NCAA president Mark Emmert keeps focus on rulebook

GRAPEVINE, Texas — Calling some NCAA rules “scofflaws,” NCAA President Mark Emmert on Thursday laid out plans to rewrite and simplify its often criticized, dense rule book while continuing to hold its membership accountable to core principles.

“Some of the rules are more ignored and laughed at than followed,” Emmert said during his state of the association speech at the NCAA Convention in suburban Dallas.

Among the 27 proposals that the board of directors will vote on Saturday will be plans for sweeping rule changes that would slim down the NCAA rule book. At the same time, the NCAA plans to hold rulebreakers accountable with penalties harsh enough to dissuade cheating.

Regarding the organization’s plan to hold coaches specifically responsible for violations that occur in their programs if the NCAA or the infractions committee concludes that they should have had knowledge of the misconduct, Emmert said during a news conference that there needs to be more clarity on what exactly coaches will be responsible for knowing.

“We’re going to have to work harder on coming up with definitions on what that really means,” Emmert said. “We’ve already been asked, does that mean just the people who work under your purview, your staff that works for you? Or does that means everybody in the university? At some point you have to put realistic boundaries on what you can and can’t be expected to have knowledge of.”

The new rules would take effect Aug. 1.

During his third state of the association address as NCAA president, Emmert did not discuss the Penn State child sex-abuse case, which was unprecedented in its scope and nature. This July, the NCAA made the controversial move in circumventing traditional investigative protocol in denying Penn State an infractions hearing and handing down some of the harshest penalties ever imposed by the association.

As part of those sanctions, Penn State owes the NCAA $60 million. Emmert said Thursday the NCAA has no immediate plans for the $12 million already paid to it under a consent agreement with Penn State.

“The NCAA will never see that money,” Emmert said. “It will never decide where that money goes. It will have nothing to do with the distribution of the money. But a group of presidents and others are setting up the framework by which all that will happen. As they set that up and get it all in place, then indeed that group can make a decision to dispense money.”

Emmert also has been a proponent of student-athletes receiving stipends of up to $2,000 for the full cost of attendance. The board of directors approved the proposal in October 2011, but it was put on hold after enough schools signed an override petition.

When the proposal is revisited in April, Emmert said, there will be some consideration of a need-based model for the stipend so “students who have need of those resources will be receiving them, and those that don’t don’t.”

Emmert also said the model needs to address issues of Title IX compliance and equity, that it needs to be used relatively flexibly for partial scholarship, and that it needs to be administered in a way that is “relatively straightforward, transparent and easy.”

Also of note, the NCAA is losing one of its most venerable employees in vice president Wally Renfro, who plans to retire after working for the association for 40 years. Emmert said Donald Remy, the NCAA’s executive vice president and general counsel, will move into Renfro’s office to shore up the executive staff.

“He’s lived it,” Emmert said of Renfro. “He brings to it experiences virtually nobody else alive has. So I can put somebody else in that box, but they don’t bring the skill, that knowledge and those experiences … He’s irreplaceable.”


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