Journal of NCAA Compliance


FROM THE EDITOR

The Center for Law and Sports at Florida Coastal School of Law is pleased to announce its new publication, The Journal of NCAA Compliance. The Journal will be comprised of essays written by Coastal Law students containing detailed summaries of the latest NCAA compliance rulings as well as short articles on contemporary issues in NCAA compliance. It will also occasionally feature outside articles authored by athletic department compliance staff. Compliance departments across the country have provided and continue to provide Coastal Law students and graduates with invaluable internship experiences, and the Journal serves a unique educational purpose for Coastal Law students enrolled in the sports certificate program. The Journal is an online publication that will publish six issues annually, one issue every two months.

The inaugural issue (March-April) is being provided to you herewith on a complimentary basis. For information on how you or your school can subscribe, please direct all inquiries to Hackney Publications.

March-April 2009

In This Issue

Articles

News Briefs

NCAA Places Coastal Carolina on Probation

On October 17, 2008, officials from Coastal CarolinaUniversity appeared before the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions with the task of addressing allegations against the university. The case concerned impermissible financial aid violations involving the former women's head golf coach of seven years, Brian Ashley, and two student-athletes. Accompanying the penalty was a finding of unethical conduct against Ashley due to the nature of his violations and his refusal to cooperate with the investigation. On December 17, 2008, the Coastal Carolina's women's golf program was penalized by the Committee for major violations of the NCAA Division I bylaws.

BACKGROUND ON ASHLEY AND COASTAL CAROLINA

Coastal Carolina is a member of the Big South Conference and has an enrollment of approximately 8,000 students. Coastal Carolina sponsors seventeen intercollegiate sports which include eight men's sports and nine women's sports. Coastal Carolina had only been a party to a major infractions case once before in 1994, wherein the men's basketball program was penalized.

Brian Ashley led Coastal Carolina to the Big South Conference Championship during the 2004-2005 academic year. The 2004-2005 year was the program's very first appearance in the NCAA postseason tournament. Before arriving to Coastal Carolina, Ashley served as the head men and women's golf coach at Gardner-Webb University during the 1999-2000 academic year. Ashley led the women's golf team to a national ranking of 7th in NCAA Division II rankings.

VIOLATIONS

The Committee's report found that during the 2007-2008 academic year, Ashley, who resigned from Coastal Carolina in December 2007, provided improper financial aid to two student-athletes on the women's golf team. The initial violation found was that Ashley provided a freshman student-athlete ("SA1") with $500.00 in cash with the intention to cover university board expenses from the middle of August through October 2007. Further, in October of 2007, Ashley provided $100 in cash to a graduate assistant within instructions to pay a student-athlete's ("SA2") outstanding account balance for the fall 2007 semester.

During the recruiting process in 2006 and 2007, Ashley made an oral promise to SA1 and her parents that she would receive a full scholarship, including room and board. A full scholarship at the NCAA Division I level includes tuition, fees, room, board and books. Ashley also told SA1 and her parents that she may or may not receive academic aid. Upon arriving at Coastal Carolina, SA1 signed an athletics grant-in-aid agreement per the NCAA Division I bylaws. The agreement provided for a total estimated athletic scholarship of $9,910.00. At CoastalCarolina University a full athletics grant-in-aid agreement totals $24,570. There was a vast discrepancy between what Ashley orally promised and what the scholarship actually provided to SA1. Prior to the 2007-2008 academic year, the value of the grant-in-aid was increased to provide for a total of $13,940.00. However, the room and board promised was never delivered. There were no board payments and the grant-in-aid only partially covered the cost of room. Therefore, the oral promise that SA1 would receive a full scholarship barely amounted to what could be considered a half-scholarship and her parents ultimately paid the difference.

Ashley's oral promise made during the recruiting process stemmed from the fact that, during the 2007-2008 academic year, Ashley believed there would be a possibility that another student-athlete ("SA3") would not be returning for the 2007-2008 academic year. At the time the oral promise was made, SA3 was receiving a full grant-in-aid. Therefore, Ashley believed that he would have the available scholarship moneys. Ashley's statement that there may or may not be academic aid available stemmed from the fact that Ashley knew that SA3 may return, and he wanted to assure SA1 that there would be available money in the form of an academic scholarship.

To SA1's detriment, SA3 returned unexpectedly for the fall 2007 semester. The unexpected return of SA3 meant that SA1 would not be awarded the additional athletics aid orally promised by Ashley to make her grant-in-aid full. During the fall, SA1 repeatedly asked Ashley about the additional money but to no avail.

In the early fall, Ashley provided SA1 with $500 in cash associated with the costs of living through the month of October. Ashley falsely notified SA1 that the grant-in-aid issue had been resolved and that the athletics business office could not make payment in the form of a check at that time. Ashley eventually provided the $500 to SA1 after repeated questioning by SA1 about the oral promise made to her during recruiting.

In the late fall, SA1 went by the athletics department business office to inquire about the stipend check for November. A compliance officer was present in the business office and upon consulting the department records; the business office manager informed SA1 that she was not on the list to receive a stipend check. The compliance officer then inquired about why SA1 thought she would be receiving a stipend check. At that time, SA1 told the compliance officer and business manager about the oral promises and the $500 impermissible payment. Soon thereafter, an internal inquiry began.

The second violation found involved another member of the women's golf team. In that instance, Ashley provided a graduate assistant of the women's golf team with $100 in cash. Ashley then instructed the graduate assistant to take the cash and pay off SA2's outstanding account balance. The outstanding account balance in question was $95. The graduate assistant then took the $100 and paid off the outstanding balance and returned the change back to Ashley.

The situation surrounding SA2 began during the first two academic years at Coastal Carolina. Ashley had also promised SA2 a full scholarship to Coastal Carolina in exchange for her commitment to compete for the Coastal Carolina. Unlike the situation with SA1, Ashley fulfilled his promise of a full scholarship. The student-athlete's athletic scholarship and in-state 'Palmetto Grant' provided all the funding promised by Ashley and conformed to her grant-in-aid agreement. The next academic year, however, led to an increase of $95 dollars in the tuition costs, which led to the second violation. The head coach is responsible for indicating any increases in athletic aid that a student-athlete might receive. Ashley, however, failed to make an increase in SA2's grant-in-aid for the 2007-2008 academic year. Therefore, her account balance became outstanding by $95 and led to the second violation by Ashley.

COMMITTEE FINDINGS

The Committee found Ashley's conduct to be troubling in many aspects concerning the NCAA Division I bylaws. Among the conduct that the found troubling was the fact that Ashley violated the well-known financial aid rules. The financial aid rules concerning impermissible financial aid is located in the NCAA Division I bylaws as: 15.01.2 (Improper Financial Aid), 15.01.3 (Financial Aid Not Administered by Institution), 15.2.6.4.2 (Eligibility Effects of Improper Aid from Outside Organization) and 15.3.2.3 (Written Statement Requirement).

Further, Ashley allowed a graduate assistant become involved in the violation by providing the impermissible funds to the graduate assistant to pay off the outstanding account balance.

