NCAA Rules – Do They Make Sense?

When I moved from Doane College, an NAIA college, to Northwest Missouri State University, an NCAA II institution, I knew there would be a difference in rules. The NAIA hardly has any rules. It’s hard to break one of their rules and if you do it’s almost impossible to get caught.

Of course, the NCAA has a lot of rules and it’s easy to break one and get caught. Most rules violations are secondary in nature. You self report the violation and get a letter in your file, but that’s it. I had one NCAA compliance officer tell me if you don’t self report some violations, people will know you’re cheating.

I’ll give you an example. During the summer of 2000, I had two new players work a summer camp before they attended any classes in the fall. I didn’t pay them, but I did buy them lunch. VIOLATION!

Those two players were temporarily ruled ineligible. I was self reported. The players had to pay back the cost of their meals to a charity. I think it amounted to about $11 each. Then, Northwest filed a report to the NCAA and they were reinstated. All this paperwork and drama were for feeding unpaid help. Does that make sense to you?

Please understand I’m not being critical of our compliance officer, Stephanie Martin. In fact, she is doing an outstanding job. Stephanie lets us know immediately about rule changes and is always up-to-date on eligibility issues. She does her work in a positive, professional manner as she tries to make sense of senseless NCAA rules.

However, I will not be near as charitable to NCAA rule makers. Did you know that there are three sets of rules in the NCAA? NCAA I schools are held to one standard, while NCAA II and NCAA III all have their own set of rules.

For example, in the NCAA II rule book it says you can play any NCAA I, NCAA II, or NCAA III team in a preseason exhibition game. That’s where you can advertise to the public, keep score and wear your game uniforms.

However, the NCAA III rule book states that their schools can only play scrimmages. During scrimmages, you can’t keep score, advertise to the public, or wear game uniforms. You would think the NCAA II rule makers would read the NCAA III rule book.

My biggest rant has to be about preseason workout rules. The NCAA II rule book tells us we can have our players for eight hours per week until October 15, the first official day of practice.

The coaches can only use two of those eight hours for on-the-floor instruction. The other six hours are dedicated to strength and conditioning. The number of hours doesn’t bother me. It’s how I can use my two hours of on the floor instruction.

The NCAA decided that coaches should only be allowed to work with four players at a time while in the gym. The last time I checked, we use five players on the floor when we play games. Why four for preseason work?

A few years ago, NCAA I changed the rule to allow as many players as the coach wanted to use. They could use small groups or the whole team. The coach got a chance to decide. NCAA II tried to follow along. It got shot down.

Guess who shot it down? A student organization somehow thought the coaches would take advantage of the players and their objection helped defeat the new rule.

How could coaches take advantage of student-athletes? The players, whether numbering one or 21, can only be on the floor for TWO HOURS. Who should decide how to coach the players, a student organization or the college coaches? TWO HOURS IS TWO HOURS! How can we abuse the student-athletes?

The NCAA II rule makers are looking to make major changes when they vote on proposals this January. The number of games and mandatory time off are likely to pass. Funny how the NCAA never asked any of the coaches how we felt about that.

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Gene Steinmeyer

About Gene Steinmeyer

Gene Steinmeyer coached the Northwest Missouri State women’s basketball team for 13 seasons before retiring after 26 years as a collegiate head coach after the 2011-12 season. He retired as the second winningest women’s basketball coach at Northwest as his 2010-11 team won both the MIAA Regular Season and Tournament Championship advancing to the NCAA National Semifinals one game shy of the national championship game.