NCAA presidents, school leaders to discuss policy

By Michael Marot

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Aug. 8 2011 12:00 a.m. MDT

FILE - This March 13, 2011, file photo shows NCAA President Mark Emmert speaking at a news conference at the men's Final Four, in Houston. Emmert wants to make big changes, and he's asking schools to help. Emmert is to spend Tuesday and Wednesday, Aug. 9-10, 2011, meeting with more than five dozen university presidents and school administrators about the future of the NCAA.

David J. Phillip, File, Associated Press

Mark Emmert is tired of tweaking the NCAA rulebook.

He wants an overhaul.

More than 60 university presidents and administrators are scheduled to meet with Emmert on Tuesday and Wednesday in Indianapolis, a debate that could include everything from deregulation to scholarship funding to keeping integrity in college sports.

"He thinks it's time to look at what we're doing at a mega-level, and if where we are is where we want to be and should be," said former NCAA infractions committee chairwoman Josephine Potuto, the faculty rep at Nebraska since 1997. "He wants to know where Division I is and where it's headed."

Critics contend it's about time because under the current format, the NCAA cannot keep up with all the scandals tainting college sports.

Connecticut was penalized in February for recruiting violations in its men's basketball program, but the punishment did not derail the Huskies run to a third national title.

In December, Auburn's football program came under scrutiny after Cam Newton's father was found to be involved in a pay-for-play recruiting scheme. The NCAA did not punish Newton, ruling he was unaware of his father's efforts. Newton went on to win the Heisman Trophy and led Auburn to the national title.

That's just the start.

In June, Southern California was stripped of its 2004 national championship by the Bowl Championship Series for NCAA infractions that also forced Reggie Bush to give back his Heisman Trophy.

Tennessee officials are still awaiting an NCAA decision on a case accusing former football coach Lane Kiffin and men's basketball coach Bruce Pearl of recruiting violations. The school is also accused of failing to create an atmosphere of compliance.

Ohio State officials are scheduled to appear in front of the infractions committee Friday. The case involves football players who allegedly received cash and tattoos for autographs, championship rings and equipment. Former coach Jim Tressel also is accused of failing to notify school officials after learning of the possible infractions. Tressel resigned in May, but the players were allowed to play in last season's bowl game and will be suspended this fall. Ohio State President Gordon Gee is also expected to attend the presidential retreat.

Two weeks ago, North Carolina fired football coach Butch Davis amid an NCAA investigation into allegations of improper benefits provided to players and academic misconduct, following several suspensions of players who had contact with agents.

Even those outside the purview of the NCAA have gotten caught up in scandal.

The BCS fined the Fiesta Bowl $1 million and considered dropping the game from its series after an internal investigation uncovered apparently illegal campaign contributions by staff and lavish spending by former bowl CEO and president John Junker on parties and a night at a strip club.

So when Emmert sent out invitations to this week's meeting, he made it clear that this wasn't going to be just a typical round table discussion.

"A few new tweaks of the rules won't get the job done," he said in a statement.

Apparently, he's not alone.

Last week, the NCAA's leadership council agreed to come up with a men's basketball proposal that would deregulate electronic communications, including text messages. It would also allow unlimited communication beginning Aug. 1 with recruits entering their junior years. A formal proposal could be finalized by October.

Potuto thinks this debate is long overdue.

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