The NCAA and Auditing of Processes vs. Enforcement of Rules

Posted on June 6, 2013 | in Defects, Respect For People, Safety, Sports, Standardized Work | by
Mark Emmert NCAA

NCAA President Mark Emmert (Michael Conroy/Associated Press)

Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports lays out the dire situation in the NCAA enforcement division.

The NCAA enforcement division – the most scrutinized, controversial and perhaps vital part of the entire organization – is in crisis mode. It is short-handed. It is suffering from an alarming brain drain and morale deficit. It has been beaten into a corner by the backfired Miami football investigation and subsequent fallout.

The overarching purpose of the NCAA’s existence is to facilitate a collective set of rules and standards for schools and athletic teams to compete intercollegiately. It goes beyond simple rules, though. The NCAA is the governing body for intercollegiate athletics in determining championships in sports, and it does this by standardizing athletic seasons and schedules and facilitating championship structures.

However, if your school wants to play and compete for those coveted championships, it has to follow specific guidelines in the interest of equality and fairness. This means no skirting the rules to get a leg up, no breaking of rules, no cheating. Basic baselines for student-athletes like qualifications to attend college and maintaining baseline GPA in college classes. Baselines for schools and teams such as restrictions on practices, scholarships, roster sizes, schedules, outside contact with boosters and financiers.

There are a lot of schools – 120 just in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) – under the NCAA umbrella. So what are some of the problems?

It has lost its leader in (former NCAA Vice President of Enforcement Julie Roe) Lach, who was hand-picked by (NCAA President Mark) Emmert to succeed David Price and continue leading the NCAA into a new era of enforcement.


Eight veterans lost in less than two years, most of them boots-on-the-ground investigators. And everyone expects more to come, as morale plummets and a siege mentality takes hold in Indianapolis.

-snip again-

Tuesday, it announced that enforcement was seeking to make five hires – a significant number of openings in a department that normally has a staffing of 60.

High turnover with already low staffing numbers to cover oodles of schools. The temptation for schools to cheat is higher than ever, because the money being chased is higher than ever and the available enforcement eyes are starting to dwindle.

In organizations that properly apply Lean thinking as an operational philosophy, there is a difference between basic auditing and rule enforcement. Processes and results should be audited for adherence to best practices (and questions should be asked when best practices are not followed, which isn’t always a bad thing), but basic employment and participation rules (especially those relevant to safety and conduct) should be governed via audit and enforced.

Processes can be nebulous, because improvement is nebulous. Rules should be relatively binary – if you violate this rule, this is the penalty (save for special circumstances, I suppose).

However, the NCAA’s set of rules and standards is being shown to be not binary, behind in the times/not keeping up with technology, and underenforced because the enforcers are underequipped to handle the workload.

Organizations demonstrate an issue’s importance by providing adequate resources and attention to it. The NCAA and Mark Emmert are doing neither to suggest that adherence to the NCAA’s guidelines is a priority.

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2 Responses to “The NCAA and Auditing of Processes vs. Enforcement of Rules”

  1. John Hunter says:

    I agree that the current process is not working. I am not totally sure the answer is to make things more binary however. One of the problems with legalistic thinking is it attempts to make everything black or white. There is a great deal of grey.

    I think we may benefit from accepting that bad behavior is grey and when we see lots of dark grey you get punished a lot.

    When we see lots of white and this tiny bit of black where two silly violations are found we treat that as what it is – a system that is largely working but a couple special causes need to be fixed up.

    A problem with this is many people want to get away with doing bad stuff that technically can maybe be seen as possibly not absolutely prohibited. Then they want to be able to have ignored that they are largely running a dark grey to black system when they can be shown to have clearly violated specific rules.

    This attitude is a horrible example that our educational institutions are giving students. Talking about how students should be ethical when they act while the schools are being unethical and trying to get away with ever single thing they can without tripping over into provable violations.

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