A Dangerous Double Standard

By BASN Wire Services
Updated: September 23, 2009

NCAAPOMPANO BEACH, Fla. — A study released this week concludes Bowl Championship Series (BCS) universities receive less stringent probation penalties from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) than other Division I institutions for violating the governing body’s rules.

Further, the research notes historically Black colleges and universities in the MEAC and SWAC receive higher probation penalties from the NCAA infractions committee than any other Division I category.

The Michael L. Buckner Law Firm, which commissioned and conducted the study, researched probation penalties imposed by the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions for rules-violations committed by universities during a 56-month period (January 1, 2005, to September 2, 2009).

The purpose of the project was to determine whether the average duration of probation penalties served by the well-funded universities in the NCAA Football Bowl Sub-division (FBS) is less than the length imposed on Football Championship Sub-division (FCS) institutions and non-football sponsoring schools (Division I-AAA).

The complete study can be downloaded at the Michael L. Buckner Law Firm website, www.michaelbucknerlaw.com.

The study reveals the Committee on Infractions:

• Issued an average 2.58-year probation penalty to universities in the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10 and SEC (BCS automatic-qualifier schools) while imposing an average 2.74-year probation penalty on all other Division I institutions.

• Issued an average 2.58-year probation penalty to FBS schools while imposing an average 2.86-year probation penalty on all other Division I schools.

• Issued an average 3.83-year probation penalty to HBCUs while imposing average 2.58, 2.58 and 2.54-year probation penalties on BCS automatic-qualifiers, FBS schools and on all Division I schools (excluding HBCUs), respectfully.

The law firm tested the study’s results using the 2008 Alabama State University enforcement case. Alabama State, a Michael L. Buckner Law Firm client, is a FCS school and HBCU.

The Alabama State enforcement case involved academic fraud violations, as well as other major violations of NCAA legislation.

The NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions issued a five-year probation penalty to Alabama State on December 10, 2008.

However, during the period beginning on October 28, 1970, and ending on December 10, 2008, the Committee on Infractions issued an average 2.50-year probation penalty to BCS automatic-qualifier schools in infractions cases involving academic fraud and other major rules violations.

Michael L. Buckner, a licensed attorney and private investigator, authored the study. Mr. Buckner advises organizations on complex NCAA enforcement investigations and appeals and has appeared before NCAA infractions committees on several occasions.


Buckner, as an independent consultant for the NCAA (2006-07), conducted on-site investigative audits of non-traditional and prep schools in the United States and Puerto Rico. Mr. Buckner is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court and all federal and state courts in Florida.

Mr. Buckner earned his bachelor’s degree in international relations and social sciences and communication from the University of Southern California and a law degree from Florida State University.

“In light of the ongoing, high-profile NCAA investigations involving the University of Southern California and the University of Michigan, this study provides a unique look at how the NCAA penalizes its member institutions and whether the process is fair to all Division I schools,” Buckner said.

NOTE: The Michael L. Buckner Law Firm website and resource center can be located at: www.michaelbucknerlaw.com.