The NCAA took the unusual step on Thursday of giving insight into the infractions process in the flurry of cases tied to the federal basketball investigation.
Most notably, the NCAA said in a statement that “at least six Division I men’s basketball programs will receive NCAA notice of allegations within the coming months.” The statement confirmed the comments of one of its executives earlier this week. The NCAA also confirmed that there are additional schools targeted past those six, saying that “likely additional schools” will be added.
The NCAA added in the Thursday statement: “Colleges and universities have a responsibility to run their athletics programs within NCAA rules. Our membership expects us to hold accountable those who fail to do so.”
The announcement of the upcoming notices of allegations underscores the feeling around college basketball that the NCAA needs some type of action in the wake of the federal basketball cases that resulted in both felony guilty pleas and felony jury findings for multiple assistant coaches and people affiliated with the sport. The news comes amid a backdrop where many college coaches remain skeptical of the NCAA’s ability – or willingness – to severely punish those schools and coaches who’ve been highlighted in the cases.
The NCAA is also confronted with a grim optics issue. The four assistant coaches who were arrested in this case and have pled guilty are African-American. A majority of the head coaches tied to the scandal are Caucasian and still working. (Louisville’s Rick Pitino is the only head coach who has been fired in the wake of the scandal.)
The comments on Wednesday by NCAA vice president for regulatory affairs Stan Wilcox to CBS Sports set off another round of speculation on which schools will be implicated immediately. The timing of which schools go first likely has more to do with the order in which their case cleared through the federal court system, as opposed to the severity of the case.
A Yahoo Sports analysis of the federal court cases revealed that there’s somewhere around a dozen schools that could expect to be implicated by the NCAA. There’s also the issue of how the NCAA will handle the cases, as there’s an expectation that they could use the head coach control rule to punish coaches who had assistant coaches implicated in the schemes.
Those expected to be in the crosshairs and face the most significant penalties include: Louisville, North Carolina State, Kansas, Arizona, LSU, USC, Oklahoma State, South Carolina and Auburn. TCU, Creighton and Clemson all also had assistant coaches implicated in the scandal and could face sanctions.
The NCAA’s announcement about the six expected upcoming notices of allegations is a rare bit of transparency from the enforcement department, which typically keeps its actions quiet.
The cases are believed to be the widest in scope in the history of the organization. The NCAA had been limited in how it investigates the cases, as it didn’t want to interfere with the federal investigation.
NCAA enforcement director Jon Duncan told Yahoo Sports earlier this year in regards to the timing of the cases: "We want thoughtful deliberation, investigative decisions, charging decisions. So we need to be mindful of both: the interest of the membership and speedy resolutions of infractions. I feel strongly about that and fairness to those people who are involved."
They’re being tracked closely by coaches. Notre Dame’s Mike Brey told Yahoo this winter: "We must get it right. We all just feel that something has to happen this time. We've got to flush it all out or we're going to lose credibility."
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