Tag:Mark Emmert
Posted on: May 9, 2011 12:10 pm

Jim Delany isn't sweating the Dept. of Justice

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Last week the Department of Justice sent a letter to NCAA president Mark Emmert and BCS executive Bill Hancock asking questions about the current BCS system, and implying that simply saying that the BCS doesn't violate federal anti-trust laws isn't good enough to prove that it doesn't. Which is a good indication that the Department of Justice is getting ready to find out for itself. Well, we've yet to hear from Emmert or Hancock on the matter, but Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany had no qualms talking about it to the USA Today.

According to Delany, the BCS has nothing to worry about.

"You never should be overconfident on legal matters. Like anything else, once they're in a courtroom or in front of a jury, you can't predict outcomes," Delany told the USA Today. "Having said that, we know what (the college football postseason once) was, and we know what is. And we know there was a thorough vetting of all antitrust issues at the beginning and during (the life of the BCS) because our presidents have always wanted to know the legal basis on which we operate.

"There's no judge or jury in the world that can make you enter into an four-team, eight-team or 16-team playoff."

Delany's point being that even if the DOJ were to break the BCS, conferences would go back to the old way of securing bowl contracts and not form a playoff system. 

"I know at the end of the day that we've operated in total good faith. I know that (the postseason) is better than it was," Delany continued. "And if it can't go forward, it can't go forward. But I also know that we can't be enjoined, we can't be directed or forced into something we don't think is the right thing for us to do."

I'll agree with Delany in that the current bowl system is better than it used to be. Before we settled national championships on nothing but opinion, and at least now we get a championship game, even if many of us don't always agree with the way the opponents in that game are settled. Still, just because things get better, doesn't mean they can't be improved further.

And as we all know, the BCS could definitely use some improvement.

Posted on: May 4, 2011 5:05 pm
Edited on: May 4, 2011 5:06 pm

TEXT: Dept. of Justice's letter to Emmert, BCS

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Yesterday, the United States Department of Justice issued a letter to NCAA president Mark Emmert and BCS executive Bill Hancock, asking why the FBS (formerly I-A football) did not have a postseason playoff, among other questions. The DOJ has not introduced a formal case against the NCAA, nor has it announced any future plans to bring one, but this letter, reprinted in full below, makes it appear that simply declaring confidence that no antitrust laws are being broken, as Hancock has done in the past, may no longer a viable option for the NCAA or BCS.

The letter is also available in PDF form from the Utah attorney general's office here


Antitrust Division 
Assistant Attorney General 
RFK Main Justice Building 
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. 
Washington, D.C.  20530-0001 
(202)514-2401/  (202)616-2645 (Fax) 

May 3, 2011 

Mark A. Emmert, Ph.D. 
National Collegiate Athletic Association 
P.O. Box 6222 
Indianapolis, IN 46206 

Dear Dr. Emmert:

Serious questions continue to arise suggesting that the current Bowl Championship Series (BCS) system may not be conducted consistent with the competition principles expressed in the federal antitrust laws. The Attorney General of Utah has announced an intention to file an antitrust lawsuit against the BCS. In addition, we recently received a request to open an investigation of the BCS from a group of twenty-one professors, a copy of which is attached. Other prominent individuals also have publicly encouraged the Antitrust Division to take action aggainst the BCS, arguing that it violates the antitrust laws.

On March 2, 2011, the New York Times reported that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) was "willing to help create a playoff format to decide a national championship for the top level of college football." In that context, it would be helpful for us to understand your views and/or plans on the following:

  1. Why does the Football Bowl Subdivision not have a playoff, when so many other NCAA sports have NCAA-run playoffs or championships?
  2. What steps, if any, has the NCAA taken to create a playoff among Football Bowl Subdivision programs before or during your tenure? To the extent any steps were taken, why were they not successful? What steps does the NCAA plan to take to create a playoff at this time?
  3. Have you determined that there are aspects of the BCS system that do not serve the interests of fans, colleges, universities, and players? To what extent could an alternative system better serve those interests?

Your views would be relevant in helping us to determine the best course of action with regard to the BCS. Therefore, we thank you in advance for your prompt attention to this matter.


Christine A. Varney

cc:   Bill Hancock 

BCS executive director

Posted on: February 13, 2011 1:58 pm
Edited on: February 13, 2011 2:08 pm

Mark Emmert talks NCAA transparency, Cam Newton

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Mark Emmert is only four months into his tenure as the NCAA President, but he's already had quite a bit on his plate in that short amount of time. Between the dealings between agents and players at places like North Carolina, the Cam Newton investigation, and the suspension of several Ohio State players, there have been a lot of rulings by the NCAA during his tenure and a lot of confusion about those rulings.

So with that in mind, Emmert met with a group of AP sports editors at IUPUI on Saturday night. There Emmert stressed that transparency is critical to the future of the NCAA, and that he hopes the NCAA and media can work together in the future. He also shared plans for holding a mock hearing in which the media would be allowed to participate and ask questions.

Of course, no discussion between the media and Emmert about transparency could finish without Emmert being asked about the Cam Newton case

"We try hard to get it right every time," Emmert said. "Getting it right is often in the eye of the beholder. The cases we saw this fall were highly controversial and highly debatable. I understand that, and some of them were even enormously frustrating to me.

"I said very loud and clear that I think it's absolutely a fundamentally wrong for a father to try to sell the services of his son or daughter to the highest bidder, to a university. We ought never to allow that to happen, but yet, having not anticipated that, we didn't have any rule or structure that said it was a violation of any of our rules. I found that grossly inappropriate that didn't have a structure in which we could say, 'No, you can't do that.'

