Guesties: NCAA fines? Fine!

Posted: August 24, 2011 by terryvandrovec in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

By Rich Jensen
Guest blogger

While there have been numerous calls to revamp the NCAA rulebook, I’ve seen little discussion of the need to adjust the penalties the NCAA imposes. To be sure, there is a call for greater transparency in penalty assessment and something along the lines of “sentencing guidelines,” but that concerns the doling out of penalties, not the penalties themselves.

At this time, the NCAA cannot directly impose financial penalties on member institutions. Indeed, it may seem that the NCAA would be greatly overreaching its role if it were to impose financial penalties, but is this the case?

Arguably not. In the first place, professional sports sanctioning bodies have the authority to impose financial penalties on member organizations, players, coaches and employees.

Secondly, the NCAA has long been permitted by member institutions to levy indirect financial penalties. Consider the ban on bowl games imposed on USC. This is an indirect financial penalty as USC is prohibited from cashing a bowl appearance check.

If the NCAA is allowed to assess financial penalties directly, it would give them far more flexibility in disciplining member institutions.

At present the NCAA has a variety of tools by which schools and occasionally employees are disciplined (scholarship restrictions, practice restrictions, bowl game and post-season bans, the ‘show cause’ restriction, etc.). However, these penalties have had negligible impact on compliance at schools where there are obvious financial benefits for rules violations.

Essentially, rules are flouted because it is profitable to do so, and because punishment rarely impacts the guilty party.

The NCAA also has the “death penalty” – the ability to suspend a program for a period of time. This has only been exercised three times in Division I.

The NCAA is basically armed with a variety of pellet guns and a nuclear bomb. They do not have a disciplinary mechanism that can be scaled to match the severity of the infraction.

Monetary fines would provide just that scalability.

Additionally, monetary fines would place renegade boosters, agents and coaches within reach of the university and (indirectly) the NCAA. By adding language to employment contracts, donation agreements and agent applications which makes the signer responsible for any penalties assessed against the school, rules violations would carry a real financial risk for parties that are currently able to break rules with relative impunity.

The cost of carrying NCAA penalties while attempting to obtain restitution from former employees through civil process (lawsuits, judgments, garnishment, etc.) would provide a strong incentive for universities to carefully supervise all athletic department employees and boosters.

Finally, monetary fines would make it easier for the NCAA to write legislation patterned on the RICO Act, which imposes stiff additional penalties on patterns of corrupt conduct. In instances where a university has been willfully blind or has actively encouraged a pattern of rule breaking, the ability to impose significant additional penalties without needing to establish evidence of further wrongdoing would simplify the enforcement process.

About the author: In addition to being a diehard sports fan, Jensen is some sort of computer genius. He even has his own link shortener.

  1. […] there has to be some accountability for these programs actions. A guest blogger on TVFury suggested the NCAA start assessing fines to programs. But let’s be honest… it wouldn’t take most of these programs but a […]

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