May 1st, 2013 10:25 am | by NIGEL JAQUISS News | Posted In: Schools, Politics, Sports, Legislature

New Bill Would Punish Rogue College Coaches

lede_chipkelly_3907Departing Duck Chip Kelly - IMAGE: Mitchell Lea

As the University of Oregon's legal bills related to a pending NCAA investigation mount, Rep. Brent Barton (D-Oregon City) introduced legislation Tuesday aimed at making coaches think harder about their conduct.

Here's the legislative summary of Legislative Concept 3954:

Provides that coach at public university who intentionally or recklessly commits or causes to be committed major violation of rules of National Collegiate Athletic Association is liable for university’s actual damages and attorney fees. Applies to major violations committed before, on or after effective date. Declares emergency, effective on passage.

The Oregonian has reported that the University of Oregon has already paid more than $150,000 to an outside law firm for that firm's help in investigating alleged recruiting violations that took place on the watch of former Ducks football coach Chip Kelly. With the program facing major penalties, Kelly fled to the NFL, where he is now the coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Kelly is not the first college coach to flee a program facing NCAA discipline. University of Kentucky men's basketball coach John Calipari, perhaps the top recruiter in the college game, left the University of Memphis after the 2008 season for a much more lucrative job at Kentucky. After he departed Memphis, an NCAA investigation led to Memphis forfeiting all its wins in the 2008 season, when it finished second in the men's national championship.

Barton, a lawyer, says he's not aware of similar laws in other states but he is aware that mercenary coaches can leave former employers holding the bag with no repercussions.

"When it comes to following the rules, the costs and benefits are misaligned in college sports. Coaches benefit in the short-term by breaking recruiting rules, allowing them to build their programs and sometimes getting a job in the pros," Barton said in an email. "But the university, particularly its players and fans, pays the long-term costs of the coach’s misconduct in the form of NCAA sanctions. How many college coaches (Chip Kelly, [former USC football coach] Pete Carroll, etc.) have we seen jump to the NFL after the NCAA begins investigating, leaving behind a damaged program? This pattern will repeat itself until we realign the basic incentives. "

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