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January 10, 2014

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 & Governance:

Q: How big is the NCAA rulebook? Thanks, Jim in Blacksburg.

TP: “All of the NCAA Constitution and Bylaws are available online at any time. Athletics departments also receive printed copies. A couple years ago, several bylaws were consolidated and duplicative language was removed. Also, a decision was made not to include the NCAA bylaws dealing strictly with governance protocol (committee composition, etc.) in the printed manuals that are received annually by athletics departments. Because of these changes, the manual actually slimmed down by nearly 100 pages.

“Currently, the NCAA Division I Manual is comprised of 302 pages, including table of contents and index. That may seem like a lot to some people, but keep in mind that certain parts of the manual are only applicable to certain groups. Some bylaws are only relevant to athletics directors, some to presidents and faculty athletics representatives, some only to a single sport. Coaches need to be well versed in about 75 of the manual’s pages (slightly more for football and basketball coaches), and knowledgeable of about 100 more.”

Q: Can you explain how it took the NCAA a few weeks to rule on the Johnny Manziel case [Texas A&M’s quarterback] and yet North Carolina basketball players P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald have missed nine games now? Manziel only missed a half of a game. I think this is what frustrates people with the NCAA. Thanks, B.J. in Christiansburg.

TP: “You ask a fair question, but you’re not really making an apples to apples comparison. Each case gets judged by the NCAA on its own merit, and we don’t know all the details, nor do we know who is cooperating.

“In the Manziel case, he was allegedly getting paid for autographing items that were later sold. The NCAA couldn't prove Manziel was paid, but it could prove he knew his autographs would be sold. Hence, he was suspended for half of the season opener.

Hairston is being investigated for his connection with a rogue agent. McDonald reportedly appeared in a website advertisement for a designer mouth guard. Both of those cases put their amateur status in doubt. The NCAA needs to investigate the facts to determine a ruling.

“There could also be a backlog issue. The NCAA prioritizes cases based on the athlete’s need to get back into competition. So it will handle football- and fall sports-related cases in the summer and then attempt to work on winter-sports cases by August and September. It’s possible an accumulation of cases pushed the NCAA’s investigation back.”

(Note: McDonald was reinstated after missing the nine games. The NCAA ruled that he must pay $1,783 in restitution to a charity of his choice. North Carolina decided not to apply for reinstatement for Hairston, which leads one to believe the evidence was so overwhelming against Hairston that he had no chance of being reinstated.)

Q: I recently heard where there is a proposal on the table to allow schools to provide unlimited food for student-athletes. I was wondering where that stood. Thanks, Grant in Blacksburg.

TP: There are two proposals that would loosen the reins on how institutions can feed student-athletes and both will be discussed at the NCAA convention this month. The one sure to draw the most opposition states, ‘that an institution may provide meals to student-athletes incidental to practice activities during the playing season and while a student-athlete is representing the institution in noncompetitive events (e.g., student-athlete advisory committee meeting, media appearances); further, to specify that an institution may provide snacks to student-athletes at any time.’

“A lot of institutions like this idea. For starters, it insures that student-athletes get the calories they need with food better tailored for performance. Many schools, including Virginia Tech, already have nutritionists who handle meals and snacks under the current NCAA rules.

“Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, if you provide enough snacks and all-you-can-eat meals, then student-athletes living off campus can save some of their room and board stipend for other expenses. This might be a way to appease those opposed to the $2,000 per year stipend proposal that continues to face widespread opposition.”