The NCAA's Enforcement Division Is A Mess, And That's A Good ThingS

This week's Sports Illustrated (print edition) includes a lengthy rundown of the bureaucratic troubles plaguing the NCAA's enforcement division. SI's take: That the ineptitude created by these troubles is preventing the NCAA from properly administering its rulebook. SI treats this as a problem, as something we all ought to lament. But isn't it good news?

SI's story picks up where Yahoo! left off with Nevin Shapiro, the shady former Miami Hurricanes booster who owned up to being a shady former Miami Hurricanes booster after he went bankrupt and was convicted for his role in a high-end Ponzi scheme. Shapiro now says he frequently bet on Miami football games using inside information he got from players, coaches, and athletic department employees. He even provided SI with financial documents that show how he used to move large sums of money into an account belonging to a guy who ran a gambling website.

The NCAA, naturally, screwed up its investigation of the Miami case by contracting with Shapiro's bankruptcy lawyer to get her to depose two uncooperative witnesses, though its committee on infractions is supposed to make a decision on whether to punish Miami this week. SI uses Shapiro's surprise at the NCAA's incompetence to frame how fractured the enforcement division has become in recent years under president Mark Emmert.

Here's what we learn:

1. The NCAA now has performance metrics (codes for difficulty, a 12-month time limit with a justification required for exceeding that limit) in place to try to expedite its handling of cases.

2. Emmert has been more involved than past NCAA presidents in dealing directly with college presidents, and his defensiveness over criticism of the NCAA has hurt staff morale.

3. The NCAA's new enforcement model, instituted two years ago, places additional personnel on the same investigation. Staffers who talked to SI say this has created less efficiency.

4. Enforcement staffers are upset over two other prominent cases: The NCAA's abandonment of its inquiry into the recruitment of UCLA's Shabazz Muhammad, and the harsh penalties placed on Penn State without any NCAA investigation.

SI quotes an unnamed former enforcement employee to say what this is all supposed to mean: "The time is ripe to cheat. There is no policing going on." To which we say: Great! The NCAA's rules only exist to perpetuate the lie of student-athlete "amateurism." If the NCAA recognized its lie as a lie, there would be no need for Nevin Shapiros, and no "cheating." Instead, the NCAA "enforces" its rules to justify its own existence, to show that it's doing something about the problems its rules support. So the structure is starting to crumble from within? So what?

Photo credit: Associated Press