In a July 25, 2010, piece on UVU Review, “NCAA cracking down”, Jonathan Boldt discusses the recent NCAA enforcement investigations of Louisiana State University, University of Alabama, University of North Carolina, Ohio State University, Auburn University, University of Oregon, Ohio State University, Georgia Tech and the University of Southern California. Boldt opines the “line that defines NCAA compliance has been blurred and skirted around ever since winning has taken precedence” and “there have still been those that choose to cheat and risk the penalties that may come”. Boldt believes “this risk is taken in large part due to the vast amounts of money that come with a winning, high-profile team”. However, the author warns “the full extent of what these teams have been doing may never been known, but one thing is for certain: the NCAA has appeared to have woken up. Cheaters beware”.
The Michael L. Buckner Law Firm concurs with Boldt’s theory on the risk factor in college sports, but offers two factors that are spurring the increase in high-profile NCAA enforcement cases:
1. Change in leadership and focus. New NCAA vice-president for enforcement Julie Roe Lach has brought a renewed focus to the enforcement staff. Lach is leading a re-structuring of the enforcement staff. The intent is to make the enforcement staff more proactive (and not reactive—as it has been known in the past), efficient and effective. The Buckner Law Firm anticipates the NCAA enforcement staff to become more aggressive: in obtaining information on a variety of subjects before violations are reported or discovered (“intelligence gathering”); and with pursuing leads when allegations are made against athletics programs. The Buckner Law Firm also believes Lach will work to process enforcement cases quicker.
2. 24-hour news cycle. The proliferation of blogs, the 24-7 news cycle and the rise of non-traditional sports media has contributed to the increase in high-profile enforcement cases. For example, the USC enforcement case was initiated by a report by Yahoo! Sports. Bloggers also feed information to the public on alleged transgressions. Further, traditional media is forced to gather enormous amounts of interesting stories (or angles on existing stories) to feed the huge beast that is the 24-hour news cycle.
The NCAA is more aware, but the underlying infractions have always been there.