Third, Ashley was found to have violated the NCAA's cooperative principle by refusing to agree to a second interview with the NCAA Enforcement staff. Ashley did not file a written response to the notice of allegations nor did he attend the hearing held on October 17, 2008. Ashley did, however, explain his position in regards to the aforementioned violations in an interview with the institution in 2007 and in an interview with the NCAA enforcement staff in 2008. Following these interviews, Ashley refused to further cooperate with the NCAA which constitutes unethical conduct under NCAA Division I bylaw 10.1. The Committee agreed that Ashley knowingly "acted contrary to the principles of ethical conduct, inasmuch as he did not deport himself in accordance with the generally recognized high standards of honesty and sportsmanship with the conduct and administration of intercollegiate athletics." Therefore, he knowingly was involved in arranging and providing impermissible financial aid, contrary to the rules set out in bylaw 15, to SA1 and SA2.

Finally, the Committee found that Ashley could have potentially compromised the well-being of both student-athletes. With regards to both SA1 and SA2, Ashley allowed the student-athletes to be placed in a situation in which their tuition costs exceeded what was promised by their grant-in-aid agreements. However, not only was their financial situation in jeopardy but their eligibility could have been called into question as well.

INVOLVED PENALTIES

Because of the degree of the violations the Committee determined that this case involved major violation of the bylaws. The Committee recommended three penalties stemming from the violations by Ashley and Coastal Carolina. In order to determine the appropriate penalties the Committee considers an institution's self-imposed penalties and any corrective actions taken by parties within the institution.

The Committee determined that Coastal Carolina "self-discovered" the violations and its investigation was thorough, meeting its obligation under the cooperative principle. However, the violations of the bylaws were committed by Ashley; there were two separate findings of unethical conduct; and two students were unknowingly involved. The Committee noted that because the case included two ineligible student-athletes they could have imposed a vacation of records, but SA1 did not finish high enough to have points to vacate and the payment to SA2 was under $100, not rendering her ineligible. Finally, Coastal Carolina was commended on their self-discovery of the violations and its quick actions to investigate. However, the following penalties were imposed: (1) public reprimand and censure; (2) two years probation and (3) show-cause order against Ashley.

The first penalty is very commonly used by the NCAA and involves public reprimand and censure of all parties involved in the case. On July 16, 2008, the Committee penalized Texas Southern University in a case very similar to Coastal Carolina's. There, the case, like Coastal Carolina, involved violations of impermissible benefits and financial aid and unethical conduct. Part of the Committee's penalty included public reprimand and censure. Likewise, as far back as 1991, HowardUniversity's penalty included public reprimand for violation of the financial aid bylaws. The goal of public reprimand and censure is to deter member institutions from receiving negative press which directly affects enrollment and the recruiting process. However, most member institutions treat this as a slap on the hand compared to the more effective penalties, which follow.

The second penalty levied requires Coastal Carolina to be on two years of probation beginning December 17, 2008 and ending on December 16,2010. During the probation period, Coastal Carolina is ordered to adhere to three standards. First, Coastal Carolina is to "continue to develop and implement a comprehensive education program on NCAA legislation, including seminars and testing, to instruct the coaches, the faculty athletics representative, all athletics department personnel and all institutional staff members with responsibility for the certification of student-athletes for admission, financial aid or competition." Second, the institution was to submit a preliminary report to the office of the Committee by February15, 2009, providing a schedule for establishing this compliance and education program. Finally, Coastal Carolina will be required to file an annual compliance report showing the progress made within this program to the Committee by October 1 each year during the probationary period. The Committee recommended that emphasis should be placed on the monitoring of financial aid and education of coaches and administrators. The report must include the institution's compliance with the penalties adopted and imposed by the Committee. Finally, upon the conclusion of the probationary period, Coastal Carolina's president "shall provide a letter to the committee affirming that the institution's current athletics policies and practices conform to all requirements of NCAA regulations."

While a reasonable person may perceive this penalty a bit excessive for a violation that involved an arguable nominal amount of money, the Committee might be trying to send a message to institutions that have not learned from others mistakes. The case law that relates to violations of the financial aid bylaws does not paint a clear picture when it comes to the time limits imposed for their violation. The penalties range anywhere from 0 years (West Virginia University) to 5 years (BaylorUniversity), where the 0 year penalty occurred back in 1995 and the 5 year penalty was handed down more recently in 2005. It if safe to assume that as the years have gone by and the violations have become more widespread and rampant, the Committee is trying to set precedent by increasing the number of years of probation for major violations that involve slightly lesser violations than those of their counterparts in the early to mid 90's.

For example, in the West Virginia case in 1995, the head coach paid over $19,000 for impermissible tuition and off-campus housing. However, the penalty for probation was 0 years. Further, in a more recent case that involved BaylorUniversity in 2000, the head coach directed three post-eligible men's tennis student-athletes to make payments toward rent expenses to two current student-athletes. As a result one former student-athlete paid a total of $850 and another former student-athlete paid a total of $225. In that case, the Committee assessed a penalty of 2 years probation for the institution. The trend has been to crack down on even "minor" major violations in order to deter schools away from major violations of the financial aid bylaws.

The third and final penalty was directed at Ashley. The Committee issued a 30-month show-cause order beginning December 17, 2008 and ending June 16, 2011.  A show-cause order typically requires that if an institution wants to hire a show-cause head coach during the probationary timetable, they may do so only with permission of the NCAA Committee. However, the institution hiring the coach would be susceptible to any sanctions for their choice of coaches. The list of possible sanctions include: loss of athletic scholarships, loss of revenue from school not wanting to compete with the institution, television rights and recruiting and practice time restrictions. Sanctions would be proper, for example, when any further violations were discovered after the institution had hired the head coach. Ultimately, a show-cause order makes it extremely difficult for a coach to be hired at another institution.

In this case, the Committee was very detailed and specific in what Ashley could or could not do and any repercussions for noncompliance with the order. During the entire show-cause period, Ashley is "prohibited from engaging in any off-campus recruiting activities or interactions with prospective student-athletes (or their parents or legal guardians) prior to their first full-time enrollment at any employing institution and whether or not they have signed a National Letter of Intent, accepted an offer of financial aid, or are recruited by the institution . . ." In addition to the prohibited recruitment activities, Ashley must attend a yearly NCAA Regional Rules Seminar. And within one month of the seminar, Ashley must provide the Director of the Committee a list of the session attended attached to his certification of attendance. However, Ashley is not the only party that will face strict scrutiny as a result of the show-cause order.

According to the Committee, an institution that intends to employ Ashley during the time the penalties are in effect shall have to submit a report to the Director of the Committee no later than 30 days after its first employment of Ashley. The report filed "shall set forth the employing institution's understanding and acceptance of the above-listed penalties that are in effect at the time of initial employment and its responsibilities to monitor compliance." In addition, the report must also set forth how the hiring institution intends to monitor the conduct of Ashley to assure strict compliance with the penalties levied. Then, every six months after the initial report, a supplemental report must be filed that continues to document the monitoring of Ashley. Finally, at the end show-cause period or upon termination of Ashley, whichever occurs first, the president of the employing institution "shall provide a letter to the committee affirming that the penalties were complied with during the time of employment at the employing institution."

