The NCAA knew it had to do something following the federal corruption investigation into college basketball’s black market last year, the worst kept secret in all of sports yet one perpetuated by the organization’s own antiqued rules. The NCAA knew no one trusted its system. It knew it had to make changes.
“We can’t go into the next basketball season without having made some pretty significant changes that restore people’s confidence in, not just basketball, but in the enterprise,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said on Oct. 31.
This was an opportunity for the NCAA to make a bold, progressive statement, to lead college sports into the future and salvage a gigantic money-making operation that people still care deeply about. It could have allowed athletes to profit off their likeness. It could have put additional infrastructure in place to help its players handle the demands athletics and school. It could finally put a fork in the amateurism model that is so obviously obsolete.
The NCAA didn’t do any of that when it announced its changes on Wednesday. Instead, the NCAA doubled down on its own core values, increased its punishments for breaking rules and enhanced its own power in dishing out penalties.