Mark Emmert says the NCAA is being cautious before it opens investigations at schools linked to corruption trials
Emmert says any investigations of schools accused of cheating would not be finished by the Final Four
NEW YORK – The NCAA has "the manpower and the willpower" to investigate schools implicated in the recent shoe company trials, NCAA President Mark Emmert said Wednesday.
However, Emmert said any investigations would not be complete before the Final Four concludes in April.
The conviction of three men in the pay-for-play scandal has the potential to be the biggest enforcement endeavor in the association's history.
"We're moving forward as assertively as we can while still having to respect that [legal] process," Emmert said at a sports business conference.
That begins to answer huge remaining question: Does the NCAA have the willingness to take on such a wide-ranging case that could impact some of the game's bluebloods.
"We certainly have the manpower and the willpower," Emmert told a small gathering of reporters after speaking at the Learfield Intercollegiate Athletic Forum. "Having said that, that doesn't mean we can operate beyond our brief. We're very attentive to it. My people are working on it."
The NCAA changed its rules this year to adopt information revealed in court cases for its investigations. The FBI recently allowed the NCAA to adopt some of the evidence it developed in the conviction of two former adidas representatives and an aspiring agent.
The NCAA reforms call for stricter penalties against schools and coaches who engage in this activity. Yahoo Sports reported last month the NCAA has been given permission by federal authorities to begin its own investigations.
"It is still the case ... that there are ongoing trials," Emmert said. "We have to be very respectful of that process. There is some assumptions in some quarters that we get all access to all the evidence gathered by the FBI. That's not true.
"That doesn't mean the FBI is backing up to Indianapolis and dumping out all its files."
A wiretap involving a Kansas assistant coach revealed that the father of Duke star freshman Zion Williamson was allegedly seeking extra benefits in the form of a house, a job and cash. Neither Kansas nor Duke has been found guilty of any wrongdoing.
That could change. One person intimately familiar with the NCAA enforcement process told CBS Sports if the enforcement division didn't go in on these cases, "what little credibility they have will be gone if they are unable to process cases from this."
Another person familiar with the process suggested it would be unfair to the 300 or so Division I schools who don't traffic in the sometimes-seedy recruiting of top 50 players.
"We want to do everything we can to make sure we're promoting the ethics of the game," Emmert said. "This has cast a very bad light on college basketball. We're not going to have everything wrapped up by the Final Four."
That risks the possibility that any schools later penalized could have their appearance vacated in the tournament and Final Four. earlier this year, Louisville became the first men's Division I basketball program to have its its national championship vacated.
This year the NCAA adopted sweeping reforms recommended by the commission chaired by former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice.
The reforms include stiffer penalties and the addition of independent, outside persons to the adjudicative process.
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