they need to realize that these so-called clouds or scandals are all about the six conferences. That's what's affecting the image that everyone is talking about. The irony is the six conferences are ready to address those things. If they're held back on the basis that everyone can't do what you to do, then I think there could be challenges to the NCAA down the road."