Although the requirements on the hiring university may seem a bit farfetched, they are essential safeguards to protect not only the employing institution but also the NCAA. Kelvin Sampson, formerly of the University of Indiana and University ofOklahoma, demonstrates how a show-cause order places such a burden on the employing institution. While at Oklahoma, Sampson was found to have committed violations of the bylaws and those penalties carried over with him to Indiana. Indiana was shouldered with the burden of taking on those penalties associated with hiring Sampson, but viewed the risk as minimal. However, during his tenure, Sampson was once again found guilty of bylaw violations and faced further penalties. Indiana bore the brunt of the fallout and soon parted ways with Sampson to the school's detriment.

The show-cause order attributed to Ashley seems to be right in line with the past and recent case law concerning show-cause orders. A similar penalty was assessed in

2005, when the former University of Nebraska head wrestling coach violated at least ten bylaws, which included: findings of impermissible financial aid; impermissible recruiting inducement and unethical conduct, among others. The former head coach was given a 36-month show-cause order in that case. A more extreme show-cause order was handed down to a former Baylor basketball head coach in 2005. The former head coach as given a 120-month show-cause order for violations which included: impermissible benefits; impermissible inducements; impermissible financial assistance to prospective student-athletes and unethical conduct, among others. The most likely explanation for the length of the show-cause order results from the finding of academic fraud and lack of institutional control. Looking at the case law and the relative extremes they present, Ashley's punishment was directly in line with the penalties given to former head coaches.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, the Coastal Carolina case represents the Committee's continuing trend of assessing even "minor" major violations with tougher penalties in order to deter future violations.

Stefanos is a third-year student at Florida Coastal School of Law.

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NCAA Finds Salem International UniversityViolated of Rules

The NCAA Division II Committee on Infractions recently issued its ruling and subsequent punishment of Salem International.

Background

Salem International University is a Division II school located in West Virginia sponsoring six men’s and seven women’s intercollegiate sports teams. On November 21, 2008, Salem International University took two major hits from the NCAA Division II Committee on Infractions: lack of institutional control and failure to monitor. The committee found these violations, stretching as far back as the 2002-2003 school year, based on the university allowing ineligible student athletes to participate in university athletics; failure of the university to properly track student athlete work hours, countable hours and squad lists; and involvement of an assistant basketball coach in out-of-season games with team members in addition to other secondary violations. This was the university’s first major infractions case.

First, the university allowed sixteen student athletes in five separate sports to participate in university athletics (including practice, compete and receive athletics-related financial aid) while ineligible. There were four major reasons for the student-athletes’ ineligibility: (1) failure to progress towards a degree (five students); (2) enrollment in less than full-time (one student); (3) failure to complete an academic year in residence (seven students); and (4) competition beyond the tenth semester or fourth season (two students).

For the five students who were ineligible for failure to progress toward degree, the problem was the result of low cumulative grade point averages. One student, who transferred with fifty credit hours, earned zero credits (a 0.00 GPA) during the fall semester and was allowed to compete during the winter semester. Other students were ineligible due to cumulative grade-point averages of 1.96 after 96 credit hours, 1.70 after 44 credit hours, 1.64 after 60 credit hours, and 1.97 after 124.75 credit hours, yet they were still allowed to compete.

Seven student athletes were ineligible as non-qualifiers, partial qualifiers or transfer students for failure to complete a year in residence. Two of these student athletes were non-qualifiers fulfilling an academic year of residence, but were permitted to practice and travel with the team despite not attending the respective two-year institution for at least two semesters as full-time students. Two non-qualifiers were permitted to practice and travel with the men’s basketball team during their academic year of residence. One partial qualifier was permitted to travel with the basketball team while fulfilling an academic year of residence. Of the two remaining athletes, both transfers, one was a partial qualifier fulfilling an academic year of residence after failure to graduate from a two-year institution or complete an average of at least twelve credit hours with a cumulative GPA of 2.0 and the second student athlete was a non-qualifier permitted to practice and compete despite failing to complete an academic year of residence after transferring with only four transferable academic credit hours.

The university also allowed two student athletes to compete beyond the allowable 10th semester of collegiate enrollment. These two students were allowed to compete during their 13th and 11th semesters, respectively.

Second, the university failed to keep accurate records. The university was found to have failed to accurately track student athlete work hours resulting in payment by federal work-study money of six soccer student athletes for work not performed. The university instituted its own investigation in March 2003 of student-athletes employed by the head soccer coach (who coached both men’s and women’s teams). Through investigation of the student-athletes’ timesheets and interviews with the student-athletes, the university found that two of the student-athletes estimated working between ten and fifteen hours per month, but claimed fifty hours or more. Another student claimed 64 hours on his February timesheet but admitted to working once or twice that month. Three additional interviewed soccer student athletes described their timesheets are “grossly inaccurate,” “worked way less,” and admitted to occasionally including additional hours. The university argued at the infraction committee hearing that the evidence from its investigation did not prove that the soccer student-athletes were paid for work not performed. The committee found the violations did occur based on the statements of the six student-athletes and the admission by the head soccer coach that he was unable to monitor the work-study students because the students worked on- and off-campus, lack of set schedules, and the unstructured nature of the work-study program on campus. Perhaps the more curious portion of this infraction was the university, after discovering the above infractions through their own diligence in March 2003, then allowed all six of these athletes to compete during the Fall 2003 season without declaring them ineligible or requesting reinstatement of their eligibility. The only action taken as a result of the on-campus investigation was the university issuing a formal letter of discipline to the head soccer coach. No remedial action was taken regarding the six student athletes who were paid for work not performed.

The university also failed to do other required record-keeping. The university failed to maintain accurate squad lists prior to competition during the 2005-2006 and 2007-2008 academic years, neglecting to include four student-athletes on the appropriate squad lists before competition in 2005-2006 and one student-athlete in 2007-2008. Also, the university failed to record accurate countable hours during the 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 academic years for men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s tennis, women’s soccer and softball, and four teams not recording any hours for either of the two years. Records for the university’s other teams were sporadic during the same time.

Third, the university allowed its men’s basketball coaching staff to observe and participate in out of season games with members of the university’s men’s basketball team. This included occasional observance of pick-up games by the head coach and more frequently (two or three times per week) the assistant coach participating in recreational basketball games with basketball team members. These violations occurred from 2003 through 2007. While the university director of athletics became aware of these violations during 2004-2005, he failed to investigate or report these violations to the NCAA.

Violations

There are two types of NCAA Division II violations, major and secondary. Secondary violations are isolated or inadvertent in nature, provide only minimal competitive or other advantages and do not include any significant recruiting inducement or extra benefit. Major violations constitute all violations other than secondary violations and specifically include those giving substantial recruiting or competitive advantage. Salem International was found to have multiple major and secondary violations.

