The NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) has been plagued by a myriad of problems and challenges, from its inception in 1906 to the outfit it is today. This research paper seeks to understand the past problems and how the society viewed them, including the measures that were put in place to fix those early problems. It will also strive to offer practical problem solving approaches that we, as the society could implement on the system so that it can achieve even greater success. The paper will discuss the chronology of problematic past events and how they were solved. It will also offer suggestions on how the NCAA can be improved so as to offer better and more comprehensive services to the sportsmen and their respective institutions.
In the early 1900’s, college football was a rowdy and risky affair that left many players and some fans either dead or maimed for life (Dunnavant 54).The risky nature of early football was the catalyst that necessitated the formation of a body, tasked with ensuring that the football games got some semblance of safety. In 1905, Theodore Roosevelt, who was the current American president, convened two meetings at the white house, which were attended by college athletics officials, to lobby for reforms in the college football. The most notable person, in the formation of NCAA was Henry M. MacCracken the Chancellor of the New York University who successfully called a meeting with 13 institutions to initiate reforms concerning the rules in the football playing in 1905.The subsequent meeting, held on December 28, and attended by 62 universities and colleges gave birth to the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States (IAAUS). Officially constituted on the 13th of March 1906, the IAAUS changed its name to the current NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) in 1910.
The NCAA was just a regulatory body in college football, because its core function was to formulate rules and offer a forum for discussing football issues. Its first major break came in 1921 when it organized and hosted the first NCAA national championships under the title “The National Collegiate Track and Field Championships”. In 1939, the NCAA hosted its first national intercollegiate basketball championship, which was a huge success. The college athletics grew rapidly with the introduction of several championships, effectively leading to the expansion of the national athletics programs in the 70’s.This unprecedented divergence of the athletics games prompted the need to restructure the programs offered so as to accommodate the varying and changing levels of the sports.The membership of the association was divided into three competitive and legislative divisions in 1973; I, II and III. In 1978 Division I members were for the creation of subdivisions I-A and I-AA. The two subdivisions were given names the Football Bowl Subdivision and the Football Championship Subdivion, respectively in 2007. It was not until 1980, when Divisions II and III set up 10 championships, where the women’s athletics were incorporated.
Since its inception and operationalization, the NCAA has been plagued by a myriad of problems and challenges. During the infancy stage of the association, its greatest challenge was on the enforcement of its rules and regulations. According to Smith ( 8-11), the early constitution clearly stated that athletics activities ”shall be maintained on an ethical plane in keeping with the dignity and high purpose of education”. The expectation was that, “a high standard of personal honor, eligibility and fair play” would be the guiding principles that would oversee the smooth running of the athletics games. However, the association was handicapped on the issue of enforcing the rules, a predicament that could be attributed to a lack of support for the idea of a central enforcement authority by the original Executive Committee. In essence it was just a toothless dog that could only bark but couldn’t bite. The basic and primary enforcement factor for the association was basically” trust”, which was prone to be abused and misused by the members.
The lack of law enforcement powers was a major thorn in the flesh of the Association and it took many decades for the Association to grow “some teeth to bite”. The 1940’s saw many serious and blatant violations, especially in relation to the Association’s core value of the principle of amateurism. This prompted the NCAA Delegates Committee to grant the Executive Committee more investigative and interpretative powers, with the primary intention of protecting amateurism (Dunnavant 59). A “conference of conferences” was subsequently held in Chicago in 1946, to lobby the members to discuss the growing concerns connected to the violations of the amateurism principle .The first major breakthrough was achieved in 1948 with the adoption of the “sanity code” in respect to the members following the laid down rules and regulations. Dubbed as the “return to sanity”, the convention imposed strict regulations on matters concerning outside financial aid, academic standards, mode of recruiting the players, institutional control and most importantly, amateurism (Dunnavant 64). For the first time, the Association had teeth to bite because it declared that the violators of the sanity code would be barred from the NCAA. To exert their authority and show their seriousness, the NCAA found seven institutions to have violated the sanity code in 1950, but luckily for the institutions, a lack of a voting majority by the delegates saved them from exclusion from the NCAA. However, one year later the sanity code was repealed due to its severe penalties for violations and the limits that had been set regarding financial aid. The sanity code was replaced by a new code that established membership committee, mandated with the role of probing complains about violations and an investigative subcommittee. The conclusions of the subcommittee would then be forwarded to the NCAA council for any punitive action like suspension, probation or expulsion.
