Today's NY Times has an interesting article about colleges hiring law firms to investigate their athletic programs and ferret out irregularities and NCAA violations, presumably before the NCAA does.
Seems like a win-win--the NCAA is "certainly very busy" by their own admission, and potential for violations high--why not get ahead of the game (ooh, bad pun) and investigate yourself first? Violations can be corrected and bad actors weeded out, which benefits the program overall. Personally, I'm a fan of the proactive approach. Better that the entity takes responsibility for its employees and students and fixes its own problems in-house, instead of waiting for the NCAA to come around and slap wrists. I suppose there is an argument that only some schools can afford this type of action ($920k and $477k are two cost figures cited), but I think it's a matter of incentive. Schools that don't generate huge revenues from their athletic programs have less incentive to prevent NCAA sanctions, and are probably less likely to have a problem with violations, since their programs are smaller.
The article cites potential ethical violations because the lawyers heading the investigations are former NCAA officials. I don't really see a conflict--lawyers switch sides all the time, as long as they're not trading on work product or client secrets I don't see how this is a problem. In fact, it seems like an innovative way to control costs for the client while still making rain for the firm.