Dr. Saturday

Urban Meyer thinks the NCAA should have subpoena power. Can that really work?

Graham Watson
Dr. Saturday

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Urban_Meyer

Since Urban Meyer left coaching for the broadcast booth, he's become outspoken on how college football should be policed, especially with NCAA sanctions seemingly being handed down to a new school every week.

Meyer did a Q&A with Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com and suggests that granting subpoena power to the NCAA would help alleviate many of the issues college football is facing today.

CBSSports.com: What about subpoena power for the NCAA in its investigations? Is that something you'd welcome?

Meyer: "Absolutely. The problem right now the investigation process takes five years, four years. USC can't go to a bowl game. They [current players] were 14 years old, 15 years old when this was going on.

"The two areas that are missing in my mind are fear and lack of knowledge. Fear on the side of the coaches and lack of knowledge on the side of the NCAA. Why not combine the two? Every quarter you have a conference call [with coaches].' What do you hear? What's going on? We hear about these recruiting services or camps or bumps. They put a memo together and send it out. 'This is what we hear is going on. If you get caught here is the punishment.' "

"You won't catch everybody, That's not the goal. You want to stop the behavior."

Subpoena power is like a unicorn -- a mythical thing the NCAA would love to have, but could never get. The NCAA isn't the government. No one has to talk to investigators, who probably have the most thankless job in all of college sports, and consequently investigations take as long as five years before sanctions are handed down. It seems like we have to wait for Yahoo!'s Dan Wetzel, Charles Robinson or Jason Cole to break a story before the NCAA jumps in and starts getting answers. The media is becoming a much bigger deterrent to cheating than the NCAA and that's because of the respect and the audience.
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If the NCAA wants to be taken seriously, it needs to continue to be tough and diligent. The one thing the NCAA has going for it in terms of subpoena power is that the government is starting to stick its nose into college sports more and more. Currently, the biggest gripe is a possible violation of antitrust laws by the BCS, but as more and more programs continue to reap major sanctions for dealings with agents, car dealers, recruiting specialists, etc., it's going to pique the government's interest and then an intervention might occur.

Another thing that could create government involvement in collegiate sports is "pay-for-play." If players are getting paid, then they're going to be subject taxes and the IRS, which could actually create more issues for players than it actually solves.

But I digress...

Meyer, who walked the fine line between competitiveness and compliance at the likes of Bowling Green, Utah and Florida, noted that a solution to deter violations might be as simple as identifying a punishment within the NCAA manual.

CBSSports.com: What did you tell the NCAA in general terms about the current climate?

Meyer: "I have a good relationship with the NCAA. What I told them and what I told others: We complicate this thing as having a very clear set of rules and a very clear set of punishment structure ... [The NCAA Manual], it's a big book that says you can't do this, you can't do that. But it never says, if you do this, if you rob a bank you know exactly what is going to happen to you.

"If you commit -- a term I never heard before until a few years ago -- a secondary violation, there is no such thing as a secondary violation. If it's a mistake it's one thing, but if it's intentional you should be punished as such."

Meyer's right. There needs to be a concrete cause and effect for violations. If a coach knows he's going to face a postseason ban or have to vacate wins, it might be a bigger deterrent than leaving some nebulous punishment out there to be determined at a date that could be many years down the road.

Meyer's concerns and ideas aren't anything new, but they're starting to gain traction. While giving the NCAA subpoena power might be a dream, many coaches, athletic directors and even commissioners are calling for clearer rules, a streamlined NCAA manual and policing that would help clean up the game.

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