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April 12, 2010

Keeping up with Compliance

By: Jimmy Robertson

The compliance corner answers questions concerning the governance of intercollegiate athletics and its impact on our athletics department. Have a question? Please send it to and we’ll answer it in upcoming issues.

Now, here are a couple of questions that we’ve received from Tech alums and fans over the past few months, with responses from Tim Parker, the department’s senior assistant AD for compliance:

Q: "Are coaches allowed to send birthday or Merry Christmas cards to prospective recruits? This would seem like a nice touch when trying to recruit a young man or woman to Blacksburg." - BJ in Chesapeake, Va.

TP: “It would be a nice touch except that it’s not allowed. The NCAA allows coaches to send certain forms of printed materials, but greeting cards, such as the ones you are suggesting, are not on the list. However, a coach could send an institutional note card to a prospect with a handwritten note wishing him or her a Happy Birthday or Merry Christmas.

“Coaches are allowed to send things like business cards, camp brochures, questionnaires, non-athletics institutional publications (academic, admissions and student services publications), athletics publications (a recruiting brochure or media guide, but not both), pre-enrollment information, institutional note cards and institutional postcards.

“Now, there are limits in terms of color and sizes. For example, the media guide or recruiting brochure may have only one color of print inside the cover and may not exceed 8 1/2 by 11 inches in size and 208 pages in length. But all these can be sent to prospects.”

Q: "I’ve heard a lot about the “Committee on Infractions” over the years. Who is on this committee? Is this just a committee of bureaucrats from the NCAA?" - Tim in West Point, Va.

TP: “Well, if by ‘bureaucrats’ you are asking if they are members of the NCAA staff, the answer is ‘no.’ The committee is composed of 10 members and includes three attorneys, three law professors, two conference commissioners and two athletics department officials. Some of them have played or coached in the college ranks, but none have done so in the past 20 years. Obviously, the committee’s role is to determine if violations have been committed, by whom and what the punishment should be.

“The COI chairperson is a name familiar to Tech fans – former Miami AD Paul Dee, who is now a professor at that school. Britton Banowsky and Dennis Thomas are the commissioners of Conference USA and the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, respectively, and Missy Conboy has worked in Notre Dame's athletic department for 22 years. Temple law professor Eleanor Myers is an expert on legal ethics, and Rodney Uphoff, a professor at Missouri, is a former defense attorney who helped represent Oklahoma City bomber Terry Nichols.

“Per NCAA guidelines, two of the 10 members must be women and three are ‘public’ representatives, usually attorneys or former judges unaffiliated with a school or conference. The three public representatives on the COI roster are all lawyers, the most notable being Roscoe Howard, Jr., a former U.S. Attorney.

“Hearings are closed to the public, transcripts of the proceedings are kept confidential and COI members are forbidden from discussing cases. None of the members gets paid, and truthfully, it’s a thankless job. That’s probably more than you wanted to know about the COI, but at least it gives you some insight on the committee.”

Q: "If the Hokies play against North Carolina on a Saturday afternoon and Duke plays at N.C. State that night, could Coach Seth Greenberg go to the Duke-N.C. State game and scout it?" - Jeff in Crozet, Va.

TP: “No. The NCAA rule states that ‘in sports in which an institution may not provide expenses to scout opponents, a coaching staff member who receives any travel expenses from the institution related to recruiting or team travel may not scout an institution's opponent in conjunction with such travel.’”

Q: "Can a student-athlete participate in an NCAA Tournament bracket?" - David in Newport News, Va.

TP: “Only if money is NOT involved. If money becomes involved, then the NCAA considers this sports wagering – a big no-no – and a student-athlete risks his or her eligibility.

“Also, this rule applies to staff members who work in an athletics department, non-athletics department staff members who have responsibilities within or over the athletics department (e.g. chancellor or president, faculty athletics rep) or staff members of a conference office.”