INDIANAPOLIS — Rule-breakers are about to find out just how tough the NCAA can be.
After debating changes for more than a year, the board of directors is poised to vote today on an enforcement proposal that would streamline the infractions process, impose harsher sanctions on violators and expand the current two-tiered penalty structure to four.
The details were first released in August when the board endorsed a proposal that has remained essentially unchanged.
NCAA President Mark Emmert has been pushing for the reforms since a spate of scandals rocked college sports last year. At a presidential retreat in August 2011, Emmert called on school officials to help assure coaches and athletic departments would no longer make ethical decisions based on a risk-reward analysis.
Today's vote is the next step.
"I'm extremely pleased with the speed with which we've been able to make progress," Emmert told The Associated Press before the meeting. "We made our first set of reforms around academic expectations and standards in pretty much record time. We will vote (today) on the second big piece."
If the proposal is approved today, as expected, the changes would be sweeping.
Schools and coaches would not only have to contend with an infractions hearing but may have to deal with accusations of aggravating circumstances, too.
Violators found in violation of a "serious breach of conduct" with aggravating circumstances could face postseason bans of two to four years and fines of millions of dollars from specific events or gross revenue generated by the sport during years in which sanctions occurred — just like Penn State earlier this year.
In the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, the NCAA banned the Nittany Lions' football program from postseason play until after the 2016 season and levied a $60 million fine.
Coaches, too, will be held more accountable.
Under the new structure, they would be presumed responsible for violations committed by their staffs unless they could prove they were unaware of it. Those who cannot could be suspended from 10 percent of the season to a full season.
That's not all.
Penalties would be meted out more quickly.
Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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