It's going to be a big month for the NCAA's enforcement division. In a little over a week, the University of Michigan is scheduled to report and announce self-imposed sanctions stemming from the alleged overages in Summer workouts. Shortly there after, the NCAA is also set to announce whatever penalties will be levied against the University of Southern California resulting from their Reggie Bush investigation. While the two events bare no resemblance to one another (other than the whole, "NCAA Investigation" aspect), the pending sanctions on USC, which we have to assume are coming, will affect how the NCAA deals with Michigan.
As everyone is well aware, the Committee on Infractions can bring the pain when they want to. Look no further than the penalties assessed to the Michigan Baskteball program after the Ed Martin Scandal or the near-death experience that Alabama had in 2002. How close was Alabama to the DP? Really, really close:
[NCAA COI Committee Chair] Tom Yeager said that Alabama was "absolutely staring down the barrel of a gun (death penalty)" but the committee settled on a two-year bowl ban and the loss of 21 scholarships over three years.
What's worse, you might recall that Alabama had a recent run in with NCAA over a text book loaning program that its students (not just student athletes) could participate in. At one poin the Committee found that Alabam student sthletes had received over $40,000 in impermissible beneifts from the University as a result of the program. The general response was, "hur hur" but unless you were a Tide fan you didn't dig any further.
It turns out the NCAA didn't dig much further either. Despite the fact that Alabama discovered and reported the violations on it's own and cooperated fully with the SEC and NCAA to investigate the violations, the NCAA still stripped the Tide of wins and lumped them into the repeat offender pile without justification.
So, it's with some trepidation that I await the NCAA's response to USC's alleged infractions. As our friends at Bruins Nation point out, its not just the Reggie Bush infractions that are under the microscope. And it's not just the volume of infractions that would seems to indicate a MUCH heavier hand toward USC than Michigan, but the steps taken toward remediation. USC hasn't announced any self-imposed sanctions. Michigan apparently will.
But self reporting didn't do 'Bama any good in terms of receiving a sanction of some kind. Granted forfieting wins is "punishment," but given the last two years it's not like the Wolverines are giving up a whole lot. So, you have to assume, if the COI wants to make a statement they'll start taking scholarships. As MGoBlog's interview with The Compliance Guy points out, those sanctions could be:
A reduction in countable coaches (one coach will have to be reassigned to a noncoaching position);
A reduction in practice with a shorter spring season in 2011 and/or reduced hour limits;
Possibly recruiting restrictions, including limiting the number of coaches off-campus at any one time;
Possibly a reduction of around three scholarships for a year or two;
3-4 years probation (longer due to repeat violator status)
The thing that conserns me is that Michigan's been in the position of cooperating with the NCAA before on an investigation. It didn't turn out too well. Now Michigan's in the position of being singled out for a countable hour issue that totaled less than a dozen total hours of practice that nearly every coach in the country admits their program would be in violation of too. Alabama self-reported, self-investigated, and self-sanctioned and still got hit for a universal text-book exchange program.
After years of being called incompetent for their protracted investigation of Reggie Bush, the Committee is finally ready to hand out sanctions. Let's just hope they get all that frustration out of their system before they start dishing out "justice" on us.