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September 3, 2008

Virginia Tech's Compliance Corner

By: Jimmy Robertson

The Virginia Tech athletics department compliance team has a certain motto – ‘Winning the right way.’

Roughly 10 years ago, the compliance department at Virginia Tech consisted of basically one person.

But the complexity of NCAA rules, the organization’s more than 400-page manual and Tech AD Jim Weaver’s stringent belief in following all rules and regulations resulted in the athletics department expanding its compliance area. The department has four full-time people overseeing the compliance area.

In each issue of the magazine, there will be a section dedicated to compliance issues and to education. The compliance ‘team’ works with both the NCAA and the ACC to make sure rules are being followed.

Tim Parker 540-231-5497
Shauna Cobb 540-231-8492
Bert Locklin 540-231-2696
Heather Robertson 540-231-0644
Charles Holloway, Jr 540-231-2493

“We have three goals,” said Tim Parker, Tech’s assistant AD for compliance. “We educate about relevant ACC and NCAA regulations, we coordinate policies and procedures to meet these regulations, and we implement systems to monitor the effectiveness of these policies and procedures.”

Before getting started with the topic of the month, here is an introduction to the compliance team at Tech:

Tim Parker, senior assistant AD for compliance – Parker, a 1984 graduate of Lynchburg College (and he got his master’s from the University of Richmond in 1989), is the quarterback of the team. Parker is starting his 12th season as the head of athletics compliance operations. He came to Tech from the Patriot League office, where he was an associate commissioner. He oversees all components of VT Compliance Services, and serves as the university’s primary liaison with NCAA staff members on most issues.

Shauna Cobb, assistant AD for compliance – Cobb, a former student athletic trainer, is a graduate of Clemson University. She served in the Georgia Tech compliance office before joining the compliance team here at Virginia Tech. Her primary responsibilities include rules interpretations, financial aid, processing waivers with the Atlantic Coast Conference, and facilitating the review of legislative amendments with departmental staff.

Bert Locklin, assistant director of compliance – Locklin, a former diver and 2001 graduate at the University of Nebraska, served as the diving coach at Tech for four years before joining the compliance team in April of 2006. He also coached at New Mexico State and Western Illinois, and having been a coach, he possesses extensive knowledge of the NCAA manual from a coach’s perspective. At Tech, Bert monitors the recruiting activities of the coaches, monitors the playing and practice logs for the teams, monitors VT’s camps and clinics, administers the NLI program, liaises with the Eligibility Center on initial-eligibility and amateurism issues, and assists with the day-to-day issues and education as it pertains to compliance with NCAA, ACC, and Tech rules and regulations.

Heather Robertson, coordinator of academic compliance – Robertson came to Tech from the College of Engineering where she served as the admissions specialist. She serves as a liaison with the registrar to make sure Tech’s student-athletes meet the university’s and the NCAA’s academic requirements.

Charles Holloway, Jr., compliance intern – Holloway is a graduate of Averett College who came to Tech from Mount Olive College in Mt. Olive, N.C. He serves as sort of a ‘sixth man’ on the compliance team, helping in a variety of ways in the day-to-day operation of the compliance department.


Most fans don’t know it, but student-athletes are not the only Hokies connected to the athletics department who have to pass exams. Each year, the NCAA produces a Coaches’ Certification Exam. Any coach wishing to engage in off-campus recruiting activities during the upcoming academic year must pass the exam, as required by NCAA Bylaw These types of off-campus recruiting activities include watching prospects practice or compete (“evaluation” in NCAA jargon) and face-to-face interaction with prospects and/or their parents (simply referred to in NCAA-speak as “contact”).

Each year there are four versions of the exam. Due to the additional complexity of their sports’ recruiting rules, coaches in the sports of football, men’s basketball, and women’s basketball take a sport-specific exam. A uniform exam is given to coaches in all other sports.

In addition to ensuring that a coach has the basic knowledge necessary to navigate the NCAA’s regulatory maze while recruiting off campus, the exam was also designed to help coaches to become more familiar with the NCAA Manual. The exam, you see, is “open book.” The 2008-09 NCAA Manual is 427 pages in length, but questions on the exam are drawn from only about 70 of those pages.

Each annual Coaches’ Certification Exam contains 40 questions covering a myriad of rules and regulations. The majority of questions can best be described as brief case studies, portraying situations encountered by coaches. Others are directed toward a specific bylaw and are “definitional” in type. All questions are either multiple choice or true/false. Many of the questions involve material that is “second-nature” to the coaches; some, however, deal with obscure regulations and truly test a coach’s ability to effectively use the NCAA Manual to find the answer.

Here is an example of the type of questions asked on the exam:

Outside of the contact period, a member of the football coaching staff may speak at a banquet at which prospective student-athletes are in attendance, provided ____________.
A) It is not a dead period and the coach does not engage in evaluation activities.
B) The coach does not make a recruiting presentation in conjunction with the appearance.
C) The coach does not have direct contact with any prospective student-athlete in attendance.
D) All of the conditions above are met.
For those of you wondering, the correct answer is “D.”

Thus far, 54 Virginia Tech coaches have taken the 2008 version of the NCAA Coaches’ Certification Exam. Eighteen of those coaches – or one-third – scored a perfect 40-out-of-40 on the exam. These perfect scores included head football coach Frank Beamer, head women’s basketball coach Beth Dunkenberger, and head men’s basketball coach Seth Greenberg. Distinguishing themselves as masters of long-term exam success were head golf coach Jay Hardwick and head swimming & diving coach Ned Skinner, who have each finished the exam error-free eight times in the past 10 years. Cumulatively, the Virginia Tech coaching staff answered correctly 96.2 percent of the time on the 2008 exam, topping the 95% success rate for the fifth consecutive year.


Student host – the student host must be either a current student-athlete or a student designated in a manner consistent with the institution’s policy for providing campus visits or tours to prospective students. The institution may provide a host a maximum of $30 for each day of the visit to cover all the actual costs of entertaining both the host and the prospective student – excluding the cost of meals and admission to campus athletics events. The money cannot be used for the purchase of souvenirs such as T-shirts or other institutional mementos.