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NCAA Penalty Structure About To Get Overhauled, And Buzz's One-Game Suspension Might Be The New Normal

Back in August, Marquette assistant coach Scott Monarch got canned after lying to investigators about providing improper benefits to a recruit. Notably, and somewhat surprisingly, head coach Buzz Williams was handed a one-game suspension for Monarch's screw-up, even though there was no evidence Buzz knew what Monarch was up to. But proposed NCAA legislation unearthed by the USA Today's Dan Wolken shows that head coach accountability is going to be the name of the game in the NCAA.

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Wolken got his mitts on a document that describes a significant overhaul in the NCAA's current penalty structure, which presently divides infractions into two inflexible categories, "major" and "secondary" violations, and sometimes permits head coaches to lay blame for serious problems on their assistant coaches (and other underlings on the staff) and escape harsh punishment of their own.

That model is, in all likelihood, going the way of the dinosaur, writes Wolken. In addition to ditching the two-tier penalty structure for a more flexible, four-tiered scheme:

[T]he primary message for head coaches is that ignorance will no longer be acceptable as a defense.

The document reads, "A head coach is presumed responsible for major/Level I and Level II violations (e.g. academic fraud, recruiting inducements) occurring within his or her program unless the coach can show that he or she promoted an atmosphere of compliance and monitored his or her staff." ...

The new guidelines also state that beginning Aug. 1, 2013, men's basketball coaches can be suspended for violations ranging from illegal contact with recruits, giving team gear to prospects or impermissible benefits given by third parties if the coach knows the third party has a relationship with the recruit. ...

[T]he head coach could be suspended for violations committed by his assistants.

When Buzz's suspension was announced in August, some people in the know -- most prominently, CBS's Gary Parrish -- were quick to conclude that the suspension was the latest example of an irreparably sour relationship between Buzz and Marquette AD Larry Williams, one that would lead Buzz out of Milwaukee in the not-so-distant future. At the time, Parrish tweeted:

I'm not going to argue that everything is rosy between Buzz and the brass, because it's clearly not, but today's news makes it look less likely that Buzz's suspension was Larry putting the screws to his head coach, or Marquette taking action that most schools wouldn't take. If the proposed legislation passes, this kind of thing might be the new normal.