The Committee on Infractions found Salem International violated several articles of the NCAA Constitution, including 2.1.1 (Responsibility for Control), 2.8.1 (Responsibility of Institution), and 6.01.1 (Institutional Control). Salem International violated article 2.1.1 by not “control[ling] its intercollegiate athletics program in compliance with the rules and regulations of the Association.” Article 2.8.1 requires schools to monitor its athletics program to ensure compliance and report any violations to the NCAA. Article 6.01.1 requires institutional control over intercollegiate athletics be exercised by each individual school, where institutional control is comprised of administrative or faculty control or some combination of the two. All three of these rules constitute major infractions if violated, which consequently, carry greater penalties than secondary infractions. Salem International, through allowing ineligible student-athletes to compete, failure to report known violations, and various other infractions, was found to lack institutional control and in violation of all three of these NCAA constitution articles.

Major Infractions

On November 24, 2008, the NCAA Division II Committee on Infractions found the university guilty of several violations including: lack of viable campus-wide compliance system; lack of clearly identified compliance officer; lack of systems to prevent violations; failure to report known violations; and failure to provide a rules education program. These violations, in total, lead to the committee finding that the university lacked institutional control and failed to monitor its athletics program.

The lack of a campus-wide compliance system operated by persons with appropriate knowledge and training lead to some of the violations according to the committee. There was a lack of a clearly identified compliance officer during extended periods between the 2003 and 2007 academic years. University coaches and administrators disagreed considerably as to who was the compliance officer, or if any existed at all during certain periods. There was little to no agreement in the athletics program regarding who was responsible for compliance.

The university also failed to establish a system to prevent violations. There was a lack of systems to certify eligibility, and those attempting to certify eligibility lacked the education to competently and effectively do the job. The university also suffered from high job turnover in compliance leading to a lack of established certification procedures. Lack of established procedures contributed to the failure to monitor student-athlete employment, maintain squad lists and track countable hours. The system further failed in excluding key administrators from the certification process, including the registrar and faculty-athletics representatives.

The university did not provide any NCAA rules education program. Administrators and staff did not receive appropriate rules education on-campus, nor did they attend any off-campus NCAA education development opportunities like the annual seminars. Additionally, the university failed to report violations when they became known, or should have been known.

In sum, through a lack of preventative procedures and a crippled compliance system with no established procedures, continuity of staff, or continuing education, the university allowed ineligible student-athletes to compete in intercollegiate competition. Allowing these ineligible student-athletes to compete lead to the Committee on Infractions’ finding that Salem International University lacked institutional control and failed to monitor the athletics program.

Secondary Infractions

The Committee on Infractions also found three secondary violations by the University. First, the former head baseball coach being allowed to play in a summer league with a current student-athlete and a prospective student-athlete. Second, a women’s volleyball student-athlete was awarded financial aid for women’s basketball despite not being a member of that team. Finally, the former men’s basketball assistant coached allowed several student-athletes to make personal calls on his office phone.

Available Penalties for Violations

Penalties available for both secondary and major violations include: vacation of all contests in which ineligible student-athletes competed; prohibition on recruiting for a specified period; institutional fine; reduction in athletics financial aid awards; public reprimand; and institutional recertification. Penalties can also be taken against staff members involved in the violation and include reassignment, suspension without pay, suspension from competitions, termination, and/or a show-cause penalty.

Including all the above penalties, major violations can be penalized through at least one year of probation; team/individual ineligibility for invitational tournaments and postseason play (including NCAA championships), prohibition of the team from all competition, and ineligibility of the institution to vote or serve on NCAA committees. Thus, every penalty imposed on Salem International is explicitly provided for in the NCAA Constitution as an appropriate remedy for rule violation and, in fact, are commonly awarded penalties for violations of this magnitude.

Penalties Imposed

The Committee on Infractions instituted the following penalties for the above major and secondary violations:

  • public reprimand/censure;
  • 3 years probation;
  • vacation of all contests in which ineligible student-athletes competed;
  • a reduction in athletics financial aid for the 2009-2010 academic year in men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball and women’s golf;
  • external review of compliance system for first year of probation; and
  • forfeiture of per diem reimbursed for participation in Division II men’s basketball tournament.

The Committee also mandated the university take the following actions:

  • hire a full-time athletics director and compliance officer;
  • identify the specific individuals who oversee compliance; and
  • develop a comprehensive educational program on NCAA legislation.

Companion Cases

Two other Division II athletics infraction decision are helpful in evaluating the penalties imposed on Salem International. Those decisions involve the University of Central Oklahoma and Lane College, both of which were decided in February 2008, nine months prior to the Salem International decision.

The Division II Committee on Infractions found the University of Central Oklahoma had failed to monitor its athletics program, lacked institutional control and specifically cited its former head football coach for unethical conduct violations. These findings were premised on major and secondary violations based upon recruitment violations, benefits given to prospective student-athletes, the lack of a viable compliance system and the willful unethical conduct by the former head football coach (in encouraging student-athletes to lie to NCAA investigators and condoning violations committed by his assistants). The penalties for these violations were: public reprimand and censure; three years of probation; a reduction of two football scholarships for 2007-2008 and four scholarships for 2008-2010; a two-year show-cause order for the former head football coach; and the football team is ineligible to appear in any telecast from 2008-2010.

Unlike Salem International, the former head football coach at Central Oklahoma actively engaged in prohibited behavior through his recruitment activities and engaged in unethical conduct in pressuring student-athletes to lie to investigators. While these violations seem more egregious due to the intent to commit violations, the violations were confined to the football program at Central Oklahoma. Comparing the penalties for Central Oklahoma and Salem International, both received public reprimand, three years probation, and a reduction of athletics financial aid for involved sports. All three of these penalties can be tied to the violation of lack of institutional control and/or failure to monitor the athletics program. Also, both schools allowed ineligible student-athletes to compete in intercollegiate competition. This factor was specifically mentioned in the Salem International case as a basis for finding lack of institutional control.

The penalties for the two schools differ in other innocuous ways. In addition to the above penalties, Central Oklahoma’s former football coach was given a two-year show-cause penalty and the football team was prohibited from telecast for two years. No show-cause penalty was instituted against Salem International, nor were any teams prohibited from telecast. And while Salem International was given neither of those penalties, it was required to submit to external compliance review during its first year of probation and required to forfeit money amassed from participation in the Division II men’s basketball tournament. These penalty variations are easily connected to the differences in violations by the two schools. Most of Salem International’s violations stemmed from an inappropriate compliance system, not from willful violation of NCAA rules. Most of Oklahoma’s violations stemmed from the conduct of its former head football coach and included intentional rule violation by him.

Thus, both schools were found to lack institutional control and failed to monitor their athletics programs and, accordingly, the penalties contain many similarities. Where the foundations for the violations differ, so do the penalties.

The second comparable Division II decision was against Lane College. The Division II Committee on Infractions found Lane College guilty of a number of major violations over several years and found those violations taken together constituted a lack of institutional control and failure to monitor the athletics program. These findings were based on Lane College’s failure to establish and maintain a viable compliance system; allowing ineligible student-athletes to compete in intercollegiate competition; failure to report known violations; keeping incorrect squad lists; and the total lack of any compliance staff. The penalties for these violations were: public reprimand and censure; four years of probation; vacation of all wins where ineligible student-athletes competed; reduction in available scholarships; prohibition of telecasting; and the former athletics director was given a four-year show-cause penalty.

