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June 21, 2012

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: I have a 6-year-old son who is learning how to swim. He's had swimming lessons at our local swimming pool, but I wasn't impressed with his instructor. I was thinking about contacting one of the Virginia Tech swimmers and see if he or she would be willing to give my son some private lessons. If I do this, am I allowed to pay him or her for giving the lessons? Thanks, Ned in Blacksburg.

TP: "Yes, you can, with some stipulations. You could not use any Virginia Tech facilities during the lesson, and the student-athlete must be compensated at a rate that is at or near what other individuals would be paid for providing the same instruction. In other words, do not compensate a student-athlete based on his/her reputation, fame or personal following."

Q: Our local Boys and Girls Club is holding a fundraising event to raise money to buy some new sports equipment for the club. We're holding a dinner, and we'd like to invite a current Tech football player from our area to speak at this dinner. He used to attend the Boys and Girls Club regularly as a kid. Will this get him in trouble with the NCAA? Thanks, Latoya in Atlanta.

TP: "It is permissible for a student-athlete to participate in promotional activities – including speaking – at a charitable, educational, or non-profit organization's function. However, approval for the student-athlete to be involved in non-institutional activities must be obtained from the Athletics Compliance Office prior to the event.

"Also, the student-athlete cannot be compensated for the appearance. However, he or she could be reimbursed for any traveling expenses."

Q: What is the latest on the NCAA's plans to increase student-athletes' scholarships by $2,000? It seems this issue has died recently. Thanks, Jon in Blacksburg.

TP: "No, the issue hasn't died. The plan was approved by the NCAA's Division I Board of Directors last October, but was suspended in December when 160 schools registered formal opposition, forcing suspension of the rule and reconsideration. Schools had three primary concerns: funding source(s), Title IX implications, and how the stipend would apply to student-athletes receiving partial scholarships.

"Three new models have been circulated to the membership for review and comment. The Board of Directors is expected to take action at its August meeting after receiving feedback from conference and campus officials following league meetings this summer."

Q: Did you see where ESPN got Lane Kiffin [Southern Cal head coach] in some hot water? I guess he committed a violation when he sent ESPN's Shelley Smith a text saying that he needed "to get Nelson" on signing day. Nelson was the first name of a recruit. Your thoughts? Thanks, Eric in Blacksburg.

TP: "I had not heard about that particular incident, but I did some research and you were right. Smith was covering signing day at USC, and Kiffin did send her a text, saying, 'We need to get Nelson.' That was a reference to a recruit in Florida.

"It just goes to show that coaches have to be careful. The NCAA rule is very specific – coaches can't talk about recruits before having a valid National Letter-of-Intent on file. Not allowing coaches to talk about the players they are recruiting avoids the 'one-upmanship' that could (and previously did) occur between coaches in the recruiting process."