NCAA legislation resulting from the sweeping college basketball bribery scandal has athletic directors fearful that they may be at greater risk of facing criminal charges for compliance violations.
As reported by CBS Sports, the so-called "attestation of compliance" legislation shifts some of the ultimate responsibility for compliance in athletic departments from presidents and chancellors to athletic directors. The new standard comes out of the reforms urged by the Rice Commission on College Basketball 16 months ago. Eight schools and seven individuals were implicated in the government's probe that exposed the depth of cheating in the sport. The NCAA has since denied a request to delay the "attestation of compliance" legislation.
"Five years ago no one would have ever said that an athletic staff member could go to jail because of admissions or certification," said Tom McMillen, head of Lead1 the professional organization for the nation's 130 Football Bowl Subdivision athletic directors. "You would have taken a bet with anyone on the planet. Look what's happening. People are going to jail."
On July 23, McMillen wrote NCAA president Mark Emmert asking for a delay in implementation of attestation from August 1 to January 1, 2020. The denial of that request came three days later from Donald Remy, the NCAA's chief operating officer and chief legal counsel. Remy wrote that Lead1's contention that more AD responsibility would expose them to "potential liability – both criminal and civil …" was "a vast overstatement."
McMillen, a former Maryland congressman, sent a survey to the FBS ADs regarding attestation. He got 58 responses, 95 percent of which supported modifying the legislation.
"Our ADs are really up in arms. I've had several ADs tell me they won't sign it," McMillen told CBS Sports. "Whenever you have attestation, it increases liability no matter how you want to carve it up. When you have the issue of high public scrutiny. The NCAA can't stop a prosecutor from looking into it."
"Some of these athletic departments are 200, 300, 400 people," one FBS AD who did not want to be identified told CBS Sports. "How do you document it? It really came out of the chute too quickly."
ADs have until Oct. 15 to sign the attestation document. Failure to do so could mean a school would be ineligible for individual and team NCAA championships.