The NCAA has been investigating potential infractions in the Ole Miss athletic department for a long time. It’s been a year since the NCAA first formally notified the school of a series of sometimes-zesty, sometimes-not allegations, for actions dating as far back as 2012. Ole Miss doesn’t yet know exactly what sanctioning, if any, it’ll face.
Enter a former Ole Miss football player who happens to be a legislator in the Mississippi House of Representatives. And he’s got just the solution.
Republican State Rep. Trey Lamar introduced a bill last week that would force the NCAA to close investigations and render judgments within nine months of a school’s response to a notice of allegations, termed by him as a “letter of official inquiry.”
The bill also would require the NCAA to wrap its appeals process within six months of making a final decision on a school’s case. Each day in which the NCAA exceeds the timelines put forward in the bill would result in Mississippi fining the NCAA $10,000.
The full text of the eight-page bill is here, if it interests you. Its title is the National Collegiate Athletic Association Fairness in F.A.C.T. Investigation Act of 2017. That acronym stands for “fair, accurate, collaborative and timely.”
“When investigations drag on for a long time, I personally feel this can wreak havoc on a taxpayer-owned institution,” Lamar now explains to Gridiron Now. “Not many people had thought about it from that angle after doing research.”
“This bill has nothing to do with the current investigation at Ole Miss – nothing,” Lamar adds. “Yes, the current investigation hits pretty close to home being here in the state of Mississippi and at Ole Miss, but I would tell those people to please read the bill, as it has nothing to do with the current investigation.”
Just a legislative coincidence.
Even if Mississippi’s legislature passed the bill, which it probably won’t, its enforcement would be impractical. The NCAA isn’t going to let itself face drastically different reporting requirements from state to state, and individual state governments are badly out-leveraged if they try to corner the NCAA. That’s how it works when you face an organization with lots of money and member institutions all over the country, and which governs the collegiate sports that are the cultural lifeblood of so many places.
If a state government tried to fine the NCAA, the organization could retaliate in any number of ways. The NCAA has lots of levers at its disposal to make life harder on programs from the offending state. Given that the NCAA would have to already be investigating a Mississippi school for such a law to have any effect, the NCAA could simply choose to come down like a ton of bricks on the school that’s being investigated. In this case, that’d be Ole Miss.
This is not Lamar’s first Ole Miss-related legislative activity, though it’s probably the most consequential. Lamar was previously a sponsor on a House resolution congratulating Ole Miss for winning the 2015 season’s Sugar Bowl.
Lamar represents the state’s 8th legislative district. That’s right around Oxford, the home of Ole Miss. Here’s his bio on Ole Miss’ official website, which says he was on the Rebels’ roster in 2001 and 2002 but never saw game action.
Mississippi is not going to successfully strong-arm the NCAA into hastening the conclusion of an investigation into Ole Miss. But Ole Miss football fans who happen to vote for state reps will be glad to see Lamar trying, and that’s probably the point.
A call to Lamar’s office on Thursday morning wasn’t immediately returned.