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OU Coach Likely Gets Last Break From NCAA

Oklahoma’s Jay Norvell had one of the Sooners’ 35 secondary violations over the last year (April 2012 – April 2013). But his violation should have carried one of the stiffest penalties, a coaching suspension. Lucky for him, Oklahoma took advantage of the Committee on Infractions appeal for Norvell’s violation and the suspension was dropped from the penalties:

The school filed a 30-page appeal, dated Oct. 23, 2012, which provided several items of evidence, including news articles citing other schools with similar violations and the actions taken against them by the NCAA.

But coaches who violate the same rule in the future will not be in the same point. In addition to impermissible tweets that violated the NCAA’s recruiting publicity rules, the content of Norvell’s tweets violated the NCAA’s rule limiting written scholarship offers to August 1 before a prospect’s senior year in high school or later. That rule has been singled out by the Enforcement Working Group, Committee on Infractions, and Board of Directors for stiffer penalties since it makes a significant impact in the recruiting process.

So while Oklahoma was able to point to precedent and get Norvell’s suspension dropped, coaches in the future will likely not have this argument at their disposal. On August 1, 2013, the new enforcement program kicks in with enhanced penalties for some secondary violations, including early written scholarship offers. Citing cases from before that date will not be as persuasive.

Had Norvell committed the same violation after 8/1/2013, his suspension might be the least of Oklahoma’s problems. The combination of the increased penalties for this violation and stronger head coach responsibility rules means OU head coach Bob Stoops might be suspended as well. Not only would the arguments to reduce the penalty not be there, OU’s resources and focus might have been on rebutting the presumption of Stoops’s responsibility for the violation rather than reducing the penalty for an assistant coach.

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