Daily Compliance item- 1.20.17- Current Event

Head of NCAA enforcement sensitive to concerns that cases take too long


NASHVILLE — Jon Duncan, who heads the NCAA’s enforcement division, defended the work his staff has done recently to decrease the length of infractions cases in spite of significant public criticism, including recently from ACC commissioner John Swofford over the pending North Carolina case. Also this week, a member of the Mississippi state legislature proposed a bill that would force the NCAA to complete investigations within nine months, a response to the ongoing, years-long inquiry of the Ole Miss football program.

While Duncan declined to respond specifically to the Mississippi legislative proposal and can’t talk about ongoing cases, he said the NCAA is sensitive to concerns about how long cases take from start to finish and that changes he’s helped implement since taking over the department in early 2013 have “moved the needle not by days or weeks but by months,” said Duncan, who spoke to USA TODAY Sports at the NCAA’s annual convention.

Some of the difficulty in speeding up cases, Duncan said, is due to safeguards that were legislated into the processing phase, where involved parties are allowed time to respond to allegations against them. But there’s no doubt many of the NCAA’s high-profile cases have taken a long time to resolve, leaving a years-long cloud over programs even before the actual penalties were assessed.

“I’m totally tracking on the concerns that cases take too long,” Duncan said. “I absolutely understand that. We’ve worked very hard over the last several years to prioritize timely disposition of cases. I’m proud of that. There are still some cases, many of them high-profile, that go longer than that and that’s unfortunate. But we are working to reduce the duration and we’re being effective at that, without sacrificing quality, accuracy and the collaboration that we enjoy.”

The NCAA has long wrestled with how to speed up the process for schools that must appear in front of the Committee on Infractions, but the uniqueness of each case and the challenges of investigating without subpoena power makes it difficult to put every situation into the same box. Some cases are, quite simply, bigger than others and take longer to resolve.

Duncan, however, said the perception is sometimes skewed because it doesn’t take into account how many issues his division handles without any publicity.

“What most of the membership doesn’t know about are the cases that we open, investigate, collaborate with the institution and ultimately close down without bringing formal allegations,” Duncan said. “Nobody knows about those cases except for us and the member institution involved and it’s not unusual for those to be opened, investigated, closed down in a matter of days or weeks. Nobody’s tracking on those because the world doesn’t know about them and they’re confidential, so many are judging the timeliness of cases by a very small slice of our overall workload.”

This article was selected for educational purposes only.

Jennifer M. Condaras
Deputy Commissioner, NCAA Relations & Administration
Colonial Athletic Association

The opinions expressed in the Daily Compliance Item are the author’s and the author’s alone, and are not endorsed by The COLONIAL ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION or JumpForward. The Daily Compliance Item is not a substitute for a compliance office, case specific research, or the NCAA Bylaws. Do some homework, ask around, and get it right.

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