The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Committee on Infractions (Infractions Committee) hears and resolves cases involving institutional culpability for major violations of NCAA rules. Its work is among the most important done by any NCAA committee, cabinet, or council. Its decisions have substantial import for institutions and involved individuals alleged to have committed violations. Its decisions also have substantial import for other institutions looking to the committee to uphold competitive equity and to deter cheating and other behaviors injurious to student-athletes and detrimental both to individual institutional integrity and to the public perception of varsity athletics as part of the greater university. The Infractions Committee is one of the most public “faces” of the NCAA, with its work regularly tracked and reported by media outlets. What it does, and how it does it, has been the subject of numerous law review articles. It is a focus of litigation against the NCAA—by media outlets seeking its records, by coaches and other involved individuals challenging its decisions, and by boosters and others claiming injury to reputation. With such high stakes, it matters a great deal who serves on the Infractions Committee and how they conduct the committee’s business.
Since at least the time when Jerry Tarkanian sued the NCAA, there have been calls for changes to NCAA enforcement and infractions processes. The particular focus of this Article is the composition of the Infractions Committee and its consensus decision-making process. We conclude that the current committee structure and processes effectively serve the purposes and interests of NCAA member institutions and are better suited to meet all of the roles and responsibilities of the Infractions Committee than any proposed model we have seen.
The authors of this Article both recently completed nine years of service on the Infractions Committee. One (Potuto) chaired the Infractions Committee and also served on an NCAA Special Internal Review Committee that worked with a consultant whose charge was to evaluate and make recommendations regarding the enforcement and infractions processes. The other (Parkinson) was the Infractions Committee’s first coordinator of appeals and also chaired a subcommittee whose recommendations regarding committee penalties were presented to the NCAA Division I Board of Directors.
Josephine R. Potuto and Jerry R. Parkinson,
If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It: An Examination of the NCAA Division I Infractions Committee’s Composition and Decision-Making Process,
89 Neb. L. Rev.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/nlr/vol89/iss3/1