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NCAA approves tougher violations rules, Gene Smith sees improvement in ‘flawed system’

The NCAA Board of Directors released a new, more stringent set of rules Tuesday for enforcing athletic programs’ adherence to codes of conduct.

The new rules try to simplify and accelerate what has traditionally been a long and complicated rule-enforcing process. The rules also aim to increase the severity of the sanctions and make punishments more uniform instead of treating things on a case-by-case basis, according to the announcement posted on ncaa.org. 

Among the most notable changes involve holding head coaches more accountable for the actions of their staff. Now, violations by any member of the staff will reflect on the head coach, unless he or she can prove their personal effort for an “atmosphere of strict compliance.”

There was also a change in tiers of violations. Rather than categorizing a violation as “major” or “secondary,” there will now be four levels, with a level one violation being the most “severe breach of conduct.”

The NCAA could potentially disqualify a team for multiple years of postseason play and fine the program millions of dollars for a level one violation. Other consequences for various levels of infractions include harsher scholarship reductions, recruiting limits and head coach suspensions. Suspensions for coaches as well as programs can range from 10 percent of the season to a full season.

The NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions will expand from 10 members to 24, speeding up the infractions process and handing out violations in a more timely manner. In Ohio State football’s case, this could have meant serving out OSU’s bowl ineligibility during the 2011 season rather than the current season.

The last of the most significant changes in the new set of rules includes a more consistent penalty system. Sanctions will no longer be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and the new standards will ensure equal treatment – and punishment – across the NCAA.

NCAA President Mark Emmert said the rules aim to eliminate the temptation for teams to do whatever it takes to win.

“We have sought all along to remove the `risk-reward’ analysis that has tempted people — often because of the financial pressures to win at all costs — to break the rules in the hopes that either they won’t be caught or that the consequences won’t be very harsh if they do get caught,” Emmert said. “The new system the board adopted today is the result of a lot of hard work and membership input devoted to protecting the collegiate model.”

OSU athletic director Gene Smith said he agrees with the new rules and says they help to solve a “flawed” system.

“I am supportive of the new legislation,” Smith said. “It provides clarity and transparency to a system of enforcement and infraction management that was flawed. It also will improve the ability for cases to be handled more expeditiously.”

Emmert began the process of establishing a new set of rules in August 2011. The new enforcement structure will take effect on August 1, 2013.

Dan Hope contributed to this article

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