The four most dreaded words in the NCAA enforcement lexicon are “lack of institutional control,” and the NCAA is now looking for evidence of that, according to statements made by Auburn University Athletic Director Jay Jacobs.
You can sugarcoat and spin this all you want, but the full fisted anal exam of the Tigers’ athletics program is still in high gear. It’s not dormant, it’s not inactive and it’s not stalled. And, if the NCAA is already on the institutional control page of the playbook—without delivering the formal notice of inquiry—it doesn’t bode well for teh fambly.
Yesterday after delivering comments at the Hoover Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon, Jacobs spoke with reporters about the ongoing NCAA probe into the school’s compliance with NCAA regulations and had this to say:
"The Cam one is the one that started this entire thing," Jacobs said. "But the way the process works is once they begin to look at one thing, they look at everything around your program, whether it's a coach in another sport having too many text messages and you filed a secondary report. They look at all of that.
"They're making sure we have institutional control, and there's been nothing to indicate to me or to them otherwise. So when you say how many facets, it's basically everything that may come up in a normal operation of a year -- this year, last year or two years from now. They take a look just to make sure they're not missing anything."
Jacobs said Auburn has not complied with open-records requests from The Birmingham News out of respect for the NCAA's process. Over several months, The News has requested documents related to Newton's recruitment and all of Auburn's recent NCAA secondary violations.
"Generally, when the NCAA says it isn't over with, we don't release them," Jacobs said. "They'll even look at things we may or may not have gotten a reply from the NCAA yet just to see if there's any history there, anything that jumps out to them because they've looked into things. I would think in the near future we'll be able to share everything you need. But we're not going to do that until they tell us it's OK to do that."
Jacobs is whistling past the graveyard and so is anyone else who interprets his comments to mean that this all a standard part of the process and that everything is going to be just fine.
The NCAA does not investigate potential lack of institutional control unless it has found evidence of rules violations. If the enforcement staff truly is reviewing Auburn’s institutional control procedures, it means that they have already discovered and documented violations of league bylaws and are now in the process of determining whether these rules violations are consistent with the charge of lack of institutional control.
A review of the NCAA’s database of major infractions cases shows no cases where a school was charged for lack of institutional control without also being cited for numerous other violations that rose to the standard of “major infractions.”
People will try to spin this as a “normal operation” in which the NCAA hasn’t really found anything and is just having a quick look-see at institutional control procedures. Don’t believe them. The league’s enforcement process doesn’t work that way. There’s no reason to engage in a review of institutional control procedures unless there’s something to suggest that it’s lacking. The enforcement staff has all but set up a satellite office at the local Hilton Garden Inn, racking up Hilton Honor points and documenting that “something.” Bet on it.
The most ominous takeaway is that determining that there has been a lack of institutional control is a totally subjective judgment. You have to document violations of recruiting and impermissible benefits legislation. The call on whether those violations rise to the standard of lack of institutional control depends on the mood of the Enforcement Staff and the Committee on Infractions.
Exit question: Is this why Jacobs suddenly has “lot more respect for them today?” It probably makes sense to suck up a little bit now, doesn’t it?
UPDATE: Capstone Report has an excellent angle on Auburn President Jay Gogue’s comments in the same story linked above.
Also from the Birmingham News: “I’ve never heard anything about it other than what I read in the newspapers,” Gogue said. “I have not a clue what’s going on. I haven’t heard anything. I just see it’s a constant story.”
That begs the question. What else is Gogue in the dark about involving Auburn’s Athletic Department?
Does Gogue supervise the athletic department? Or does it supervise itself? Does it tell the president what he should know, or does it tell the president want it wants him to know?
In the context of a news story on a review of lack of institutional control, to have the President of the university express cluelessness as to the nature and progress of the investigation is at best embarrassing and at worst damning.