NCAA Committee on Infractions exploring change to possibly penalize ADs, presidents and others

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The NCAA Committee on Infractions began exploring legislation adopted last month that directly penalizes non-coaching staff members who are at the center of NCAA enforcement action — that includes university presidents.

In a meeting Thursday, the committee discussed the scope of penalties that could be levied on several school athletic and academic officials in infractions cases, including compliance officers, athletic directors, presidents and chancellors. They agreed to examine the matter on a “case by case” basis, said Matt Mikrut, the NCAA managing director for the Office of the Committees on Infractions. They will determine penalties based on the person’s activity and involvement in violations and their role within the university.

Also during Thursday's meeting, open to a select group of media, the committee decided to use the identities of those at the center of investigations — i.e. coaches, administrators and presidents — in public infractions reports. Names of individuals are often kept anonymous.

Committee members set parameters on naming school athletic directors and presidents in a report. The NCAA enforcement staff, which is independent from the Committee on Infractions, must have found a school guilty of “lack of institutional control” for a president’s name to be revealed. A school must have been found guilty of a “failure to monitor” for an athletic director’s name to emerge in a report.

Both concepts — penalizing non-coaching members as well as using their identities — is a way to hold responsible individuals at a university beyond those often subject to direct penalties: coaching staff members and, most notably, head coaches. It is rare, though not unprecedented, for non-coaching members to be at the center of penalties.

The move expands upon a penalty enacted last January that targeted head coaches and their responsibility over violations committed within their programs.

Suspending non-coaching members presents complications, though. Members are wrestling with how to suspend a person who does not hold a specific coaching role.

“Our jurisdiction and legislation only extends to athletically related duties,” Mikrut said. “What would be the scope of their [non-coach] suspension?”

He used the example of a tutor potentially being suspended from tutoring athletes for a certain period of time. For athletic administrators, maybe it means a ban from athletic fundraising or sports events, he said.

The Committee on Infractions is an independent administrative body charged with deciding infractions cases and is comprised of volunteers from NCAA member schools and conferences and individuals from the general public who have legal training.

The committee’s changes continue a trend by the NCAA and committee to levy penalties on individuals — the adults — rather than typical sanctions that can impact current athletes who, perhaps, held no responsibility in the violations. Those would include postseason bans, the vacation of records or even scholarship reductions that can impact a team as a whole.

The Committee on Infractions continues to support the vacating of records and wins but determines such on a case-by-case basis. The committee wants to make vacating records a “core penalty,” Mikrut said, giving members more access to the penalty in a variety of cases.

All of these measures strengthen the Committee on Infractions’ authority to further penalize wrongdoers at a time when the organization’s rules are under attack by the courts. Such changes could invite more litigation aimed at the organization, which does not create rules but enforces the rules adopted by its member schools.

Specifically, NCAA investigations and subsequent penalties are currently under siege by the courts in litigation that, oftentimes, is triggered by its own member schools.