A chill from the north has settled over Alabama, and I don’t mean the cold snap that dropped temperatures into the 30s this week.This chill is blowing in from Indianapolis, where the NCAA mulls reviving television sanctions, giving closer consideration to postseason bans, widening scholarship cuts and levying fines.
Especially chilling is talk of making postseason bans a “presumptive” penalty in cases involving repeat violators. If that didn’t send a chill in Tuscaloosa, then it should have. The NCAA says potential major violations occurred in Alabama’s textbook case, which fell in the five-year repeat violator window dating back to the Albert Means case.
Jacksonville State ? awaiting possible penalties because its football program is expected to fall under the minimum Academic Progress Report number for the third consecutive year ? should also feel it.
Josephine Potuto, a Nebraska law professor and the immediate past chairman of the infractions committee, told USA Today that the NCAA must get more aggressive.
“The committee feels that, over the years, the penalties really have gotten out of synch with the magnitude of violations,” she said in a story published Oct. 29. “Increasingly, there were people on campus saying, ‘There’s no teeth here. Did they lose any scholarships? Were they taken out of the postseason? Were wins vacated? And if not, it couldn’t have been a big case.’”
Potuto made recommendations to the Division I Board of Directors on Oct. 31, and the board has been seeking member feedback since then:
-The first TV bans in Division I since 1996, and the bans would extend to “all modes of video transmission.”
-More scholarship cuts. Now limited to financial-aid violations, they would become “the norm” in serious cases.
-Fines, which the committee would assess sparingly but in more sports. They currently affect only basketball and programs forced to return NCAA tournament shares.
-And more postseason bans, which would become “presumptive” in cases involving academic fraud and repeat violations.
Alabama just made its fourth appearance before the infractions committee in 14 years.
The 2002 Means case involved violations so serious that one NCAA official said Alabama was “staring down the barrel” of the death penalty in 2002. The textbook scandal dates back to the 2005-06 school year.
Alabama’s response to the NCAA said that no coaches, employees or representatives were involved in the violations. The school said it gained no competitive edge and took corrective measures, including suspending athletes and changing book distribution policies.
Potuto did not specifically mention APR cases in the proposed crackdown, but the NCAA clearly wants members to feel the bite as well as fear the bark.
JSU officials cite improved grades and the promotion of an assistant coach with academic duties as good faith efforts to improve the program’s performance.
Will the NCAA listen? We’ll find out in the coming weeks.