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NCAA adopts new enforcement policies

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On Tuesday, the NCAA officially announced a new enforcement structure that takes aim at a number of things the organization has been criticized for in recent years.

From the first paragraph of the NCAA’s release: “The Division I Board of Directors today adopted an overhauled enforcement structure that creates additional levels of infractions, hastens the investigation process and ratchets up penalties for the most egregious violations.”

You can read the entire release if you like — and the reactions to it from Dennis Dodd and Eamonn Brennan are worth the click as well — but there are really three points that you need to take out of this:

1. There is a new violation structure that is broken up into four tiers: Level I (severe breach of conduct), Level II (significant breach of conduct), Level III (breach of conduct), and Level IV (Incidental issues). The intent here is to eliminate the wiggle room found within simply designating a violation as major or minor. It will take awhile to iron out exactly what the difference is between a severe and a significant breach of conduct, but the differing designations are noteworthy.

2. Head coaches are now responsible for everything that happens within their program. No longer can they plead ignorance; they are guilty until proven innocent. Seriously:

Penalties in the previous structure relied on whether the head coach knew of the violations or whether there was a “presumption of knowledge.” But under the new structure, rather than focus on knowledge or the presumption of it, the bylaw will be amended to presume only responsibility. Accordingly, if a violation occurs, the head coach is presumed responsible, and if he or she can’t overcome that presumption, charges will be forthcoming.

That’s strongly worded, and also a smart move. If head coaches are going to be the highest-paid people on the staff, than they should also be the ones that take the most risk if a violation should occur.

It’s also worth noting two other changes that have been made: coaches and schools can be charged with different levels of violations, and the sanctions that come with those violations (recruiting restrictions or suspensions) will follow a coach to a new school.

3. The NCAA wants their decisions to be more transparent and expedient. They want a more clearly defined punishment structure. They want people to understand why some things take a long time to hash out, and they also want to “lower their ticket times”, so to speak. That’s a good thing for everyone involved.

Whether or not this will have the desired effects is yet to be seen. And whether or not the NCAA is willing and able to actually enforce these rules on the richest programs is something that needs to be proven; we’re allowed to be skeptical at this point.

This is a step in the right direction, however.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

No. 17 Arizona erases double-digit deficit to beat UCLA

Arizona coach Sean Miller reacts to a foul call during the first half of Arizona's NCAA college basketball game against UCLA, Friday, Feb 12, 2016, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
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Allonzo Trier scored 15 of his 18 points in the second half and Parker Jackson-Cartwright scored 16 points in his second career start as No. 17 Arizona knocked off UCLA, 81-75, in Tucson on Friday night.

UCLA was up by as much as 11 points in the first half and took a ten point lead into half time, but in the second half, the Bruins were eventually done in by foul trouble and the stronger front line of the Wildcats.

Ryan Anderson and Kaleb Tarczewski were dominant down the stretch. The duo combined to score 12 of the last 23 point for the Wildcats, including the bucket that put the Wildcats ahead for the first time since early in the first half. Off of a missed free throw, UCLA’s Thomas Welsh battled with Tarczewski for the rebound, but when Welsh finally seemed to gain control of the loose ball, Anderson knocked it out of his hands and bullied through Jonah Bolden for a layup.

All told, those two combined for 20 points and 27 boards, seven of which were offensive. They also managed to foul out both Welsh and Tony Parker, although some of the calls that went against UCLA down the stretch were questionable.

The win keeps Arizona within a game of first place Oregon in the Pac-12 standings and tied for second with No. 23 USC, who will be visiting the McKale Center on Sunday night.

No. 23 USC falls at Arizona State

Arizona State head coach Bobby Hurley applauds the efforts of his team during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Arizona, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)
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No. 23 USC missed a golden opportunity to make up a game in the Pac-12 standings on Friday night.

No. 11 Oregon lost to Colorado on Thursday night, dropping back into a tie for first place in the league with the Trojans, a game ahead of No. 17 Arizona. But USC fell at Arizona State, 74-67, keeping them a game off of the pace that the Ducks have set.

The loss is even more painful when you consider that, on Sunday, the Trojans will be making the trip to Tucson to take on Arizona. The Wildcats are not what we have become accustomed to seeing under Sean Miller, but they are still a top 25 team and the McKale Center is still one of the toughest places in the country to get a win.

Thanks to Friday’s loss, instead of entering McKale with an outside chance of taking over sole possession of first place in the league, USC will have top hope they don’t fall two games off the pace.

As far as the game itself was concerned, USC committed 17 turnovers, shot 2-for-11 from three and gave up 16 offensive rebounds to Arizona State. That’s how you lose a game where you shoot better than 51 percent from the floor. USC was just never able to consistently get out into transition, and that caused them to struggle executing in the half court.

Nikola Jovanovic led the way with 25 points and 15 boards for USC.

Tra Holder’s 20 points made the difference for Arizona State, who kept themselves within striking distance of an at-large bid with the win.