User ID: Password:

August 15, 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, Associate AD for Compliance:

Q: What exactly can a coach do on an unofficial visit? I read where LSU got dinged by the NCAA when an assistant coach provided transportation and lodging for a recruit. Is this not permissible for unofficial visits? Thanks! Jerry in Blacksburg.

TP: “Transportation is permissible, but with conditions. A coach may provide transportation on an unofficial visit if he or she is driving the prospective student-athlete and/or his parents to see off-campus practice and competition sites in the prospect’s sport, or any other school facilities located within a 30-mile radius of campus. Also, a coach can provide three game tickets to an athletics contest.

“But other than that, no member of the coaching staff or the athletics department can provide transportation, lodging or anything else for a prospective student-athlete on an unofficial visit. This is the primary way in which unofficial visits differ from official visits.”

Q: More and more student-athletes are joining Twitter and posting random thoughts. Is it a violation for me to contact a student-athlete using Twitter? Thanks! Brent in Blacksburg.

TP: “Simply interacting with a current or former student-athlete via a social Web site is not a problem. However, posting in any public forum on the social media site of a prospective student-athlete (e.g. high school or junior college athlete) is problematic, if the content of the posting involves any language related to recruitment or any solicitation of that prospect’s athletics services on behalf of the college/university that you support.”

Q: I’m hearing that Mike Gentry [Tech’s assistant AD for athletic performance] isn’t allowed to discuss the Hokies’ offseason testing results at Tech’s annual media day. What is the NCAA’s logic behind not allowing this? This is ridiculous. Thanks from Marla in Gainesville, Fla.

TP: “The NCAA rules permit strength and conditioning staffs to design and conduct summer workout programs for student-athletes, but these summer workouts are still technically voluntary. Student-athletes cannot be required to attend the voluntary workout, and no information can be reported back to the coaching staff related to the student-athletes’ participation in the workouts. The goal is to prevent student-athletes from being indirectly ‘required’ to practice and train year round, while also giving those who want to work out in the summer the option of doing so. But coaches – and the public – aren’t allowed to know anything about these workouts, hence, the no-publicity rule.”

Q: Just a random question concerning drug testing. What if a student-athlete tests positive for a banned substance and it turns out to be medication that a doctor prescribed? Would the student-athlete be punished in this scenario? Thanks, Torye in Statesboro, Ga.

TP: “No. The NCAA rules do recognize a legitimate need for certain banned substances and exception procedures do exist. Keep in mind, though, that a prescription does not guarantee that a banned substance is okay to use.”

Q: What exactly is academic fraud? You keep hearing more and more about that these days (e.g. North Carolina), and it seems to be a growing problem in college athletics. Thanks, Cindy in Blacksburg.

TP: “Academic fraud includes many types of activities, but generally involves cheating. This could be cheating off a classmate’s work or having someone else write a paper for you and turning it in as your own.

“Whenever academic fraud involves a staff member or employee of the university (e.g. tutor), NCAA bylaw 10.1-(b) comes into play. The penalties for violating this bylaw are very severe, starting with permanent competitive ineligibility. So student-athletes need to be aware of the consequences before going down that road.”