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April 14, 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: It seems that more and more schools are doing away with their football spring games. Why is that? Is this an NCAA issue? It seems that the spring game allows young players an opportunity to play in a game-like environment. Thanks, Donna in Floyd.

TP: “It does seem like more and more schools are eliminating their spring games, but the causes are not related to any NCAA rule changes. NCAA rules allow 15 practice sessions during the spring and no more than 12 can include contact. Of the 12 contact sessions, only eight can include tackling, and of those eight, only three can devote more than 50 percent of the time to 11-on-11 scrimmaging. Spring games count as one of those three sessions.

“Coaches have precious little time to work with their team in the spring. In fact, compared to other sports, football coaches have less access to their team members to engage in ‘skill instruction’ outside of the playing season. Not only does a spring game take away from this time generally, but it also takes away from the most limited subset of this time – 11-on-11 scrimmaging that includes tackling. So it makes sense that coaches are moving away from a fan- or competition-focused spring game to an open practice, or doing away with the spring game entirely.”

Q: So, am I right in saying that student-athletes and athletics department personnel can’t fill out brackets for the NCAA Tournament? Seems a bit excessive to me, but I believe that is the rule, right? Thanks, Bryan in Morgantown, W.Va.

TP: “Well no, not completely right. Bracket contests with no entry fees are permitted by NCAA rules. Athletics department staff members and student-athletes can fill out brackets and enter contests – even if there is a chance to win a prize at the end – as long as no money is paid up front. Here’s the key: without ‘skin in the game.’ It’s not actually a ‘wager.’ Any contest related to the NCAA basketball tournament (or any NCAA or professional sport, for that matter) that carries a cost to enter would be considered impermissible by the NCAA’s gambling/wagering rules.

“NCAA bylaw 10.3 states, ‘The following individuals shall not knowingly participate in sports wagering activities or provide information to individuals involved in or associated with any type of sports wagering activities concerning intercollegiate, amateur or professional athletics competition: staff members of an institution’s athletics department, non-athletics staff members who have responsibilities within or over the athletics department (e.g. chancellor or faculty athletics representative, staff members of a conference office, and student-athletes).”

Q: I understand the NCAA Convention was held last January. Is there anything new to report on the possibility that NCAA student-athletes will get paid in future years? It seems that this issue continues to be talked about, but nothing ever happens. Thanks, Paul in Pulaski.

TP: “Certainly there are a lot of moving parts to this issue. The initial attempt to provide some sort of compensation - $2,000 per year – failed to navigate successfully the NCAA’s legislative process mainly because many NCAA members feel they cannot afford that stipend, and many others feel that the concept doesn’t align with the mission of college sports.

“I can tell you that no formal votes regarding student-athlete payment were taken at the convention. Instead, there were attempts within Division I to sort of ‘take the temperature in the room’ in an attempt to zero in on those options that would receive the most support. Additionally, there has been movement toward the five major conferences – the ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 – gaining more autonomy to govern themselves in some limited areas, and one of those areas would likely be providing cost-of-attendance stipends for players.

“Obviously, this issue is going to continue to be discussed. It’s hard to tell when a final resolution will be reached.”