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June 14, 2011


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, senior assistant AD for compliance:

Q: Last fall, Iowa reported secondary violations when a couple of basketball recruits got to meet Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore at a game. Why is that a violation? Lisa in Blacksburg.

TP: “Kutcher is a native of Iowa and a one-time student at the university. Since Iowa determined that a violation occurred, he must have met the NCAA definition of a ‘representative of the institution’s athletics interest’ (commonly known as a booster). There are several ‘triggers’ that can cause an individual to earn this designation: anyone who has donated to an athletics program, season ticket holders, alums, etc. NCAA rules restrict interaction between prospects and boosters during the recruiting process, largely because of the potential dangers presented by unscrupulous boosters. For the NCAA, it’s all about minimizing outside influences in the recruiting process and keeping it limited to – as much as possible – coaches only.”

Q: I read recently that Manny Atkins is planning to transfer from Virginia Tech and go to another school. Where can he transfer to and play immediately, or does he have to sit out a year no matter where he winds up? Thanks! Ashley in Durham, N.C.

TP: “Manny has decided to transfer to Georgia State, a Division I school in Atlanta. He will have to sit out a year before competing. During this time he will be eligible to practice and receive an athletics scholarship. (There would be additional restrictions on him – substantial enough to be ‘deal-breakers’ – if he had transferred to another ACC school.) If he had transferred to an NCAA Division II or Division III school or an NAIA school, he would likely have been able to play right away.”

Q: Does the NCAA allow schools to help student-athletes whose families have lost everything in the recent floods and tornadoes? Scotty in Blacksburg.

TP: “Yes, this is what we in the compliance profession refer to as the ‘Katrina waiver.’ In 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf coast, and the NCAA allowed schools like Tulane and New Orleans to provide extra benefits to student-athletes. Obviously, under normal circumstances, the student-athletes wouldn’t receive those extra benefits.

“To give you a more recent example, a devastating tornado hit Tuscaloosa, Ala., on April 27, and the next day, the NCAA told the SEC that it would loosen the rules for the Alabama Crimson Tide’s athletics department to be able to help the school’s student-athletes.

“Many of these young men and women had no shelter, clothing or food. The NCAA is allowing Alabama to buy clothing and food and also to purchase plane and train tickets to get home for the summer.

“The NCAA gets its share of criticism. But in these cases, the NCAA gets it.”

Q: I saw where Hawaii is planning on going on a foreign tour to China and Japan in August. I thought the NCAA outlawed these types of trips. Can you explain? Thanks. Jeremy in Christiansburg.

TP: There was a proposal put forward by the NCAA membership to eliminate these tours, but it was defeated in January.”