The NCAA on Wednesday voted to discontinue the Independent Accountability Resolutions Process, a largely failed infractions experiment that led to more headaches than resolutions.
The vote to eliminate the IARP path was part of a big-picture overhaul of the NCAA’s infractions process, and, by far, the most relevant to those associated with the Kansas basketball program, which is still awaiting a ruling in its infractions case.
According to a news release announcing the vote, the intent of the changes to the NCAA’s infractions procedure came in an attempt “to modernize and enhance the process while focusing national office and membership resources on the most serious violations.”
“These changes to the overall infractions process will accelerate the timelines for infractions cases,” said Jere Morehead, chair of the Board of Directors. “With the adoption of the new constitution in January, NCAA members committed to resolving cases fairly and in a timely fashion, thus holding those responsible for violations accountable and avoiding penalizing those who were not involved in rule-breaking.”
As such, the NCAA adopted three major proposals on Wednesday. The elimination of the IARP was one. It will be dissolved as soon as the five cases that remain on the path are adjudicated.
Created in 2019 at the recommendation of the Commission on College Basketball, the IARP process came to an end for two major reasons. First, the NCAA said Wednesday that the number of cases referred to the IARP was “greater than initially anticipated,” and, second, the time and resources required to bring IARP cases to resolution created a significant backlog that prolonged the process and drew criticism throughout college basketball.
The NCAA’s case against KU, which includes allegations of five Level 1 infractions, a charge of head coach responsibility and a tag of lack of institutional control, was accepted by the IARP on July 1, 2020, nearly one year after KU received its initial notice of allegations from the NCAA in September 2019 and now more than two years ago.
In April of 2021, the NCAA announced that final rulings in all six cases on the IARP path were expected in the next 12 months. However, just one of the six cases has reached resolution during that time. Last December, North Carolina State was placed on probation for one year following an IARP ruling over recruiting violations.
KU, Arizona, LSU, Louisville and Memphis are the five institutions with infractions cases still being reviewed by the newly formed IARP, which was created specifically to handle complex cases related to the recent FBI investigation into corruption in college basketball recruiting.
All rulings by the IARP are final and not subject to appeal, which is different from rulings handed down by the more traditional NCAA Committee on Infractions.
There remains no known timeline for a ruling in any of the other five cases, and several people involved with college athletics, including outgoing NCAA President Mark Emmert, have expressed frustration over how long the IARP process has taken.
“By anybody’s estimation, they’ve taken way too long,” Emmert said at the Final Four in early April.
In addition to eliminating the independent path, changes to the peer review process and the appeals process also were adopted by the NCAA on Wednesday. Those changes will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2023.
The changes to the review process, designed to increase transparency and expedite resolutions include:
• More clearly defined violation charging standards for enforcement staff.
• Clarification about the role of school leadership in an investigation.
• A new standard for head coach responsibility requirements.
• The creation of a public-facing dashboard of existing infractions cases.
The changes to the appeals process, which aim to clarify the standards and reduce the number of appeals, therein completing the overall infractions process in a more timely manner include:
• Limiting appeals of penalties to only those that fall outside legislated penalty guidelines.
• Overturning Committee on Infractions decisions only when an appealing party demonstrates that no reasonable person could have made that decision.
• Resolving the majority of appealed cases through a written record rather than conducting oral arguments.
• As with the peer-review proposal, prohibiting extensions to timelines except in extreme and clearly defined circumstances.
• Removing the automatic stay for appealed penalties.
• Authorizing the Infractions Appeals Committee to issue summary affirmations of COI decisions without further comment.