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Gene Smith, Urban Meyer support NCAA changes

Andrew Holleran / Photo editor

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 the institution’s website.
Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith, first-year OSU football coach Urban Meyer and other Big Ten Conference football coaches voiced support of the revamped enforcement structure.
Smith said he agrees with the new rules and says they help fix a “flawed” system.
“I am supportive of the new legislation,” Smith said in an email. “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.”
Meyer said he was in favor of updating the “antiquated” system of enforcement as well.
“I’m fully supportive of it. I appreciate the NCAA revisiting the discipline structure … I am in full support of very stringent penalties and keeping, or even restoring, the integrity of college football,” Meyer said during Tuesday’s Big Ten teleconference. “Throughout history, the only way to keep civilization and keep things in order is to have very strong rules and enforce them. Clear rules with very firm, swift punishment.”
During the weekly teleconference, several coaches spoke on the issue, with Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema and Nebraska coach Bo Pelini saying they were fine with added responsibility for a coach.
Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald, who was also on the call, agreed with them.
“There’s no question, the level of transparency and the level of accountability needs to go up,” Fitzgerald said. “And the No. 1 person that needs to be held accountable for the coaching staff’s actions are the head coach. That’s why you are called the head coach. I think the NCAA is taking some really positive steps.”
Another change involves 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 “promoting an atmosphere of compliance.”
There was also a change in tiers of violations. Rather than categorizing a violation as “major” or “secondary,” there will be four levels, with a Level I violation being the most severe. The NCAA could potentially disqualify a team for multiple years of postseason play and fine the program millions of dollars for a Level I 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 OSU 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 during a press conference Tuesday. “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.”
Emmert began the process of establishing a new set of rules in August 2011. The new enforcement structure will take effect on Aug. 1, 2013.

Dan Hope and Evan Speyer contributed to this story. 

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