Let's get one thing out of the way first. Mark Emmert needs to resign as the head of the NCAA. I appreciate that the VP of Enforcement, Julie Roe Lach, has already lost her job and is the designated scapegoat. I also understand that not one person really lays the institutional failures on her doorstep. She just had the wrong job during a scandal. She's like the assistant coach of a struggling program that really wants to fire the head coach.
Whether the ethical failures of the NCAA's enforcement division are Emmert's "fault" is largely irrelevant. He is the leader of an organization going through a public relations debacle largely of their own making. As Truman used to say, "the buck stops here." The NCAA needs to clean house and essentially start over, and that includes getting rid of its leadership.
That said, I have not come to bury Mark Emmert. It's important to note that the independent investigation of the NCAA found that the NCAA violated no rules or bylaws. There were some ethical lapses in the investigation of Miami, but the NCAA has set aside the evidence gathered through these means. The NCAA didn't actually break any rules,which is, admittedly, a rather lame defense. Tell that to Penn State.
One of biggest criticisms of the NCAA is that it is a largely toothless organization that is completely unable to regulate big-time college athletics. It relies extensively on programs just turning themselves in for violations, and it lacks the resources to properly enforce its byzantine regulations and ever-growing rulebook. So excuse me if it seems a tad ironic that we're now criticizing the NCAA for going after renegade programs too aggressively.
What is to stop programs from spending even more money and violating even more rules? Who is honestly going to stop them? As we all know by now, the NCAA doesn't have the subpoena power. What's to prevent the big boys of college football telling the NCAA no? Why turn over anything? Why let the NCAA investigate you at all?
The NCAA only works as a regulatory body because all of the member schools buy in. The schools recognize and submit to its authority, and not only try to follow the rules, but actually turn themselves in when they commit even the most minor of violations.
What seems to be happening here is that the NCAA is losing this consent upon which all of their authority rests. If this trend continues, the NCAA can pass as many regulations it wishes, no one is going to follow them. We're not quite at this tipping point yet, but it seems we are getting closer and closer to it.
The schools which play big-time college football are increasingly seeing their interests conflict with the majority of schools which do not. I don't think this is evil or wrong, it simply is. The issues confronting a multi-million dollar enterprise like LSU athletics are radically different from those facing UL-Monroe, much less a Division III school. It's time to stop pretending one organization can oversee such disparate interests from essentially the same rulebook.
Mark Emmert needs to resign. The NCAA as we know it might be the next thing to fall. It's time to take this opportunity to seriously discuss what we want the future of big-time college football to look like. In the (possibly) coming era of super-conferences, is there a place for the MAC and the Sun Belt? With athletic budgets exploding, what should the future of recruiting look like? What about the future of the postseason?
The NCAA is broken. Do we even bother to put it back together? Or do we make something new?