Cheers to NCAA president Mark Emmert and his board of directors for remodeling the enforcement structure in major college athletics.
The long-overdue sweeping changes, announced Tuesday, will "create additional levels of infractions, hasten the investigation process and rachet up penalties for the most egregious violations."
Most importantly, coaches can no longer make the case that they "just didn't know." This is something that has been going on for years and many renowned coaches, including one from South Carolina, have been guilty of the practice.
Per its press release, the NCAA "enhanced head coach responsibility/accountability and potential consequences for head coaches who fail to direct their staffs and student athletes to uphold NCAA by-laws."
The most controversial change is that millionaire head coaches now can be penalized individually for violations committed by their assistants, unless they can prove they took preventive steps to acknowledge red flags.
If a coach changes jobs, any penalties incurred individually, such as suspensions or recruiting restrictions, would follow him to a new college.
Suspensions can now range as high as an entire season based on violations involved. If a violation occurs, the head coach is presumed responsible until proven otherwise.
In other words, guilty until proven innocent.
The enforcement structure, which takes effect Aug. 1, will have a four-tier violation hierarchy. This replaces the old two-tier system in which a violation was considered either minor or major.
Just how all that will shake down as regards to penalties remains to be seen. It would be helpful in understanding the new structure if the NCAA would go back and give examples of which tier recent violations would have represented. That may be too much to ask, but it would be a valuable road map for colleges and coaches.
The NCAA believes they also have fixed the problem of the often glacial enforcement process by approving an increase in the number of infraction committee voting members from 10 to 24. The plan is to split the full committee into smaller panels, all of which could hear cases and double the meetings to take place annually from five to 10. This should enable the NCAA to allocate more staff to the most serious cases.
Critics are already taking shots at the new plan and wonder if it is just another round of tough talk and little action.
David Rudolph, an Ohio University professor and past president of the NCAA watchdog The Drake Group, told ESPN.com he thought "there are a lot of loopholes in there when you start reading it.
"It sounds nice in theory," he said, "but until I see a big-time coach like (John) Calipari or somebody get suspended for a year, I will not believe this will do anything."
Let's hope Mr. Rudolph is wrong.