"There was no evidence that money had changed hands and there was no evidence that Auburn University had anything to do with it. We would up making a decision that felt to many people morally objectionable, but that fit the facts and the circumstances.

"We find ourselves making those kinds of judgment calls often."

Newton, of course, was suspended for a day but never missed any games and Auburn went on to win the national championship with him at quarterback. Looking at it now, though, it's still hard to believe that the NCAA didn't have any rules in place for a parent selling their child to the highest bidder. Considering all the shady dealings that have taken place with player recruitment in the past, it's hard to imagine that nobody ever saw this type of thing coming.
Posted on: December 23, 2010 5:10 pm

Nick Saban expresses doubt about new NCAA rules

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Back in September, the NCAA introduced legislation to make it possible for coaches to be suspended over secondary NCAA violations. Naturally, this idea is causing consternation among those in the coaching ranks, as secondary violations are generally regarded on the same level of seriousness as parking tickets. In the NCAA's eyes, of course, that mindset is itself a problem, so down this road we go.

Nick Saban sees all this, and Nick Saban doesn't like what he sees. Here's what he told reporters Tuesday, according to TideSports.com:

“I thought originally in our discussions, in some of our meetings, that this was a rule that was going to be sort of implemented for people who had multiple secondary violations,” Saban said. “In other words, there was a disrespect for the rules shown by someone continuing to do the wrong thing. It wasn’t like you had one thing that happened that’s bad … and you could get suspended for a game.”

“I think it hurts the players when you start suspending coaches, so I’m not sure I’m in agreement. But I’m not sure that I have a solution, because we do respect the rules and we do want everybody to abide by the rules,” Saban said. “If this punishment is what’s going to change someone’s behavior, then I think it’s good. But if it’s not going to change anybody’s behavior, then I don’t really think it’s good.”

This is actually a remarkably sane approach to the issue. Punishment for the sake of punishment isn't necessarily a positive response to a widespread problem (see: Drugs, War On). Saban correctly recognizes that if the amount of secondary violations doesn't appreciably decrease, football would be worse off if some number of coaches are suspended than if none are suspended.

Further, it's worth remembering that it's really easy to commit a secondary NCAA violation. Derek Dooley just committed one the other day when he accidentally posted on a recruit's Facebook wall, after all. Arkansas had recruits try on jerseys and is under investigation. In basketball, Tom Izzo caught a one-game suspension for paying the wrong guy to run a weekend basketball camp.

So between this and Saban's inartful (yet not incorrect) comparison of unscrupulous agents and "pimps," it's plainly evident that he has a better grasp on incentives and disincentives than most people. Compare Saban's willingness to examine whether a rule is good or bad based on its evident effects on behavior with this from NCAA president Mark Emmert a month before his arrival with the organization, earlier this year:

"I'm really pleased with how we're working with the universities and colleges to try to correct behaviors that are not in the school's best interests," Emmert said in a phone interview Tuesday from Seattle. "Under my leadership, we're not going to see any diminutive effect of that effort. But I like where we're going right now."

"I can't talk about any [current] cases, but the fact that we've got strong enforcement going on, I think, is a good thing," he said.

Now, we're not about to accuse Emmert of not knowing or caring whether every one of those rules is appropriate for the NCAA. That would be wrong. It just seems that with extremely limited disincentive for, say, an agent to make subtle overtures to a prospective pro or a tattoo shop to offer the hookup to a football player in return for some swag, merely increasing the punishment on players taking advantage of such a relationship isn't going to solve any long-term problems; it'll probably just mean more players get in trouble. And if football suffers when its teams lose coaches to suspension with no effect on behavior, it sure as heck also suffers when more of its players are suspended for doing logical things like selling goods for money.

So while we'll stop short of recommending Nick Saban be the next president of the NCAA, in our estimation, the organization would be better off if Saban takes an advisory role on policy once he decides to take his career in a less demanding direction. Or think about it this direction: if Nick Saban's writing the rules, do you really think Terrelle Pryor or A.J. Green sit for a third of the season just for selling things that were given to them in a transaction that doesn't get the other side in trouble at all?

Posted on: September 14, 2010 6:05 pm

NCAA's new prez Emmert has eye on enforcement

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Ever heard of Mark Emmert? Probably not, but that's about to change. Emmert, currently the University of Washington president, was named the NCAA's next president, and Emmert will assume the role in October. He's got a lot of work ahead of him.

Principal among Emmert's concerns, according to an interview he gave with the USA Today, is enforcement, and rightly so; every vacated win, championship appearance, or Heisman Trophy is a black eye for an organization that has tasked itself with preserving athletic amateurism at all costs.

There's an important point to be made here, that Emmert's focus is on enforcement and not, say, legislation; Emmert hasn't talked about adding new rules nearly as much as putting more heat on offenders of existing rules, and this shift in priorities will almost certainly extend to the staff structure itself:


Emmert wouldn't rule out a reduction in the NCAA's staff of almost 500, paralleling cost-reduction efforts at many individual schools. But he was emphatic Tuesday that any such measures wouldn't extend to enforcement

That staff, Emmert said, "potentially" could grow.

Responding in part to the concerns of conference commissioners, the NCAA has beefed up enforcement efforts in men's basketball in particular. It broke off three investigators two years ago to focus solely on the sport, and is putting three new investigators on the team this month.

Of course, Emmert's efforts will likely be insufficient (or, at the very least, certainly more inefficient) if he can't remove the incentives or dramatically increase disincentives for misbehavior in the first place. Agents still pursue athletes while they're in college because it still makes good business sense. Coaches still figure out a way to get money into players' and AAU coaches' hands because in the unlikely event that they're caught, they can still count on having a job, either at the school or somewhere else. That's Emmert's primary challenge, right there.

Category: NCAAF
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