A 13-member group of presidents, commissioners and athletic directors approved an NCAA proposal to overhaul the process of investigating violations and handing down punishment where clear and egregious penalties are necessary.
The goal of the NCAA Board of Directors' four-level violation review is to expedite investigations and amplify punishment.
"We 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," said Mark Emmert, NCAA president. "The new system the board adopted ... is the result of a lot of hard work and membership input devoted to protecting the collegiate model."
The violation structure now has four tiers, from Level 1 -- a severe breach of conduct -- to Level 4, described in the NCAA synopsis as all incidental issues. In the past, these isolated incidents usually involving technical rules violations were defined as "minor infractions."
The new structure becomes effective Aug. 1, 2013. Conduct breaches that occur before Oct. 30, 2012, and can be processed before Aug. 1, 2013, are subject to the current process and penalties.
A major change that won't spare head coaches and administrators is the bygone idea of "presumption of knowledge." The NCAA is instituting a new standard -- presumed responsibility -- that applies to all staff, from the equipment manager to athletic directors and presidents.
"We expect head coaches to provide practices and training and written materials that instruct their assistant coaches how to act," Oregon State president Ed Ray said. "If they've done that it can become mitigating evidence that they shouldn't be held accountable for what the assistant coach did. But head coaches have to have these things in place or the presumption will be that he or she didn't care enough to set standards. In that case, if the assistant goes rogue, then it's partly the head coach's fault and they need to be held accountable."
Ray, a former chair of the NCAA executive committee and the current chair of the working group on enforcement, explained the new multi-level violation structure allows infractions to be more appropriately categorized. In turn, penalties prescribed will better suit the violation.
He also said time to process "less complicated" violations will be cut in half, perhaps less, by expanding the Committee on Infractions to about 24 members with multiple panels.
"A primary complaint we heard from the membership was that processing major cases took too long, not only from the investigative stage but also once it was agreed that there was a major infraction - it took too long to get on the Committee on Infractions hearing docket," Ray said.