If the NFL or NCAA really wanted to put teeth behind its rules, they would take away something of real value. Right now, draft choices or scholarships are removed for rule violations. The governing bodies may prevent a team from going to a bowl, or issue large financial fines, but if they really wanted to get serious and send a statement to all teams, they would hit teams where it hurts the most—right in the brand.
Imagine after USC was caught for NCAA rules violations, the team was prevented from using the Trojan image for five years. The mascot could not ride out in the middle of the field for 10 years. Or, what if the marquee song the Trojan band plays over and over again (I think it is called Tribute of Troy) was banned from being played in the Coliseum? That would have lasting and historical impact.
How about taking away the New Orleans Saints’ logo for 5 years for their pay-for-injury violations? Ban jersey sales. Ban logo use.
It’s hard to imagine a team without its brand. Sure, they can pay a fine or wait out a few years of probation, but the brand—on shirts, in ads, on hats, on jerseys, on signs and in stadiums—stripped from the uniforms would provide an effective punishment that everyone would be reminded of every time the violating team played. That won’t happen, but if you think of that world you can really see the power of brand. It’s too big to fail, and many times too big to take away.