… but the SEC doesn’t tell us what procedures have been changed.
It’s Ok. I think I’ve got it figured out.
In a story published in today’s Birmingham News, Jon Solomon relates a conversation he had with Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive. Apparently, the badly bungled process that let Cam Newton remain eligible at Auburn despite a violation of the SEC’s own eligibility bylaws has led to a tweaking of the process by which the conference communicates allegations of wrongdoing to the NCAA.
Mississippi State University first reported pay-for-play allegations in January 2010. The SEC claimed that it requested additional information, information that it says was not provided until July 2010.
In the ESPN report that broke the story last November, Cam Newton’s father Cecil said that the NCAA requested financial records from him sometime in early October, indicating that neither the SEC nor Mississippi State had contacted the league until many months had passed and the college football season was well under way.
That left a months-long window open, allowing key players in the scandal to cover their tracks, destroy evidence, get their stories straight and let the trail go cold.
Key paragraphs in Solomon’s story:
"We've reached an accommodation as to the kinds of issues they (the NCAA) have had in mind, and what they want to know, when they want to know," Slive said, without elaborating on details. "Those are relatively simple things for us to accommodate. There may be certain issues that they want to know about earlier than others. We have no problem reaching that accommodation."
Speaking in early May, NCAA Director of Enforcement Julie Roe Lach said she has had positive talks with Slive and SEC Associate Commissioner Greg Sankey about informing the NCAA of accusations as early as possible.
"I believe they're going to try and deal with the information in terms of what's the best way to fully vet this," Roe Lach said. "Because we're the trained experts on how to conduct investigations, it makes sense for us to get involved on the front end as opposed to having to come in on the back end and possibly replow ground."
Read between the lines here, sports fans. The NCAA was not happy with the inertia demonstrated by the SEC front office in the Newton situation. The SEC blew it. They used a flawed reporting process that delayed key information from being shared for months. They ignored two of their own bylaws regarding ethics and eligibility and allowed a football player to make a complete mockery out of the league and the principles of amateurism. In the process, they caused Roe Lach and her team of investigators to have to go back and “replow ground,” soil that is still being turned to this day.
While the NCAA doesn’t have the power to compel the conference to change procedures, it looks like some folks got a stern talking-to and adjustments are being made. The question is, what’s being adjusted? Is the NCAA to be immediately notified of credible allegations of rule-breaking? Does the conference return to its pre-Slive days of conducting investigations on its own, or does it still rely on the member schools?
More importantly, are these changes to be codified in a new or amended bylaw, so that fans can examine them? Or, do we have to figure it out ourselves?