NCAA Enforcement Remains Scrutinized Under Leadership Of Mark Emmert
The NCAA committee on infractions this week began its case against the Univ. of Miami and regardless of the results, the case "offers a glimpse into the troubled tenure" of NCAA President Mark Emmert, who has "struggled to pass ambitious reforms since taking over in October 2010," according to Thamel & Wolff of SI. It reveals "chronic dysfunction in the enforcement division" and it exemplifies one of two "clear ways enforcement work has differed under Emmert from his predecessors." Gone are the days of NCAA Founder Walter Byers "hanging up the phone after simply telling an inquiring school that if it had done nothing wrong, it had nothing to fear from an investigation." There is "no evidence that deals are being made, but several ex-enforcement staffers confirm that." Former NCAA enforcement rep Rich Johanningmeier said, "You were more aware that there was an interest from the (NCAA) president's office in the cases than in the past." There also has been "more pressure to hurry cases since Emmert's No. 2, Jim Isch, began judging all NCAA departments by what he calls 'business performance metrics.'" A staffer upon opening an investigation must "assign it one of four codes for difficulty, and even the most daunting case is expected to take no more than 12 months to resolve." Whether the NCAA's "current straits are the result of conspiracy or favoritism, or simply mismanagement or incompetence, the organization has never been so disrespected in so many quarters." Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said, I'm not sure enforcement can survive another 10 years the way it's structured now." Thamel & Wolff note few of these critics "spare the man at the top," as Emmert's "knack for commenting on ongoing cases has left investigators exasperated." Emmert now takes to podiums "in a defensive posture," and he does so "because the great achievement on his watch, an overhaul of the enforcement, has left that department compromised" (SI, 6/17 issue).
CRISIS MANAGEMENT: SI.com's Pete Thamel in an accompanying online piece reported morale "is at an all-time low among the enforcement staff as several respected veterans ...have left for college compliance positions since April." Managing Dir for Enforcement, Development & Investigators Rachel Newman-Baker left the NCAA earlier this week to join the Univ. of Kentucky as Senior Associate AD/Compliance. She is the "highest-ranking member of the department to leave since" VP/Enforcement Julie Roe Lach was "fired in February in the wake of missteps in the Miami investigation." An ex-NCAA staffer said, "With Rachel gone, there's really only two investigators (Angie Cretors and LuAnn Humphrey) left with experience in major football and basketball cases." NCAA interim Dir of Enforcement Jonathan Duncan last week said, "It's been a tough time for the enforcement staff" (SI.com, 6/12). CBSSPORTS.com's Dennis Dodd noted four key NCAA employees who worked the Miami case "are gone." Three of them "have been fired, one retired." Sources said that it all "suggests a crisis in the enforcement department, certainly a lack of depth and definitely ... a morale problem." Newman-Baker was "at least the eighth person in enforcement over the past 18 months to leave, retired or be fired." Newman-Baker, who had been at the NCAA for 12 years, was like Roe Lach in that she was "one of those glue folks" (CBSSPORTS.com, 6/12). USA TODAY's Dan Wolken writes the "sudden drain of institutional knowledge has left many high-ranking college athletics officials concerned not just about whether the NCAA has enough manpower left to enforce rules, but also whether those investigating the cases have enough experience to do the job credibly and fairly." Ohio State Senior Associate AD Heather Lyke Catalano: "There is a concern. You want to have confidence in the organization." One unnamed AD said, "Just look at who's leaving. It's all their best people. I like Jon Duncan, but he can't fix it overnight" (USA TODAY, 6/14).