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Change by the NCAA should start with altering a few basic principles

September 30, 2020

A few weeks ago I posted a column about the issues on the horizon that the NCAA will face in the near future. Hob Howell, a loyal listener, reader and friend,  suggested that I follow it up one day with a proposal to fix it. And good ideas should always be rewarded. So here we go.

First things first, change the leadership completely. And by that I mean I would install a system of governance that matters. What does Mark Emmert do right now? Other than talk, what can he do? What do the rules allow him to do? As far as I can tell, if you break any rules in the NCAA it depends on how they either feel about you as an institution or how good your attorneys are. It should not be this difficult.

To achieve leadership reform, I would break apart the sports with every sport having it’s own commissioner. From football to rowing, each sport will have a commish. You could possibly lump some of the smaller sports together for oversight, but this is a must for larger sports as football and basketball need someone to oversee them specifically. If you had a Czar or a commissioner, then they could be the last word on many issues. For example, you could simply transfer rules and you would have someone that is overseeing each sport to deal with the nuances of what they would individually need. 

Additionally, a penalty should be in place that actually makes people wary of cheating. Vacating wins? Stop the madness. What does that do? It’s time to punish the rule breakers and the people who hire them enough so that you actually deter cheating. Whatever they are doing now is and has never stopped a cheat. Rather, it’s created an evolution path to new new levels of sneakiness. The FBI was trying to blow the lid off of college basketball and what did you get? A few coaches and an agent. Will the NCAA really lower the boom on schools like Kansas or LSU? Maybe, but I bet those schools have better lawyers.

Give heavy fines, long-term postseason bans, and really put some weight on a show-cause penalty while being uniform in your enforcement. No one should be seen as too big to fail, so don’t let the big dogs scare you anymore. 

With a movement toward reasonable enforcement of the rules and administration, also working on accepting the world that we all actually live in. Stop trying to fight for 1970s versions of college athletics. The law, the government and society have spoken and it’s time to get with the times. Work with your athletes on Name-Imagine-Likeness rights which congress is already laying the groundwork for. Keep pace and make sure this is not a mess for you when it eventually starts.

Uniformity in enforcement will be really difficult if athletes in Florida and California can get paid, but athletes in other states can’t. So you might as well change the rules now. 

Finally, work towards a plan that forces the separation of the Power 5 and the rest of the conferences in football. Let’s give everyone a fair shake. I would get rid of the weekly nonsense reality show that are the CFP rankings. Only one show matters and that’s the last one the playoff. Make the move to eight teams. P5 conference winners and three teams that include at least one Group of 5 and two at large, with the possibility of a second Group of 5 if they are deemed worthy. 

It’s time to accept the world we are in, enact real change, and move forward.

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Change by the NCAA should start with altering a few basic principles

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