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December 10, 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, senior assistant AD for compliance:

Q: I saw where Bruce Pearl [men’s basketball coach at the University of Tennessee] admitted to lying to NCAA investigators. Dez Bryant [Oklahoma State] lied to the NCAA last year, was caught and was suspended for the season. Will the same thing happen to Pearl? Allen in Blacksburg.

TP: “Good question and a tough one to answer. For those who don’t know, Pearl provided false information about excessive phone calls he made to recruits and inviting recruits to his house for a barbecue. My understanding is the NCAA will weigh in on this matter in December.

“Lying is actually a specific NCAA violation. NCAA Bylaw 10.1 states, ‘Knowingly furnishing the NCAA or the individual's institution false or misleading information concerning the individual’s involvement in or knowledge of matters relevant to a possible violation of an NCAA regulation.’ It will be interesting to see how the NCAA responds in this situation.”

Q: Just wanted to hear your take on the Cam Newton situation at Auburn. Rumors are flying that his father asked for money from Mississippi State in return for his son going there. Since no money ever exchanged hands and Cam Newton signed with Auburn, was there any NCAA violation actually committed? Tommy in Blacksburg.

TP: “According to NCAA rules, even trying to solicit money in exchange for a recruiting commitment constitutes a violation. Of course, it would be much worse if money did change hands, but if Cam was unaware of the solicitation (I know, a stretch), then the NCAA would take that into consideration before levying any punishment. The NCAA is not punitive just to be punitive.

“The NCAA ruled that a violation of amateurism rules occurred in this case and Auburn declared Newton ineligible, which it must do. Then Auburn can apply for reinstatement on Newton’s behalf, which it did. Evidently, the NCAA felt Newton didn’t know anything because it reinstated Newton the day after it found a rules violation had occurred.

“If some of the allegations later prove to be true, the big loser in this could be Auburn, even if that school had no knowledge of what was happening. The school could be forced to vacate wins, one of the school’s best ever quarterbacks could lose his eligibility (he has a year left), or worse. If Auburn wins the national title … wow, that could make for quite a mess.”

Q: I read recently where a Texas player gave up football because of concussions, but that he would stay on scholarship until he finished up course work on his degree. How does that work? Would he count toward the 85-scholarship limit? Kevin in Blacksburg.

TP: “The NCAA rules are built to accommodate situations where a student-athlete suffers an injury or illness that prevents him/her from ever competing in the sport again. Once a physician has declared that a student-athlete has sustained a permanently incapacitating injury or illness – and the diagnosis is backed up with substantial medical documentation – that student-athlete may receive athletically related financial aid in future years without counting against that team’s maximum. So no, if the concussions forced an early end to his playing career, he would not count toward the 85-scholarship limit.”