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Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany says NCAA enforcement is 'overmatched,' changes could come with autonomy

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany speaks at a news conference in Rosemont, Ill., where the conference administrators gathered for meetings, on Wednesday, May 14, 2014
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Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany speaks at a news conference in Rosemont, Ill., where the conference administrators gathered for meetings, on Wednesday, May 14, 2014. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

As the August vote for autonomy for the Power 5 conferences inches closer, a part of that potential restructuring that has not been given much attention is the NCAA’s enforcement division.

In an interview with CBSSports.com’s Dennis Dodd, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said that the commissioners from the Power 5 conferences – the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, SEC and Pac 12 – are analyzing and thinking of making changes to way enforcement is applied.

Delany went so far as to say that the NCAA enforcement division’s “ability to develop information” is “overmatched.”

“I think anybody who is honest about it, realizes there is not much action right now and we need to scrub (clean) it,” Delany said. “Nobody is comfortable with some of the tactics, aggressive tactics. Some people thought they (investigators) crossed the line. Be that as it may, we have to bring cases that can be proven – not just bring cases. Are there other ways to do this?”

If autonomy is granted as expected, schools from the Power 5 would be given the ability to address issues like the full cost of attendance, insurance matters, expense coverage, outside academic support and other matters that affect student-athletes. Those issues, especially covering the full cost of attendance, are the priorities for now, but enforcement could soon follow.

As Dodd writes, the five conferences would have “unprecedented power” and “have control over voting” when legislation relating to the 65 Power 5 schools is under discussion. This, of course, could change the way NCAA rules are enforced and Delany has reached out to former NCAA enforcement chief Julie Roe Lach to discuss the possibilities.

“Over time the pendulum has swung on how much enforcement has developed leads in cases,” Roe Lach told CBSSports.com. “You can’t just rely on self-reports from schools. You can’t rely just on investigative reporters in media. Should (enforcement) be outsourced? We’re exploring outsourcing surveillance and generating leads.”

Delany says that enforcement is at a disadvantage compared to outside investigators and that the commissioners need to be “more creative” and “more honest” when it comes to gaining information moving forward. Roe Lach, who was fired in February 2013 amid the Miami scandal, said that the NCAA’s current enforcement staff is “more passive” when it comes to generating cases.

Roe Lach is proponent of outsourcing enforcement using “contracted investigators,” a method she says could save a lot of time.

“The point of this is to bring in people that don’t have a dog in the fight but have expertise,” she said.

The commissioners from all 32 conferences will meet this week at the Collegiate Commissioners Association in Laguna Niguel, Calif. The more pressing autonomy issues are expected to be the focus, but discussions about enforcement should be on the way.

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Sam Cooper is a contributor for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!

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