Lane College’s and Salem International’s cases possess very similar qualities. Both schools were found guilty of the same violations, namely the lack of institutional control and failure to monitor the athletics program. For both schools, the violations were on findings of: inept compliance systems, allowing ineligible student-athletes to compete, not reporting violations, incorrect squad lists and lack of compliance staff. There were significant divergences, however. Lane College allowed thirty-two ineligible student-athletes to compete in intercollegiate athletics compared to Salem International’s sixteen. Lane College allowed forty-eight student-athletes from seven sports to compete without including them on the appropriate squad list, while Salem International only neglected to include five student-athletes on the squad lists. Thus, while the violations of the two schools are similar, the pervasiveness of them at each institution is not.

The violations are, unsurprisingly, also similar. Both schools were given public reprimands, probation, required to vacate all contests in which ineligible student-athletes competed, and had their athletics scholarships reduced. Like Central Oklahoma however, Lane College’s former athletics director was given a show-cause penalty, but of four years compared to Central Oklahoma’s two. Lane College, like Central Oklahoma, was prohibited from telecast opportunities for a two-year period. Neither of these two school had the penalties of forfeiture of tournament reimbursement nor external review of their compliance systems like Salem International.

In conclusion, Salem International received penalties expressly provided for in the NCAA constitution and by-laws for its violations of lack of institutional control and failure to monitor its athletics programs. The penalties are also in keeping with other Division II Committee on Infraction decisions for similar violations. Where the penalties against Salem International University differ is consistent with the unique circumstances of its particular violations.

Manners is a third-year student at Florida Coastal School of Law.

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Alabama State University Avoids Death Penalty in Infractions Case

The NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions penalized AlabamaState University for major and secondary violations in its athletics programs

Background

In 2002, a former football assistant coach, known as coach B, provided AlabamaState with a letter describing allegations that the University had committed various NCAA violations. The University proceeded to conduct an internal investigation which over the course of several years led the NCAA committee on infractions to issue several penalties against the school and the football program. The penalties included a lengthy probationary period due to the large amount of violations and an ineffective compliance program. The committee found that the ineffective compliance program played a significant contribution to the large amount of violations that included academic fraud, impermissible recruiting and impermissible benefits discovered throughout the investigation. Ultimately, the lack of institutional oversight and education of NCAA bylaws led to the committee's conclusion that Alabama State exhibited a lack of institutional control.

Alabama StateUniversity survived a two and a half year investigation by the NCAA DI committee on infractions into violations by the University, its football program, and its football coaches. By the end of the multi-year investigation the University had already self-imposed corrective measures upon its compliance and football programs. The self-imposed measures included a probationary period of 2 academic years, education regarding recruiting legislation, and unannounced audits. In addition to adopting the self-imposed penalties implemented by the University, the NCAA committee instituted its own list of punishments. Since, the investigation was so prolonged most of the institutionally imposed restrictions had been served by the time the report was published. It appears that based on the large number of infractions and what the infractions consisted of, mainly academic fraud, impermissible benefits and recruiting, the NCAA wanted to send a message that the lack of institutional control exhibited by Alabama State was unacceptable. The NCAA imposed penalties included; a forfeiture of seasons, championships, individual records, counters, financial aid, total amount of official visits and probation until the year 2013.

Not since Southern Methodist University in 1987 has the NCAA infractions committee implemented the infamous "death penalty" upon a school. While the infractions by Alabama State could have warranted this measure, the committee chose not to implement it after witnessing the devastating consequences the penalties had on Southern Methodist and its football program. As former University of Florida President John Lombari once stated:

SMU taught the committee [infractions committee] that the death penalty is too much like the nuclear bomb. It's like what happened after we dropped the (atom) bomb in World War II. The results were so catastrophic that now we'll do anything to avoid dropping another one."

What is the "death penalty" and why didn't it apply to AlabamaState? The so-called "death penalty" is the term used for institutions that have repeating violations over a short period of time. When the NCAA infractions committee imposes penalties so severe it cripples the violating athletic program so much that the program takes years to recover, the effect becomes known as the "death penalty." The Bylaw that corresponds to this punishment is known as "Repeat-Violator Penalties." This punishment described in the bylaw can be imposed on an institution if, during a five- year period a major violation occurs after the announcement of a major case and the reoccurring violation occurred within the five years after the first violation's penalty was given. Part of the mandatory punishment for a repeat-violator is the loss of all grant-in-aids and recruiting activities for the sport involved for a total of two years. Furthermore, the bylaw imposes a prohibition on all coaching staff having indirect or direct involvement with coaching activities for one to two sports seasons combined with a prohibition on some or all outside competition for the sport involved in the violation. SMU was also prohibited from outside competition for a full year and then limited to a certain amount of away games that were not televised the next year. The combination of these punishments became known as the "death penalty."

The "death penalty" was given to Southern Methodist University in 1987 due to various violations stemming from 1985 for violations within the football program. The violations found at SMU include over $61,000 in extra cash benefits from athletics staff members and outside representatives to student-athletes. Based on these cash benefits, the fact that SMU was already on probation at the time of the investigation from a previous violation, lied about the cash incentives provided by an outside source, and the overall design of the football program to gain a competitive edge against the competition by cheating, caused the NCAA to impose the unique punishment of the "death penalty" upon the school. Alabama State University, much in part to the tragic effect of the death penalty imposed on SMU and its football program and presumably its lack of a competitive edge by the violations, escaped such a catastrophic fate when the committee on infractions found several major and secondary violations of NCAA bylaws and determined that the violations were in response to an "admitted systemic lack of institutional control" by the institution. While the committee did establish strict penalties, the University, acknowledging its own malfeasance, also self-imposed restrictions upon the athletics department that the committee, unlike in the SMU case, approved of and adopted.  

Findings

The discoveries of secondary and major infractions are a part of the overall conclusion that AlabamaState exhibited a lack of institutional control. Factors that contributed to that conclusion include an ineffective compliance program, a failure on the part of the football coaching staff to report violations to the institution, and a failure by the head football coach to monitor various situations concerning the activities of staff members within his program.

Among the various infractions discovered by the committee were academic fraud, recruitment and eligibility violations, and financial aid violations. These were found to be major violations which ultimately led the Committee to conclude that Alabama State University failed to exercise institutional control. A lack of institutional control is defined by the NCAA Constitution in Article 2, "Principles for Conduct of Intercollegiate Athletics." Institutional control is defined as, "the responsibility of each member institution to control its intercollegiate athletics program in compliance with the rules and regulations of the Association. The institution's president or chancellor is responsible for the administration of all aspects of the athletics program, including approval of the budget and audit of all expenditures. The lack of oversight on the actions of the football coaches, their recruiting practices and expenditures demonstrates an example of an overall lack of institutional control exhibited by Alabama State. The constitution further states, that "the responsibility for the conduct of its intercollegiate athletics program includes responsibility for the actions of its staff members and for the actions of any other individual or organization engaged in activities promoting the athletics interest of the institution." The responsibility of the institution for its intercollegiate athletics program is best demonstrated by the lack of responsibility exhibited by AlabamaState when over the course of six years institutional staff members were able to change the grades of multiple football student-athletes in order for the athletes to be eligible for competition.

