BCS
Updated: October 1, 2013, 7:12 PM ET

Policy for NCAA sanctions

Principles for addressing the post-bowl imposition of NCAA
sanctions on a team participating in a Bowl Championship Series game

As members of the National Collegiate Athletic Association ("NCAA" or the "Association"), the conferences and institutions participating in the Bowl Championship Series arrangement ("BCS") are committed to the Principles for Conduct of Intercollegiate Athletics embodied in the Association's Constitution and other governing regulations. Intercollegiate athletics serve an important role in the educational missions of each NCAA member institution. The rigors of competition not only promote the physical well-being and character development of student-athletes but also teach the fundamental values of respect, fairness, honesty, and responsibility that are the foundations of civil society. As such, intercollegiate athletics reflect a common set of ideals broadly applicable to all of higher education.

To ensure that competition on the playing field comports with the Principles and permits student-athletes to test themselves against their peers in a fair contest, the NCAA has established a comprehensive set of rules governing all intercollegiate sports, including football. In addition, it maintains an enforcement staff to investigate potential infractions of the Principles and supporting rules and a mechanism for determining whether such infractions have, in fact, occurred. Institutions alleged to have violated NCAA rules are apprised of the allegations against them, presented with evidence gathered during the investigation, given an opportunity to be heard and present contrary evidence, and, if violations are found, an opportunity to appeal. These elaborate procedures, in our view, accord every institution that may be charged with a violation of NCAA rules an ample and fair chance to address any allegations asserted against it. They also ensure the accuracy of the fact-finding process and the propriety of any sanctions that may be imposed.

Adherence to NCAA rules is vital to both the integrity of intercollegiate games as athletic contests and to the educational aims of college athletic programs generally. As with all post-season bowl games, BCS games are subject to NCAA rules. We fully expect that teams having the opportunity to play in the BCS bowls will abide by those rules.

We also recognize that there may be occasions when an institution that has played in a BCS bowl will subsequently be found to have been in violation of NCAA rules at or about the time of the game. Because bowl games are single events that occur at specified times of the year, it will not be possible to replay the contest or alter the pairing of teams or the final result when violations are uncovered after a game. In fact, it some cases, a violation may not be discovered until some years after a game is played. Nonetheless, because we believe that compliance with NCAA rules is essential to intercollegiate athletics, and because the pairings in Bowl Championship Series games result from a selection process created by the participating bowls and all institutions fielding teams in the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision, we wish to take whatever steps we can to enhance and further the NCAA's role as the primary governing body for college sports. Traditionally, the NCAA has not exercised substantial operational control over post-season bowl games. Through its licensing process, it establishes a set of standards applicable to those games but relies upon the local bowl committees to superintend the events within the relatively broad parameters established by NCAA rules.

The NCAA has principal responsibility for governance of intercollegiate athletics and the institutional capacity and administrative structures suitable to that task. The conferences and institutions that participate in the BCS did not create the arrangement to assume oversight of intercollegiate athletics. Those responsibilities are the province of the NCAA, and should remain there.

We recognize, however, that the BCS arrangement crowns a national champion in Division I Bowl Subdivision football. We also recognize that, because the BCS games involve a number of conference champions and other highly regarded teams, they are showcase events for post-season football. One of the best ways of ensuring that they remain so is for us, as individual conferences and institutions, to foster full compliance with NCAA rules.

Accordingly, if, after the playing of a BCS bowl game, the NCAA (1) finds that an institution has violated the rules governing intercollegiate athletics in the period in which it played in a BCS game and (2) imposes sanctions for those violations, then we will consider whether such institution's participation in the BCS game should no longer be recognized, i.e., the institution's participation in the BCS game should be deemed vacated for purposes of the BCS game records that the conferences and institutions compile each year. Vacation of a team's participation in a BCS bowl game could also include withdrawal of recognition of a team as the BCS national champion if such team has won the national championship game. Such action, we believe, reflects the narrow scope of the BCS arrangement and is consistent with the NCAA's approach when it subsequently discovers infractions by institutions whose teams have played in NCAA championship events.

In making that determination, we will rely heavily on and be substantially guided by the results of the NCAA's investigative proceedings, any hearings before the Committee on Infractions or other bodies, and the factual findings made and the nature and severity of sanctions imposed, if any, after exhaustion of all rights of appeal by the affected institution. There is no need for us to replicate NCAA enforcement procedures or conduct separate fact-finding inquiries. All institutions participating in BCS games are NCAA members and are bound by its rules. In any enforcement proceedings, they are afforded substantial protections. We believe that reliance on the results of NCAA processes is not only reasonable in light of the limited question presented -- whether continued recognition of an institution's participation in a BCS game is warranted -- but also consonant with our acknowledgement that the NCAA has the primary role for governing intercollegiate athletics. When an enforcement proceeding ends, the NCAA issues a thorough report detailing its findings of violations, if any, and the sanctions that it has imposed. Therefore, there will be an ample public record from a procedurally fair and rigorous fact-finding inquiry on which our consideration may rest.

While no final determination can be made without a concrete set of facts, in evaluating whether an institution's participation in a BCS bowl game should be vacated, the conferences and institutions will be guided by the following principles:

1. When the NCAA or a conference makes a finding of one or more major violations of its rules and determines that the violations provided an institution with a material competitive advantage, we will presume that vacation of participation in a BCS bowl game is warranted.

2. When the NCAA or a conference makes a finding of violations, whether major or secondary, and imposes a sanction of forfeiture or vacation of contests in which an ineligible student-athlete participated, we will presume that vacation of participation in a BCS bowl game is warranted if: (a) the student-athlete was ineligible at the time the bowl game was played and participated in such game; or (b) taking account of the forfeiture or vacation of any regular season contests mandated by NCAA or conference sanctions, it appears unlikely that such institution would have been eligible for selection to play in a BCS bowl game.

3. When the NCAA or a conference makes a finding of only secondary violations and determines that: (a) a student-athlete, while technically ineligible for participation in athletic contests during the period of violation, should be reinstated or be eligible for reinstatement; or (b) the institution should not be subject to the sanction of forfeiture or vacation of games in which such student-athlete participated, we will presume that vacation of participation in a BCS bowl game is not warranted.

4. When the NCAA or a conference makes a finding of only secondary violations and determines that the violations provided the institution with no material competitive advantage, then we will presume that vacation of participation in a BCS bowl game is not warranted.

The presumptions are designed to resolve what we believe will be the vast majority of cases. Nonetheless, if there are some unforeseen or extenuating circumstances, they permit consideration of those factors in the analysis. We will make no determination about vacating participation in a BCS bowl game until the NCAA's processes are complete, the Association has issued a public report detailing its findings of violations and imposition of sanctions, and the time for appeals has expired.

By adhering to these principles, the aim of the conferences and institutions participating in the BCS arrangement is to support the NCAA as the primary governing body for intercollegiate athletics and to reinforce the importance of, and our respect for, the role that its rules play in maintaining the many benefits of intercollegiate athletics. College football has a long and storied history, not only as an integral part of the educational missions of institutions of higher education but also as a part of the cultural fabric of the nation. The bowl games, and particularly those that are part of the BCS arrangement, are unique to that history and contribute significantly to the great traditions and pageantry of the game. We want to see that they continue to serve as true celebrations of college football and are conducted within the rules of fair play that have animated intercollegiate athletics for over a century. By following the principles set forth in this document, we believe that we will promote the NCAA's vital oversight role for college athletics and encourage the institutions competing in the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision to adhere to the high standards of ethics and sportsmanship that are bedrock principles of American higher education.