Here at Your Best 11 we have been hard on Mark Emmert. He is not our favorite guy. He's said things that have been remarkably asinine and clueless in the grand scheme of things. He's helped steer the NCAA down a ruthless direction where protocol need not be followed.
However, with the recent decision by collegiate athletics' governing body, Emmert and his charges deserve a spot of credit. As NCAA.org reported, the group is looking to streamline the rule book in a couple facets, most notably recruiting.
However, the big news comes in the form of the reasoning behind the changes. Here's Emmert, from the NCAA.org:
“Some of our rules are counterintuitive, outdated and just unenforceable. They don’t make sense in the world we live in,” Emmert said. “We are refocusing on the things that really matter, the threats to integrity, and the biggest issues facing intercollegiate athletics.”
The Q&A goes on further, to specifically address the issue that has been impossible to avoid: competitive balance. There is no such thing as competitive equity and, for the first time, Emmert and the guys in Indianapolis speak to that fact:
The current justification for rules as creating a level playing field has produced too many rules that are not meaningful, enforceable or contributory to student-athlete success. The shift to a fair competition model acknowledges that natural advantages exist between campuses that cannot – and should not – be regulated. The changes are intended to better define what fairness means in terms of eligible student-athletes, scholarships, the length of the playing and recruiting seasons, and the number of coaches. Ultimately, retaining the current rules will not impede the competitive shift.
In other words, the NCAA is looking to stop placing rules on top of rules to act as a governor of sorts on the engine of big-time schools. Alabama, Texas, USC and their ilk have made the investment to be good at sports and no rule is going to raise Troy or Miami of Ohio up to play on the same field as them.
It took them awhile, but they finally realized trying to blow out Ohio State or Florida State or Oregon's candle is not going to make Toledo, FIU or Idaho's candle shine any brighter.
The organization is taking off the handcuffs. They are letting the big boys start to run. If you can afford it, from a staffers and recruiting materials standpoint, then you can do it. Just because Eastern Michigan cannot afford to hire folks does not mean Michigan or Michigan State shouldn't be able to.
With this move, the NCAA is looking to focus on fairness from more than just a "limit what big guys can do to help little guys" standpoint, and that is a good thing, folks. As Emmert told USA Today, Saturday:
There are universities that made investments 100 years ago that, by historical accident in some instances, have set as their role, scope and mission, things that give them competitive advantages in their ability to fund and support athletics.
Rules are not going to change that. It is nice that Emmert and the NCAA have finally realized this point. Attempting to legislate a level playing field has only resulted in senseless rules that bog down people attempting to do their job. The pursuit of competitive fairness, not a level playing field, is a big step in the right direction for Mark Emmert and his organization.