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November 14, 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: Does Virginia Tech allow partial or non-qualifiers into school to participate in athletics? Thanks, John in Blacksburg.

TP: “One quick clarification: the NCAA officially eliminated the term ‘partial qualifier’ several years ago. There are three academic categories for incoming student-athletes: qualifier, non-qualifier, and non-qualifier with a partial waiver.

“Now, as a rule, Virginia Tech does not admit non-qualifiers (student-athletes who fail to meet the NCAA’s minimum academic requirements for freshman eligibility). In addition, the ACC does not allow non-qualifiers to participate. However, the conference does allow its member-schools to participate up to four non-qualifiers annually (two men and two women, but not more than one in any single sport) who receive a ‘partial waiver’ from the NCAA Initial Eligibility Waiver Committee.

“It’s a time-consuming process to file the Initial Eligibility Waiver on behalf of an incoming freshman, and many are not approved. If approved, the student-athlete is able to receive athletically related financial aid and participate in practices – but not compete – during his/her freshman year.”

Q: I read where the NCAA reinstated Jarell Eddie the other day. I thought he was suspended by Virginia Tech. Why did the NCAA get involved? Thanks, Pete, Blacksburg, Va.

TP: “Jarell Eddie was suspended by Virginia Tech last spring before the spring semester ended and could not complete his coursework. A waiver request became necessary because continuing-eligibility rules require that student-athletes meet certain academic requirements each semester and each academic year. A student-athlete must complete six credit hours toward his or her degree each semester and 18 degree-applicable credit hours during each fall/spring combined. Jarell came up short of both requirements because of his suspension.

“However, Virginia Tech filed an appeal to the NCAA’s Progress-Toward-Degree Waiver Committee, basing our argument on the strength of Jarell’s academic record since he arrived on campus. Due to his high level of academic achievement, the appeal was granted.

By virtue of this relief, Jarell eligibility was reinstated and is able to compete immediately.”

Q: Did you see where Notre Dame’s star basketball player was suspended for playing in two exhibition games two years ago before deciding to redshirt? If Notre Dame knew it was going to redshirt the kid, why did the school play him in the first place? Thanks, Chuck in Blacksburg, Va.

TP:To give people some background on this, Notre Dame coach Mike Brey played his star player, Tim Abromaitis, in two exhibition games during his sophomore season before deciding to redshirt the young man. But Brey (and maybe others) misinterpreted the rule.

“The NCAA allows freshmen to play exhibition games ONLY without using up one of their four seasons of competitive eligibility (redshirting) — but not sophomores, juniors or seniors. There was obviously a misunderstanding of the rule in South Bend, and it wasn’t discovered until well into Abromaitis’ ‘redshirt’ season (2008-09).

“So fast-forward to 2011, and he has competed three ‘full’ seasons – during his first, third and fourth years at Notre Dame. This summer, Notre Dame filed an appeal with the NCAA to allow Abromaitis to play a fourth full season during his fifth year at the school (essentially asking that the participation in the two exhibitions as a sophomore be ignored). The NCAA issued a waiver that will allow Abromaitis to play his fourth season in 2011-12, but he must sit out the team’s first four games as punishment for Notre Dame’s violation of a ‘minor’ rule.

“Interestingly, Brey offered to serve a two-game suspension for breaking the rule instead of having the NCAA punish the player, but the NCAA declined.”

Q: Can a head coach or an assistant coach follow a recruit on Twitter? Thanks, Rachel in Blacksburg, Va.

TP: Good question. Yes, a head coach or an assistant coach can follow a recruit on Twitter. However, coaches are not allowed to reply or communicate with recruits publicly on Twitter. They can send a direct message to a recruit through Twitter. In essence, direct messaging is viewed as a form of e-mail, and NCAA rules currently allow unlimited use of e-mailing as a form of communication between coaches and recruits.”