On Tuesday, the NCAA outlined a revamped infraction enforcement program in a press release. The purpose of the program is to expedite the sanctioning process and create a more flexible system so that the punishment can better suit the infraction.
The release details a four-tiered "violation structure" that ranges from "incidental infractions" which create little to no competitive advantage for the violators, to "severe breach of conduct" which seriously undermine the integrity of the NCAA collegiate model. This model replaced the two-tiered "major" or "minor" violation model that has been used until the present.
Perhaps the most striking change is that head coaches will be held duly responsible for the violations of their subordinates, with penalties up to and including a year-long suspension. This places the burden on coaches to monitor and control the acts of their assistants, because they can no longer simply try and show that they didn't know the infractions were occurring.
This change is in line with many of the changes in agency law happening around the country. In Illinois, a employer can be held liable for even the "intentional and criminal acts of its employees", when the act was committed “in the course of employment and in furtherance of the business of his/her employer.” Employers are off the hook only where the act was committed solely for the employee’s benefit, or where the act was so outrageous as to not reasonably be contemplated as part of the employee’s job.
Big-time money making sports programs and academic universities have little in common. The NCAA has a nearly impossible undertaking in trying to reconcile these two different worlds and maintain some sort of sense of amateurism and fair play. By giving themselves more flexibility and creating more accountability among the head coaches, the NCAA has taken a positive step towards achieving their goals of providing swift and effective punishments for violators.
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