Is a tougher NCAA on the way?

AP: The direction of the NCAA is clear: Those kinder, gentler days are giving way to a new, tougher approach.

In June, after spending nearly 20 months debating harsher sanctions for rule-breakers, the NCAA hit Southern Cal with the most severe penalties in years. The football program received a two-year bowl ban — the first time any school faced that penalty since Alabama completed its probation in 2003 — and barely avoided getting hit with the first television ban since 1996.

Now, with an increasing number of high-profile programs under scrutiny — Alabama, North Carolina, Michigan, Florida, South Carolina and Georgia among them — the penalty phase is getting more attention.

And Emmert thinks it is time to get tough.

“I can’t talk about any one of those cases, but the fact that we’ve got strong enforcement going on, I think, is a good thing,” he said.

It’s not just coaches and athletic departments Emmert is worried about. The NCAA has launched a widespread investigation into athletes who may have had improper contacts with agents. Two players — Alabama’s Marcell Dareus and Georgia’s A.J. Green — already have been punished.

Emmert said he is taking steps to ensure this does not become a trend. He has already contacted the pro leagues and representatives from various players’ associations and he hasn’t ruled out lobbying states to enforce their own statutes regarding sports agents. An Associated Press examination earlier this year found that many of those laws are unused. (read more about the new NCAA leadership below)