The NCAA is facing possibly its biggest scandal ever with an FBI investigation leading to the arrest of four assistant basketball coaches and the firing of legendary Louisville coach Rick Pitino in connection with corruption and bribery schemes. Although the investigation has not made its way into NCAA football, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer has some very big ideas on how the NCAA can clean itself up and prevent similar scandals in the future.

After a bit of hesitation, Meyer delivered a long rant during his 97.1 The Fan show, expressing his belief that the NCAA could benefit from a zero-tolerance policy toward those who intentionally and willfully break NCAA rules:

“I’ve always been a big proponent of the NCAA. It’s very frustrating to see that things happen and things happen and things happen — some of a very serious nature — and it just disappears because they don’t have subpoena power. I hear the term ‘toothless.’ It’s certainly not because of effort, because we have very good people there. 

“I always believed if you willfully and intentionally violate a rule or you lie to the NCAA, you can never coach again. To this day, I still believe that. I’m not talking about mistakes made when you have a rulebook like this (thick). But if you intentionally pay a guy money or willfully have a second cell phone you’re using for illegal phone calls, you’re done. You can never ever coach again.”

Meyer’s got a point. Coaches would certainly think twice if their entire career was on the line when it comes to major issues of cheating.

Meyer justified his opinion by making a comparison to the punishments for student-athletes who break NCAA rules:

“It’s no different than a student-athlete. If a student-athlete lies to the NCAA, they’re finished. So you’re telling me a 50-year-old man has got more rights than an 18-year-old student-athlete? Who comes up with that? If you intentionally lie about committing violations, your career is over. You’re not suspended for two games. Some of the silly penalties you have — you can’t talk to a recruit for a week and a half or something like that — no. You’re finished. That will clean up some things.

“I’m in favor of regulation. I’m in favor of strong law enforcement and making people obey the rules in our profession. I don’t know the whole story behind it. I don’t have time. But I know one thing, when you start hearing “federal,” when someone asks you a question and you lie, you’re going to jail. I’m anxious to watch what happens.”

Everyone wants to see college athletics get cleaner. Meyer is proposing quite a harsh punishment for cheaters that the NCAA probably would never institute, but that shouldn’t be a surprise. After all, he has the Ohio State job because Jim Tressel got canned after lying to the NCAA about committing major violations.

[97.1 The Fan]

About Jesse Kramer

Jesse is a writer and editor for The Comeback. He has also worked for SI.com and runs The Catch and Shoot, a college basketball website based in Chicago. He is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Follow Jesse on Twitter @Jesse_Kramer.