Violations

Academic fraud was discovered by the committee during the academic years of 1999-2005 when eight football student-athletes had their grades changed by institutional staff members in order for the players to remain eligible for competition. The fact that the staff members changed the grades without authorization from the course instructors and/or the institution's administrators led to a finding by the committee that this infraction was a component of a lack of institutional control. According to the NCAA Bylaws, Section 14 on Eligibility, an "institution shall not permit a student-athlete to represent it in intercollegiate athletics competition unless the student-athlete meets all applicable eligibility requirements, and the institution has certified the student-athlete's eligibility." Applicable eligibility requirements include good academic standing with progress toward a degree, compliance with the institution's guidelines, and valid academic credentials. AlabamaState implemented a policy that stated if the student-athlete has "two consecutive semesters with a GPA of 1.5 or below, he or she is placed on academic probation and is ineligible for athletics participation." Because the grade changes were executed by the staff members without proper authorization, the student-athletes were able to meet eligibility standards set by the NCAA and Alabama State.

The principle behind eligibility standards according to the NCAA Constitution in Article 2, is to "assure proper emphasis on education objectives, to promote competitive equity among institutions and to prevent exploitation of student-athletes." By intentionally changing failing grades in order to allow ineligible student-athletes the opportunity to compete, the staff member not only violated the Principles of Eligibility described by the NCAA Constitution, but also since the President of an institution is ultimately responsible for the actions of the university and its staff, the committee was able to establish that Alabama State University exhibited a lack of institutional control.

The committee also discovered a major violation concerning impermissible recruiting of prospective student-athletes. During several years, ranging from 2000-2002, seven football student-athletes and six prospective football student-athletes were found to have engaged in impermissible benefits and inducements in the form of on and off-campus housing, meals and utilities. The committee found based on these occurrences that the actions were another component of the lack of institutional control. From the actions of the coaching staff and the circumstances of this infraction the committee was further able to conclude that the former head coach failed to monitor his staff while the football coaching staff failed to report these violations to the institution. The committee found that on several occasions the coaching staff assisted in three of the prospective student-athletes and one student-athlete's acquiring the impermissible housing and meals. The encouragement of prospective-student athletes to move to the vicinity of the University from the football coach and his staff, in addition to the failure to follow up with the athletes' living and monetary situation contributed to the finding by the Committee that the former head coach failed to monitor his staff. This finding was exacerbated by the fact that the head coach had experience with an infractions case but failed yet again to take the necessary steps in order to insure the football program's compliance with the rules of the NCAA.

Another major violation that dealt with impermissible benefits given to prospective student-athletes and student-athletes involved in the football program was the use of the University's long distance telephone codes. The code was given to both prospects and student-athletes by a former assistant football coach and other football student-athletes. With knowledge of the code the athletes were able to make long distance phone calls from various locations, including residence halls and the training room, several times a week to family and friends at no cost. The problem with the telephone calls was that the access code was given to institutional employees for the purpose of business-related phone calls and each employee was provided with specific instructions to keep the codes confidential. The committee came to the conclusion based on at least one former assistant football coach giving out the code, that it was an impermissible use of the code and was yet another component of the lack of institutional control exhibited by AlabamaState.

Recruiting guidelines concerning prospective student-athletes are strict for the protection of the prospective student-athlete, and if violated result in penalties imposed on not only the institution but also the student-athlete. A violation of the recruitment of a student-athlete results in the athlete becoming ineligible to represent the institution in that respective sport. Furthermore, the student-athlete is responsible for his or her own involvement in the violation during their recruitment. The housing, meals and utilities provided by the University to the six prospective student-athletes and seven student-athletes, along with the use of the restricted long distance codes, are obvious impermissible benefits and a clear violation of the recruiting bylaws concerning student- athletes. While the Bylaws state in Article 16 that restitution can be used for the student-athlete's receipt of impermissible benefits and the eligibility of the student-athlete will not be affected, provided however, that the student-athlete repays the value of the benefit received is donated to a charity, this section cannot be applied for the benefits received by the student-athletes and prospective student-athletes from Alabama State. Restitution is permitted when the benefit is for one hundred ($100) dollars or less and with free housing, meals and utilities for thirteen individual athletes, plus countless long distance phone bills, the amount is clearly in excess of that threshold. While the committee officially found that some of the impermissible inducements during official and unofficial visits given to the prospective athlete by the student host were only a secondary violation, it is another example of the lack of institutional control through the failure of the coaching staff to report violations to the institution. In this case of impermissible inducements, the committee found that two prospective student-athletes with their student host entertained strippers in the student- athlete's apartment upon which the student host gave the prospective student-athletes impermissible funds in order to tip the strippers.

In 1998 the committee had warned that due to the elevated risk of violations while prospective student-athletes are on campus prior to their first full-time enrollment, institutions have an increased responsibility to be vigilant in keeping track of the prospects activities to ensure compliance with the Bylaws.  This responsibility includes being updated on the bylaws concerning recruits on campus, procedures established to reasonably keep track of the prospects in order to assure compliance with the rules, and a system to make sure these steps are being followed. Where there is a failure to follow these procedures the lack of institutional control becomes evident.

Penalties

The penalties imposed by both the committee and the University for the various major and secondary violations were chosen to reflect punishment befitting the seriousness of the infractions that contributed to the finding of a lack of institutional control.  The penalties implemented were based on several factors, including the type of violation as well as the time it took for the committee to complete the investigation. The committee was concerned with the large amount of violations that had transpired over the course of several years, the lack of an effective compliance program and the amount of time it took to complete the investigation. Based on these concerns, as well as the troubling fact that academic fraud was discovered, the committee concluded, among other penalties, that a substantial period of probation was necessary.

In addition to the self-imposed penalties, including a two year probationary period, limited official visitations, loss of financial aid and counters for the football program, the University also forfeited all contests during the 2000 and 2001 seasons the ineligible athletes were allowed to compete in. Due to the length of the committee's investigation most of the self-imposed penalties were served by the time the report came out. While the committee adopted the University's punishments, it instituted a longer probationary period not set to expire until December of 2013.

Analysis

The self-imposed prohibitions that the University implemented relating to recruiting, counters and financial aid, game forfeitures and individual player, coach and season records edited to reflect the forfeited games due to ineligible players more than likely saved the University from getting issued the "death penalty." It could have been argued by the committee that the "death penalty" was warranted in this case based on the conduct within the violations concerning academic fraud, impermissible benefits, and inducements and recruiting. Another major violation concerned exceeding official paid visit time limits (maximum time limit is 48 hours) and participation with the football team in athletically related activities before the prospective student- athletes were admitted to the institution. Because Alabama State committed academic fraud and impermissible benefits and inducements for recruitment and eligibility purposes, it could be argued that the football program, much like SMU's football program, attempted to "gain a competitive advantage over the university's competitors by cheating." While Alabama State did not achieve national prominence, they did however receive several winning seasons which included the 2001 SWAC Conference title. These winning seasons and championship were eventually forfeited by the University as part of its self-imposed penalties.

