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February 9, 2011

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: A couple of months ago, Kevin in Blacksburg asked about a Texas player who had given up football because of concussions and being allowed to receive aid. According to you, the NCAA allowed this. My question is what if that player wanted to come back and play again? Would the NCAA allow him to do this? Jon in Roanoke, Va.

TP: Yes, if the medical staff determined that he had recovered to the point of being able to compete again, NCAA rules would permit him to do so. However, any athletically related financial aid that he had received in the interim (while incapacitated) would then retroactively count against the team’s financial aid limits.”

Q: I was walking through the new football locker room recently and saw where they had replicas of the bowl rings from each of the past 18 bowls during our recent bowl streak. I was wondering who pays for the bowl rings after a bowl game and can the student-athlete sell the ring for cash? It seems like the Ohio State kids got in a little trouble for doing this. Pam in Christiansburg

TP: “First, the NCAA allows each school to purchase a bowl or a conference championship ring for each player but places a limit on how much can be spent. Second, no, a student-athlete cannot sell the ring or anything else for cash or trade it for goods. This applies to rings, tickets, jerseys, etc. Now, once the student-athlete leaves, he or she can sell, trade or do whatever with the materials.

“You’re right. This is exactly what got Ohio State in trouble. Five players sold championship rings, jerseys and awards, and they received penalties that included suspending them for five games and forcing them to pay back the value of the things they sold. This money will go to charity.”

Q: Explain the NCAA’s logic in not suspending those players for the Sugar Bowl. Thanks, Jimmy Robertson, Editor, Inside Hokie Sports.

TP:This is what people found most puzzling. Rather than begin the suspensions immediately, they were delayed until the first five games of next season.

“Part of the rationale was that the players ‘did not receive adequate rules education at the time period the violations occurred.’ In other words, the NCAA didn’t hold the student-athletes fully responsible for the violations, finding that Ohio State needed to do a better job of educating the student-athletes. Thus, the NCAA said its policy allows players to participate in a championship or bowl game if they were ‘not aware they were committing violations.’

“The remainder of the rationale, as I read one NCAA staff member’s explanation, was that postseason competitive opportunities -- bowl games and NCAA championships -- are viewed differently than regular-season competitive opportunities (e.g.. these opportunities are more special due to their unique nature) when penalties are under consideration. Every effort is made, the spokesman said, to permit players to engage in postseason competition and delay sanctions to the following academic year, where possible.

“Also, consider this. Georgia receiver A.J. Green was suspended the first four games of this past season for selling his 2009 Independence Bowl jersey. So the NCAA’s punishment for the Ohio State players was harsher.”