Friday, August 03, 2007

Christmas Comes Early

by Jeff Konya, Assoc. A.D. for Compliance & Student Services

After a long night of playing NCAA College Football 2008 (the Mustangs are 5-0 going into a tough game at Southern Miss), I walked into my office today and surprisingly, someone left me a early Holiday gift. But instead of a $50 gift card or tickets to the Saturday night “Jack” concert, it was shiny new 2007-08 NCAA Division I Manual. I felt like I had just picked door #3 on “Let’s Make a Deal” and the manual represented the prize of a broken down donkey.

The 2007-08 manual is only 440 pages this year compared to the 460 pages of the 2006-07 variety. I’m still trying to figure out if they took anything out or just made the print smaller, seeing that over 60 rules were changed, new to the book, or substantially altered. After spending a few minutes looking at Shrek’s best friend, I gave up, and wandered over to my computer, and specifically, to With the boom of fan-based websites and message boards, it has become a common practice for compliance departments to check these types of sites for content, amusement, and general compliance monitoring. While reading through the recruiting forum on the latest verbal commitments, I came across a couple of interesting topics.

The first discussion centered on the NCAA conversational legislation regarding text messaging. As of August 1, coaches can no longer text message or instant message prospective student-athletes. Now, electronically transmitted correspondence is limited to e-mail and faxes. (I don’t know many coaches that use a fax machine as a recruiting tool, but sometimes the NCAA is not very practical in rules application). Speaking in practical terms, I can’t wait for the first coach to ask a compliance staff whether the new Apple Iphone interactive “email” component will be permissible. According to the NCAA, the rationale for why the texting rules changed are because of the distraction it caused prospects (especially during the school day and during their competitions) and the significant costs involved with receiving texts under some cell phone plans.

The second topic centered on a compliance question regarding a sports talk radio show conducting an interview with a prospect and encouraging the prospect to go to a particular university. As a general rule of compliance, no representative of athletic interest should contact a prospect for the purpose of recruitment. Therefore, this issue would turn on whether the talk show host fit within the NCAA definition of a “representative of athletics interest.” To be tagged as a representative, the individual would have had to:
· Participate in an organization promoting athletics at that institution (or had so in the past);
· Contribute (money, time, volunteer, etc) to the Athletics Department or any of its booster clubs;
· Assist or have been requested by athletics staff to help in the recruitment of a prospective student-athlete;
· Assist in providing benefits to an enrolled student-athlete at the school and/or their families or;
· Been involved in otherwise promoting the athletics program.

I surmise that a radio talk show host would have, at least once, given a positive personal opinion regarding that school’s athletics program on air, and therefore, would have at minimum satisfied the last point listed. And as many of you on PonyFans noticed, that particular set of facts would have resulted in a NCAA violation. It should be noted that the prospect is allowed to call or interview with media outlets at his or her discretion and not at the direction of the institution (for example, a press signing at a high school, information on recruiting websites, or newspaper articles) and university athletics coaches and staff cannot publicly comment on the athletic ability of potential recruits until the prospect has signed a National Letter of Intent and/or institutional offer of financial aid.

I also want to thank Broadus Whiteside, the Director of Compliance at SMU, for helping me with this blog, especially with the execution of the screen pass on NCAA 2008. Mustangs 7, Golden Eagles 0, end of 1st quarter.

Last Ipod Download – “Jukebox Hero” by Foreigner


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