INDIANAPOLIS — School presidents want the NCAA to take a leaner, meaner approach to rule breakers.
On the second and final day of the governing body's presidential retreat, 56 presidents and a handful of other university leaders spent nearly four hours discussing ways to simplify the 439-page Division I rule book and punish those schools with the most serious violations.
"I think there is a very strong sense among presidents and chancellors that we need to be very clear and very severe where infractions do exist and that we want to send a message about certain behaviors," said Oregon State President Ed Ray, chairman of the NCAA's executive committee. "There needs to be very serious penalties for very serious violations."
Ray said the group did not discuss any potential sanctions, deferring instead to a working group that is expected to make recommendations to the full membership.
NCAA President Mark Emmert has repeatedly said he favors stronger punishments, especially for the most egregious infractions.
And it might not take legislation to deliver change.
Post-season bans and television bans remain options for the NCAA's infractions committee, though they have been used sparingly over the past decade. Last year, Southern California became the first Football Bowl Subdivision school to be hit with a post-season ban since Alabama's two-year ban ended in 2003. No FBS team has faced a TV ban since 1996.
The NCAA began debating a new get-tough approach in October 2008, and the recent spate of high-profile cases involving some of college sports' heaviest hitters has forced university leaders to take a more urgent approach.
There is a general consensus, Ray said, that the rules need simplification.
"For example, instead of 1,000 or 10,000 rules, we need to determine what are the 100 most important things," he said after the morning session.
The NCAA's leadership council said last week it is working on a formal proposal to deregulate electronic communications and allow unlimited contact between coaches and recruits after Aug. 1 of the player's junior year.
It's a message that has resonated among the presidents.
"There is a lot of interest, energy and enthusiasm about reform," Indiana University President Michael McRobbie said.