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January 11, 2013

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 saw an article recently that stated that Ohio State’s compliance office recently started requiring each assistant football coach to make sure each of his players has a checking account and a personal budget. Otherwise, the players can’t suit up for games. The coaches are required to monitor the players’ spending habits to make sure they don’t get into financial trouble. Do we do this at Virginia Tech? Your thoughts? Thanks, John in Blacksburg.

TP: “I saw this article as well, and no, we do not require our student-athletes to have a checking account or personal budget here at Virginia Tech.

“My first thought is that the idea is extreme. However, based on what the Buckeyes have been through in recent years, perhaps it does have some merit. It gives athletics administrators the ability to assess the financial status of student-athletes, and it’s definitely better for the athletics department to know about any issues before a booster does.

“Also, the banking and budgeting advice would be beneficial to the student-athletes . . . as it would be to any college student. Maybe it could even help them avoid some of the financial problems that many professional athletes seem to experience.

“It strikes me as a sizeable additional responsibility for the assistant coaches. But the idea is definitely unique. I’ll be interested in talking to my colleagues in Columbus to find out whether they feel the program has value, and how long it’s continued.”

Q: How come the coach rarely gets punished when a school gets in trouble with the NCAA? I mean, John Calipari has had two Final Fours vacated because of NCAA shenanigans, and he never got punished. Wouldn’t a suspension of some sorts curb some of this illicit behavior? Just wondering. Thanks, Jean Ann in Pearisburg.

TP: “Actually, many in the NCAA agree with your line of thinking. Last October, the NCAA Basketball Focus Group endorsed and strongly encouraged the use of suspensions from regular season and/or tournament games for head and assistant men’s basketball coaches found guilty of violating NCAA regulations. These suspensions could be handed out by the NCAA Enforcement Staff or the NCAA Committee on Infractions, and could result from a major infraction or a combination of secondary violations. So I think the new rules will hold coaches more responsible for NCAA violations in the future.

“Now, in fairness to Calipari, he wasn’t directly named by the NCAA Committee on Infractions as a result of the investigations in the two cases you were referring to – one at UMass and one at Memphis. As they say, a lot of smoke but no fire. Calipari was not found to be culpable.”

Q: It doesn’t seem fair to me that schools are self-imposing bowl bans when they don’t even know what the penalties may end up being. Look at Miami. They chose not to go to a meaningless bowl game in return for lighter future sanctions from the NCAA. That’s almost getting to pick your penalty. How is that fair? How much does the NCAA take into account self-imposed penalties? Thanks, Danny in Blacksburg.

TP: “First, I’d challenge your assumption that they were going to a ‘meaningless’ bowl game. They would have actually won the Coastal Division (because of North Carolina’s situation) and played for an ACC title this year, with the chance to go to the Orange Bowl. So the decision to self-impose cost them an opportunity at a major bowl.

“However, I understand your point. There are quite a few folks in the compliance profession – and throughout intercollegiate athletics – who would like to see the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions not even consider self-imposed bowl bans when delivering its sanctions. Many believe that would make for a fairer process.

“However, the NCAA also has to consider the impact of its punishment on the current student-athletes – and, keep in mind, none of them did anything wrong. At Miami, two classes have been denied a postseason opportunity. Would the NCAA deny a third class an opportunity? That’s part of the dilemma.”