Rules of civil procedure and court are similar to the NCAA operating bylaws on enforcement. Court and NCAA enforcement rules both have time limitations for initiating proceedings. Court and NCAA enforcement rules have deadlines in responding to notices sent by opposing parties or the NCAA. Both have rules of evidence, discovery, and pleadings. Both have hearings and procedures for appeals.
NCAA enforcement rules can trace their origin to court rules. The biggest difference is the NCAA's "Notice of Inquiry," which is written or oral notice to the president of an institution that it is being investigated by the NCAA. It has no direct analog in court procedure.
After providing notice of inquiry, the NCAA conducts interviews and gathers documents, similar to depositions and discovery in court proceedings. Like in discovery in court proceedings, a school is responsible for providing truthful and relevant information to the NCAA, even if the information is against its self-interest.
If the NCAA thinks it has discovered a violation during its inquiry, it will issue a "Notice of Allegations," which is like a complaint (federal court) or petition (state court). The notice of allegations is provided to the school and any involved individuals, and details the alleged violations, the severity of the violations, the available hearing procedures and provides an opportunity for response. The school and involved individuals have 90 days to respond. In court proceedings, defendants typically have 20 days to respond to a complaint or petition.
Within 60 days of the school and/or involved individuals' responses to a notice of allegations, a pre-hearing conference is held, which is similar to a discovery or pre-trial conference. At the pre-hearing conference, the parties make stipulations and clarify the issues to be discussed in the hearing.
Either before or during the pre-hearing conference, the school or involved individual can elect for summary disposition in cases involving allegations of Level I or II violations (formerly "major" violations). The election of summary disposition proceedings is like a stipulated trial, in which the parties agree on the relevant facts, and let the judge decide whether a violation occurred and if there is a penalty.
After the hearing, or in summary disposition proceedings, the Committee on Infractions is like a judge or a jury. The Committee makes its decision based on the evidence. If a school or involved individual appeals, the Infractions Appeals Committee is like the appeals court.