Last week, Jon Solomon of CBS Sports wrote about how even the chair of the Committee on Infractions was wondering about the pace of NCAA investigations:
“It may be six months before there’s another one,” [Conference USA commissioner Britton] Banowsky said. “I don’t know what to make of that. It’s interesting because we expanded the number of people on the committee because the expectation was the load was increasing. So we brought all these new people in – (new committee members) Bobby Cremins, Lloyd Carr and others – and we haven’t had any meaningful cases. We’re well trained, though.”
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby echoed those sentiments, but NCAA vice president of enforcement Jon Duncan disputed those claims:
Jonathan Duncan, the NCAA’s new head of enforcement after spending a year as interim chief, hears the criticism. But he insists that major cases have been heard within the past eight months and that the NCAA is on track to process as many cases as it has ever recorded.
“Most are resolved through other procedures that may not end up in the news for the public or members to see,” Duncan said. “There’s plenty of activity going on – as much as ever. I pay more attention to what’s in our enforcement pipeline than what the committee is working on.”
Speaking to Ferd Lewis of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Duncan added some more detail to just how active the enforcement staff is:
Currently, Duncan said, there are “over 100 cases that we are actively investigating. Not all cases are created equal. (For) some there are a lot of allegations and some there are fewer.”
“This year alone … we have submitted 58 allegations to the Committee on Infractions and that’s across 12 cases,”Duncan said. “We’re projecting at least 10 more by the end of the year. Those are just the major cases, Levels I and II.”
How can those two different views be squared? The enforcement staff may have delivered the bulk of those allegations early in the year and there has been a lull. Perhaps most are being resolved through summary disposition rather than committee hearings, as Duncan suggests. To put 22 cases into perspective, the last time the Committee on Infractions issued that many decisions in one year was 2011, when 24 cases were decided. Since then, rates have been lower: 19 in 2012, 16 in 2013.
The enforcement staff also has fewer “easy” cases now and will have even fewer as governance reform and deregulation continue. More and more sports are adopting looser recruiting rules, ending the days of a major infraction centered on counting phone calls. That should mean the shift to a smaller number of bigger, more complex investigations. And with increased standards and more quality control following the Miami scandal, enforcement might not be sending cases to the Committee on Infractions any more frequently or quicker than they had been.
The other possibility is that the changes to the Committee on Infractions worked and the committee members feel like they have a better handle on the workload. Given the immense time commitment required by COI members, it would not be surprising if easing it even a little might make it feel like they are now twiddling their thumbs waiting for cases.