Alabama Another Chapter In The Inadequate Punishment Of NCAA Violations

Kevin TrahanAnalyst IJune 13, 2009

After the recent Alabama violations and punishments, we can clearly see that the NCAA Committee on Infractions doesn’t adequately enforce its rules. From 2005-2007, the university “unknowingly” gave out free textbooks to many people.


Some athletes used their scholarships to receive free textbooks for others who were not on scholarship.


While this major violation should have resulted in a major punishment, the punishment was virtually zero. All the university had to do was vacate past wins that no longer matter from 2005-2007 and they were put on three years of probation. This punishment is extremely soft considering the university was already on probation at the time of the infractions.


This lack of punishment shows a major flaw in the NCAA and their failure to enforce their rules. We can see that probation means nothing anymore, as there was no harsh punishment enforced. The university was basically put on double probation and this just opens the door for more violations.


Schools see this lack of punishment even for a school already on probation and see that they won’t really be punished for their actions. Even for major violations, there seems to be nothing that actually hurts the school.


One of the major flaws in the system is the classification of violations. Infractions are classified two ways, either major or secondary. While punishments for major violations are soft as it is, universities are punished virtually none for secondary violations. They aren’t even seen as a big deal anymore.


According to the Birmingham News, all secondary violations are just “a little extra paper work”. They are seen as a joke as proven by newly hired Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin. He commented, “That would be another violation. I’m trying to go one week without that,” when asked about his recruiting.


There is definitely truth to Lane Kiffin’s words. He has become a violation magnet ever since joining Tennessee. According to ESPN, two of his violations have included posting the signing of a recruit on Twitter and talking with a recruit on the show Outside the Lines.


Maybe one of the problems with the weakness of the penalties is the amount of dumb rules. “[The NCAA] has a 427-page rule manual with thousands of interpretations,” said Greg Sankey, the SEC associate commissioner for compliance who receives at least one football-related secondary violation a week.


Clearly, some of these rules shouldn’t be there, (i.e. the Twitter rule), and are violated so much that the NCAA can’t keep up with them all.


If the NCAA really believes in these pointless rules, they need to prove this to the universities. If the punishments start to get harsher, the number of violations will slow down and the NCAA can catch up.


The NCAA has the power to enforce much harsher penalties than they do, but that rarely happens. Perhaps one of the largest punishments ever didn’t even come close to fitting the crime. From 2006-2007, 61 Florida State athletes were involved in a cheating scandal that included 23 football players.


In probably their harshest penalty yet, those 23 football players were suspended for the 2007 Music City Bowl and each of the 10 sports involved lost a scholarship. While this punishment was harsher than normal, it still didn’t go far enough.


The football team shouldn’t have been allowed to play in the Music City Bowl and the nine other sports should have been suspended from postseason play that year.


As we look into the future, there is no indication that the league will change its ways at all. One of the most infamous ongoing investigations involves the University of Memphis.


According to an NCAA report, former Memphis point guard may have cheated on the SAT to get into the university and Memphis may have allotted $2,260 in free travel to road games for a friend of Rose’s.


Already, the outcome looks grim. Rose can’t be punished because he is already playing in the NBA. The NCAA said that former Memphis coach John Calipari, who is now coaching at Kentucky, will not be punished.


Also, an official at Memphis told ESPN that, “the current [basketball] team will 100 percent not be penalized. That leaves the most likely scenario to be, you guessed it, vacating wins.


The NCAA needs to realize that vacating wins is an inadequate punishment for major violations and that the universities don’t care if they receive this punishment.They also need to crack down more on secondary violations and prove to the universities that they are not a joke.


Until they do, we will see an increase in the number of violations and infractions such as the ones seen at Alabama, Florida State, and Memphis will become all too common.