Unlike the student-athletes at SMU, the prospective student-athletes did not receive cash payments, but they did receive free long distance, housing, meals, and utilities The total of these impermissible benefits, if added up for the over thirteen (13) individuals, could have compared with the amount in cash receipts received by SMU's student-athletes. The University's reconciliation of these activities by getting a new head coach and forfeiting season games, records, and a championship enabled the committee to apply strict but fair penalties that did not catastrophically damage the Alabama State football program.

Furthermore, while the loss in financial aid was harmful to the program, as well as the lack of recruiting time, the overall loss to AlabamaState of two weeks during one season as compared to SMU's prohibition from off season recruiting activities for an entire year does not compare in effect. While Alabama State had to give up some financial aid, a few counters, games won, individual records set, a championship, and postseason play opportunities, this paled in comparison to the prohibitions put in place for SMU that has crippled its football program to this day. Alabama State's willingness to admit wrongdoing, desire to rectify that wrongdoing through self-imposed penalties, compliance education for athletes and coaches, and surprise athletic audits contributed to its ability to survive a possible "death penalty" report. The committee, learning from the tragic effects of the "death penalty" against SMU, was able to accept the University's penalties while giving a public reprimand and censure and deciding to only supplement the probationary period by five years.

Afterthoughts

While the committee choose to accept the University's penalties and add some of its own, the amount of major infractions in this case, the type of infractions by institutional staff members, including academic fraud, have some wondering if the University has learned from its past experiences. This investigation was the fourth time AlabamaState had been investigated by the NCAA's committee on infractions. The other three proceedings occurred in 1985, 1987 and 1995. Based on the lack of an effective compliance program and a "revolving door of administrators…including within the department of athletics," it was not a surprise that the institution was found to lack institutional control. A prime example of the lack of an effective compliance program and oversight of the University was the hiring of a football coach who was known to have poor knowledge concerning compliance since the school he was hired from was under investigation for infractions as well. His lack of compliance education and the amount and kind of incidences at Alabama State concerned the committee so much so that his current employer was required to show cause as to why the committee should not penalize his current school for not requiring the head coach to attend compliance seminars. The committee further requires that his current employer submit compliance reports for two years with an emphasis placed on the institution's monitoring of his assistant coaches' activities, his compliance education, and his recruitment practices.Furthermore, because of the continued probation for an additional five years, it appears that the committee has little faith in the ability of AlabamaState to follow through with developing an effective compliance program in order to maintain institutional control. If Alabama State returns before the committee with a violation of a similar nature I believe it is possible that the committee would implement for the first time in over twenty years the "death penalty" upon a school.

Akers is a third-year law student at Florida Coastal School of Law.

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New Huskies Coach Violates Rules, School Turns Itself In

The Universityof Washington turned itself in to the Pac-10 and the NCAA last month after committing two separate minor recruiting violations.

The school revealed that the first one occurred when new football coach Steve Sarkisian and his staff simulated a game-day simulation for recruits who were visiting the campus. Specifically, Huskies coaches rented a fog machine and played a siren, while the recruits ran out of the Husky Stadium tunnel during their visits.

John Morris, senior associate athletic director for compliance at the UW, told the media that he spoke with Sarkisian and "he was remorseful and regretted that it happened and said if he had known it was going to be a violation it never would have happened."

The second violation occurred when Sarkisian and defensive coordinator Nick Holt met with various Los Angeles-area recruits, who were underclassmen, and their high school coaches at a Los Angeles hair salon and, later, at a coffee house.

The school said in a statement that "it is not permissible for coaches to have off-campus contact with prospective student-athletes until July 1 before their senior year, nor is it permissible to have recruiting contact with prospects in the presence of media."

Washington Athletic Director Scott Woodward added his own statement, saying that he wanted "to make it clear that we do not tolerate NCAA violations. We, as a department, are committed to compliance with the rules. Coach Sarkisian and Coach Holt found themselves in an awkward situation that was not of their doing. They regret that the incident occurred, and I'm confident that they will handle similar circumstances differently in the future."

Sarkisian, later, took a lighthearted approach to the matter, telling the Seattle Times: "We're going to stay creative, and you guys will keep writing about us and the ways we are trying to be creative. But that's OK. That's our job. We need to keep these kids interested in what we are doing and how we are doing it and why we are doing it."

He further called the violations "misunderstandings.

"We want to be as compliant with every rule that we can, and that's where I think misunderstanding comes in, and that's exactly what it is. This wasn't about we were trying to beat the rule or anything. We did something that they hadn't done here before [with the fog machine] and that was the extent of it. And [in the second incident] we walked into a situation where there were two people there we didn't know were going to be in the room."

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Compliance Director Introduces Fresh Ideas at SIU

Christian Spears has wasted little time putting his imprint on Southern Illinois University.

Since arriving at the school in August of 2003, Spears has managed the school's Athletic Compliance Office and its Athletic Financial Aid Office with aplomb, implementing a wide array of programs designed to protect the athletic department as ell as fostering an enthusiastic group of fans.

Among the initiatives are the "Become a Saluki" website as well as the Saluki Athletic Compliance Office website. Spears also established a monthly compliance newsletter "The Compliance Conscience" which is hosted by the National Association for Athletic Compliance (NAAC). In addition, Spears established the annual SIU all-sports recruiting weekend for prospective student-athletes and parents.

Most recently, Spears implemented the "Sports Studies Intercollegiate Athletic Graduate Internship Program" in coordination with the SIU Department of Kinesiology and the SIU School of Law.

Prior to joining SIU, Spears worked in the Department of Athletics at Long Beach State University, The Ohio State University and Harvard University.

What follow is our regular feature where we ask several questions of a compliance lead, such as Spears, to learn a little more about why they have been successful.

Question: What are the biggest challenges facing compliance directors today?

Answer: Ultimately, all of us face the task of maintaining our knowledge base with the varied and shifting NCAA legislative agenda. In addition, we all are monitoring a number of substantial compliance issues on our individual campuses, while endeavoring to maintain great relationships with our coaches, staff and student-athletes. Additionally, we all have the ultimate goal of protecting the integrity of our colleges and universities. I think it is the balancing act, managing the multitude of responsibilities that are placed on the compliance office, I really think that is the biggest challenge.

Q: What has been the defining moment of your career as a compliance director?

A: For me it has been working with great people at great schools. When I worked at Ohio State with Heather Lyke and the staff she had assembled at that time that was significant. I knew then I was working with some exceptional people and I learned a substantial amount in a short period of time. Additionally, working at Harvard with Sheri Norred and managing all of the compliance issues for the vast array of varsity and junior varsity intercollegiate athletic programs (56 of them, in fact); with almost 2,000 student-athletes was certainly a defining moment. Recently, being involved with NAAC and the direction the leadership team is taking us has been extremely exciting and rewarding. I feel really good about what is happening on a national level through NAAC.

