College Basketball: After the FBI trials, NCAA may have a hammer after all

Light sentences stemming from the FBI investigation into college basketball suggested there would be little actual punishment. Suddenly, an unusually talkative NCAA signals a heavier hammer.

College basketball head coaches are sweating again. Or maybe, behind the scenes, a couple of dozen of them have been sweating profusely for over a year. The so-far light sentences from the FBI investigation into college basketball trials have made it appear no guilty party will much suffer.

Defendants received anywhere from probation to six months in jail. Former Auburn assistant coach, Chuck Person is yet to be sentenced. His jail time is expected to be more severe. Beyond the criminal penalties, the careers of some of the guilty have been destroyed.

The national hopes about cleaning up college basketball and ending the most egregious pay-for-play activities have not included expectation the NCAA will mete out much punishment.

Suddenly, there are some indications the NCAA may have found its hammer and is willing to use it. The strongest indication is NCAA officials are openly discussing upcoming enforcement action. The organization is normally tight-lipped until schools are first informed.

A new infractions committee begins work on August 1 and it will be made up of individuals outside the normal NCAA sphere. NCAA vice president for regulatory affairs, Stan Wilcox spoke recently,

we’re going to be moving forward with a number of Level I cases that will help people realize that, “Yeah, the enforcement staff was in a position to move forward”

Even before August 1, Wilcox said two schools will receive a notice of allegations in early July and four more will receive the same before the end of the summer. The names of the schools were not released but the most likely are Kansas, Arizona, Louisville, Oklahoma State, USC, LSU and Auburn.

What many college basketball fans may not realize is new NCAA rules,

now make head coaches responsible for wrongdoing within their program.

In the case of LSU, the new rule probably does not matter, given the reported FBI wire-taps of head coach Will Wade. But the new rule matters greatly at Kansas, Arizona and Auburn.

Matt Norlander of CBS Sports shared an opinion the NCAA is actually investigating more than a dozen schools.

Wilcox also said,

It’s  a great opportunity for the enforcement staff, the committee on infractions, as well as our whole community to now try to … put things back where they need to be.

Maybe – and it remains a big maybe – the NCAA has found the backbone to act decisively.

Some Alabama basketball fans are asking if LSU gets a notice of allegations this summer and LSU fires him, what about Trendon Watford? It is possible a Wade firing this summer would release its newly signed players from their obligation to the school.