The NCAA Division I Board of Directors has adopted a new rules enforcement structure that will hold coaches more accountable for violations within their programs.  The new rule also will impose longer postseason bans, of two to four years, and increased fines for schools that continue to violate NCAA rules and regulations. The new structure becomes effective August 1, 2013.

Under the new enforcement structure, the “I just didn’t know” defense will be unavailable to coaches.  They will be presumed responsible for the actions within their program, until it is proven otherwise. Coaches could face suspensions of up to one year for violations committed by the actions of their staffs.

“We expect head coaches to provide practices and training and written materials that instruct their assistant coaches how to act,” NCAA executive committee chairman Ed Ray, the President of Oregon State University stated.

“If they’ve done that it can become mitigating evidence that they shouldn’t be held accountable for what the assistant coach did. But head coaches have to have these things in place or the presumption will be that he or she didn’t care enough to set standards,” Ray warned.

The new rules include the complete restructuring of the NCAA enforcement process. New measures include expansion of the NCAA’s penalty structure from two tiers to four, creation of new penalty guidelines and expediting the litigation process by expanding the Division I Committee on Infractions. The Committee will go from 10 voting members to as many as 24. The 24-person group can be divided into smaller panels to review infractions cases on a more expedited basis.

The Board’s action follows a year-long process during which a 13-member group of university presidents, athletic directors and commissioners considered the nationwide demand for a more effective enforcement structure to protect the integrity of college athletics. “We have sought all along to remove the ‘risk-reward’ analysis that has tempted people--often because of the financial pressures to win at all costs--to break the rules in the hopes that either they won’t be caught or that the consequences won’t be very harsh if they do get caught,” NCAA President Mark Emmert stated.

The new enforcement structure includes the following four-tier “violation hierarchy”:

Level I-Severe Breach of Conduct--Includes violations that seriously undermine the integrity of the NCAA college model (i.e., any violation that provides or is intended to provide a substantial or extensive recruiting, competitive or other advantage, or a substantial or extensive impermissible benefit).

Level II-Significant Breaches of Conduct-Includes violations that provide or are intended to provide more than a minimal but less than a substantial or extensive recruiting, competitive or other advantage, also includes more than a minimal but less than a substantial or extensive impermissible benefit.

Level III-Breaches of Conduct--Violations that are isolated or limited in nature, provide no more than a minimal recruiting, competitive or other advantage, and do not include more than a minimal impermissible benefit. Multiple Level IV violations collectively may be considered a breach of conduct.

Level IV-Incidental Issues --Minor infractions that are inadvertent and isolated, technical in nature and result in a negligible, if any, competitive advantage. Such infractions generally will not affect eligibility for intercollegiate athletics.

Under the old two-tier system, a violation was considered either minor or major.

Potential application of the new rules for the period up to August 1, 2013, will depend on the date of the alleged violation and the date when the case is processed.