During Big 12 media days on Monday conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby made headlines during his annual state-of-the-league address by stating “cheating pays.” The talking points he used to describe the breakdown of the NCAA enforcement process are nothing new. College football fans for years have understood that the NCAA enforcement process does not have the proper resources to keep up with the countless amount of NCAA violations being committed each year.
The NCAA lacks the proper amount of investigators to investigate so many of these alleged violations. What’s worse is that these investigators lack subpoena power which is a vital tool investigators should have. Because of this lack of subpoena power investigators often struggle trying to get schools to cooperate with an investigation. It is practically impossible for NCAA investigators to do their job to the best of their ability with these limitations in place.
The biggest problem for the NCAA is that even when they catch schools and levy sanctions, those sanctions have very little impact. USC was given a two-year bowl ban and the loss of 30 scholarships over a three-year period. The year after the bowl ban expired USC found themselves ranked #1 in the AP preseason poll. Ohio State was levied with a bowl ban in 2012. That year Ohio State went undefeated and the following year went undefeated again in regular season play. And then there is Penn State, a groundbreaking punishment which included a four-year bowl ban plus the loss of 40 scholarships over a four-year period. When the sanctions were first announced many thought Penn State could never field a competitive team in the coming years after such a tough sentence. While the sanctions have yet to be completed Penn State has compiled a 15-9 record during their first two seasons under NCAA sanctions, and continues to bring in strong recruiting classes.
In all three cases the schools quickly rebounded from NCAA sanctions. This is reflective of the NCAA enforcement process in too many cases to count. When the NCAA does manage to bring major sanctions against an NCAA member, the effects of those sanctions are only a minor bump in the road. Sure the violations have some amount of impact on the major football and basketball schools, but do the sanctions have enough impact to discourage cheating? The answer is no.
The punishments that the NCAA can levy don’t really offset the gains made by a school that cheats. If the NCAA can’t stop the momentum of a major college football program by using the biggest guns in their arsenal, then how the heck are they going to have an impact when sanctioning schools for smaller rules violations with smaller sanctions?
That is a critical question that plenty of college administrators besides Bob Bowlsby are asking.
Going back to Bowlsby’s comments he also addressed another issue, the lack of NCAA investigations against FBS schools in recent months. This is perhaps the biggest problem with the NCAA right now. In the last few years the NCAA has found itself in a constant stream of self-embarrassment and facing heavy criticism. During this time praise for the NCAA has been rare. To top it off a series of botched NCAA investigations have come at a time when many within the leadership structure of the P5 are giving serious considerations to forming their own version of the NCAA.
Have all of the NCAA woes finally reached a breaking point for the NCAA governing body? Is the NCAA legitimately afraid to start any new investigations into P5 schools out of fears that another mishap could be the last straw for the P5 and set the stage for a breakaway? Do boosters, coaches, recruits, agents, and student athletes understand this volatile situation and are seeing the green light for a free for all on committing NCAA violations?
These are all important questions being raised by Bob Bowlsby and some may could say that he is correct. Bowlsby’s comments are further evidence that the NCAA is rapidly approaching its breaking point if serious changes are not made.
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© sportspolitico™ July 22, 2014