It sounds like the NCAA has decided that getting news of potential football recruiting violations from sources like Mike Slive’s office may not be the best course of action.
The NCAA enforcement staff will focus on football recruiting in a new way in the coming months, a project Vice President of Enforcement Julie Roe Lach has discussed with member institutions and the media since assuming her new position last fall.
One big problem right now is that the NCAA doesn’t know much.
… Five investigators from major-enforcement and two from the agents, gambling and amateurism staff will spend the next several months building relationships in the football recruiting world (both scholastic and non-scholastic) and gathering information about what is happening in that sport. AGA Director Rachel Newman Baker will lead the group. The intent is to make sure the enforcement staff becomes as knowledgeable about football recruiting as it has grown to be about basketball recruiting.
“We have an idea of what’s going on, but we don’t want to assume anything,” Lach said. “We are trying to find out what the issues are that we need to be tackling. The idea is just to get more information.”
Because more information builds trust.
… In other words, instead of finding out what has happened after the fact, the NCAA plans to be in on the process as it’s happening. According to our own Bryan Fischer, he talked to a couple of members of the NCAA that told him they were handing out cards to as many players and coaches as they could. This way both sides can remain in touch about what is going on during that player’s recruitment, and could possibly help stave off any kind of trouble. It also sends a message to everybody that the NCAA is aware of what’s going on, which may help keep violations from occuring.
You can see the hole the NCAA has dug for itself here, can’t you? It’s allowed ignorance of the rules to become embedded in the sanctions process. If you’re a recruit or a school chasing a high-level prospect, why on earth would you want to alert the NCAA to your awareness of a potential problem and risk losing a plausible (or, in Ohio State’s case, implausible) defense?
Answer: unless you’re crazy, you wouldn’t. Which means for this new regime to work, either the NCAA has to toss out ignorance as a defense, which opens it up to all sorts of criticism for being inconsistent, or it has to engage in some serious hair-splitting by determining in certain cases that the parties involved should have known of violations. In Mark Emmert’s world, my bet is on the latter.
In any event, we can look forward to a future full of awkward moments. Any organization which admits to being flummoxed by the likes of Cecil Newton is going to have plenty of problems with folks bent on shading the rules.