Q: What's your favorite part of your job?

A: I hear from coaches as well as other athletic administrators about how much they would dislike being the compliance person. I think we have all heard the "I would never do your job" line. For me, I love being the compliance person. Other than the Director of Athletics, it might be the only position within intercollegiate athletics where you can know every coach and student-athlete, you can gain insight into everyone's job because fortunately or unfortunately NCAA regulations surround every aspect of an athletic program. In addition, you know and work with the university community as well as the alumni and friends of the programs. I think being able to establish relationships and interact with a substantial segment of the university community as well as the entire intercollegiate athletic program is unique and special and for me that is the best part of the job.

Q: What the best way to remove the adversarial element of your relationship with coaches?

A: Work for them! You have to zealously represent their interests, their program and their student-athletes. You protect and serve the integrity of the institution when you have a great working relationship with your coaching staff. Naturally, investigating an allegation or self-reporting an NCAA violation is going to potentially get adversarial. I try to be fair but thorough and I think they respect that but if they don't, so be it, you have to do that aspect of the job with all due diligence. Ultimately, if the coach wants the relationship to be adversarial, it will be. Hopefully, they'll recall all of the time you spent helping their program.

Q: Do you consider yourself understaffed, or just about right?

A: I suppose you can never have enough staff because you can always do a better job of monitoring an individual aspect of your compliance program. However, I feel good about the people I work with as well as the number of staff we have in the Saluki Athletic Compliance Office. We have a Compliance Coordinator and a Compliance Law Clerk (just like a GA) as well as two law school externs (class credit only). In addition, we have a graduate intern from our Sport Management program as well as Federal Work-Study student worker. I think we are just about right for the size of our program and the number of coaches and student-athletes we serve.

Q: How is your staff divided (i.e. does each person specialize in a certain type of rule and violation, or are they assigned to teams)

A: We all have our individual duties as assigned but our office is designed to train people to run their own compliance program, so we expose everyone to everything from the mundane and routine compliance task to writing an NCAA violation or waiver. Ultimately, we want to provide great service to our coaches, staff and student-athletes and when someone comes into our compliance office with a question, we want them to leave with an answer or at least an idea of what they need to do next.

Q: How does your staff monitor the social network presence of your student athletes?

A: We created a policy but we really rely on our coaches to take the lead on this issue. I know our coaches realize how their programs would be damaged through inappropriate language, postings or pictures of their student-athletes on a social network site. I think they do a great job of providing us with team sanctions as well as communicating with their student-athletes when we identify potential issues.

Q: Do you find that student-athletes concern themselves with learning compliance rules on their own and monitoring their own behavior, or do they need to be closely watched?

A: We need to educate them and we realize that is a big part of the job. We make ourselves as visible as possible and I think that goes a long way!

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Compliance Professional Looks at Coach-Client Relationship

Next week, I am preparing for the foot race of a lifetime. Me, in decent shape, versus one of our women's track & field coaches, who was invited to the Olympic trials last year. I will get to the specifics later, but this "race" is being held in an effort to build on the relationships that I have with the coaching staff.

As I started working in the compliance field, a mentor sat me down to discuss the coach/compliance relationship and why it was so important. He communicated the direct impact this relationship has on most, if not all, compliance functions. He advised me to go the extra mile, to do the little things, and to take notice when a coach is doing the same. "All will help to make our job easier in the long run," he said.

In my office, we strive to be more than a compliance staff, and we most certainly do not view ourselves as "officers." We strive to be colleagues with a job to do. We are fans of each of our sports. We root for our coaches and student-athletes. We attend practice and games and travel with the teams on selected road trips. We make sure that everyone knows that our office staff will fight for them and our student-athletes within the legislation, and that we will let them know when there is something that needs to be changed, addressed, or reported. We do this with respect and dignity. We are direct with our coaches, administration, and student-athletes; and they have learned to appreciate our working relationships. They have begun to understand that we are here to help – whether the result is positive or negative, they understand that we're on their side.

With phone logs, contact and evaluation logs, NLI request forms, etc., we have paperwork and deadlines for everything. Some coaches are on top of deadlines, some are not. Paperwork is seen as frustrating and time consuming, and our time is valuable. We recognize that our coaches' time is valuable as well. We now post all forms online and coaches can type directly into the forms on line and submit them from the website. In addition, our email addresses are on every copier in the athletic department; therefore, coaches have the capability to scan everything and send it to our email. These little things communicate to our coaches that we are making every effort to help them save time, and we are ultimately getting all of the documentation that is required of a compliance office.

Compliance education can be extremely tedious and time consuming for coaches. We have found that interactive and engaging sessions build relationships and have actually become fun. At our coaches exam review sessions, we have played a different trivia game each year. This past spring it was "Who Wants to be Card Holder" with the prizes being gift cards to local restaurants and stores. This has allowed us to have more interaction with coaches, and it gives coaches from different sports a chance to interact with each other.

Beyond making the most of educational meetings, eliminating the sometimes inherent tension between coaches and compliance, the most important reason to strive to create strong, positive relationships with coaches may be for that time when we have to say, "No," to a coach, or inform him or her of a possible violation. The reaction to these situations can be stressful and can be eased by a bond that has been built up over months or years.

Therefore, in an effort to continue to build relationships with our coaches, I am going to learn humility and have a foot race with a women's track coach that was invited to the Olympic trials! The news of the race has been circulated around the department; and now administrators, coaches from other sports, and student-athletes will be there. The head track coach has offered to help me, but I don't think I can learn Olympic speed in a week. Even with a head start, I haven't been given much of a chance to win. I am more than willing to lose if it will help me build buy-in at the next coach's education session or the next time I inform someone of a violation. If this works out, in two weeks I am going to attempt to hit a 90 mile per hour fastball!

Malcolm is the Assistant Director of Compliance, University of Central Florida

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News Briefs

NCAA Clears Former TAMU-Corpus Christi AD of Charge

The NCAA has decided not to charge former Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Athletic Director Brian Teter with filing an inaccurate self-report on illegal participation by one of the school's volleyball players, according to a report last month in the Corpus Christi Caller Times. Teter still faces an accusation of unethical conduct around the alleged failure to report the player's ineligibility when he originally found out about it. Others facing unethical conduct charges include former university compliance directors John Secord and Wayne Bridgeman. Teter is represented by attorney Scott Tompsett before the NCAA, Tompsett argued, apparently successfully, that Teter was being denied due process by the NCAA, since the NCAA did not specifically cite anything wrong,

South Carolina Self-reports Violations in Its Basketball Program

The University of South Carolina revealed last month that it reported NCAA rules violations after a women's basketball coach improperly text-messaged a prospect and a coach incorrectly publicized an informal practice scrimmage. The violation for publicizing the scrimmage occurred in November and was considered Level II, which means the SEC office collects such infractions and submits a report to the NCAA at the end of the academic year.

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