The sanity code made a revolution in the American college sports world by bringing sanity and a systematic code of ethics in the college sporting sector (Falla 12-27). Under the chairmanship of Walter Byers (The first executive director of NCAA) a formal action, based on the findings of the subcommittee was taken against 10 basketball players from the University of Kentucky who were accused of receiving impermissible financial aid. The players were thereafter suspended for one year from the league games, a penalty that they accepted thereby giving credence to the NCAA on its ability to enforce its rules. A national certification plan was adopted in 1954, which required an institutions president to certify in writing that his institution would comply with the rules and regulations of the association. The ‘show clause’ (which is in effect even today) was adopted in 1956 requiring institutions to show why its members should not be suspended after violating the rules. Several amendments were made in subsequent years, most notably being the appointment of a Special Enforcement and Reorganization Committee tasked with the role of recommending changes in the enforcement process. A 1987 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court dealt a big blow to the NCAA on its ability to enforce its rules and regulations equally in all the states. The ruling (commonly referred to as the Nevada law) filed by the University of Nevada required the NCAA to use defined measures in its investigations. Other states soon followed the suit seriously undermining the authority of the association. Their effort to have the law reversed was rejected by the Supreme Court when it declined to review the case (Falla 63).
The society can play a crucial role in the sustenance of a good conduct by exhibiting trust where the rules and regulations are concerned. The NCAA should not be seen as a policing unit that watches over the offenders and the violators of the set rules. The perception of the society towards the association should be that of a partner who formulates rules to maintain sanity and equality in the athletics sports. Since its inception in 1906, the NCAA most important and core value was that of trust. It was expected that the players and their respective institutions would stick to the rules and regulations based on pure trust of each other, rather than following the rules based on fear of repercussions. In the original constitution drafted in 1906, the first delegates expressed their desire in the set rules and regulations in which the athletics games were expected to reflect “dignity and high purpose of education” (Dunnavant 77).The role of the association has substantially evolved to cover wider administrative boundaries, education and outreach programmes, rules formulation and enforcement among other roles. It has emerged as the body that is tasked with ensuring that the sports sector in the colleges is streamlined and gives the games a sense of purpose.
One suggestion of improvement that the association should consider is the inclusion of the public sector in the administration of the sporting events. They should formulate a provision whereby the members of the general public are given a chance to express their opinions on the competitions and input the suggestions and advice. This is because the public has a wealth of information and experience, based on the fact that most of them, if not all of them, were once college students and they have something to say. The television networks also should be given rights to air the games live because this will give a chance for those who cannot attend the games to be a part of the games. With the advancement in technology the games can even be aired live throughout the world, it will only not popularize the events but will also advertise the upcoming new players of great and promising talent (Dunnavant 77).
Another major way to improve the sporting world would be to look for ways of extending the jurisdiction of the association from the American boundaries, to the whole world. Throughout the world, sports have been an integral part of every day life, especially in learning institutions. Many great athletes and players start nurturing their raw talent in education institutions, starting at the elementary level. When they reach college level the talent is polished up, and most of the great players can then decide whether to take the sport as a career or just as a form of relaxation and enjoyment. In this respect, the NCAA should yearn to include other countries in their games to collaborate with the other sporting authorities of the different nations. The outcome of this should be global championship, which would allow the American college students to compete with some of the best athletes from all over the world. They should collaborate with other regional, national and international sporting associations to improve on the sporting events.
The Association should also relax some of their most stringent rules so as to cut slack to the institutions and the player alike. For example, in the “sanity code”, the limit set for financial aid should be relaxed, so as to give the corporate world a chance to support, through sponsorship programmes, their favorite teams. The increased funding can even be used by institutions to acquire state of the art equipment that can further help in the improvement of the games. More funds can also be used for follow up programmes for the best student players once they finish their college years. The corporate world should be encouraged to participate in the affairs of the college sports, not for profit making but as a part of their corporate social responsibility. Big corporate organizations have plenty of money to be spent, and the college games should benefit from this, albeit in a minimal way.
In conclusion it is evident that the role of the NCAA has greatly transformed from what it was a decade ago to what it is now. As discussed earlier, there are some major milestones which have been achieved, but as they say, the sky is the limit. As the sporting events become more popular part of the education system, so should the NCAA adapt to the ever changing world of sports. Its tentacles should be spread widely and far to transcend geographical boundaries and age limits among other limitations. The association should be highly commended for bringing a semblance of sanity to a field which had the potential of becoming rowdy and unruly, but thanks to the NCAA, the college sports now are more mature and sensible.
The society must first of all appreciate the efforts that have been put in place by the administrative framework of the NCAA, so as to offer practical suggestions on its improvement. The social media can be used by the members of the society to raise their concerns and suggestions regarding the mode of operation of the association. On the other hand the association should accept positive criticism from the members of the public and incorporate the suggestions put forward by the society members. Thanks to the advance of the Internet, there can be an exchange of information between the association and the society.