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College Sports, Education

NCAA Mandates for Institution’s Rules-Compliance Programs, Part I

NCAA legislation mandates colleges and universities satisfy minimum rules-compliance standards. Over a two-part series beginning today, we will review NCAA Bylaw that describes an institution’s rules-compliance responsibilities. Specifically, Bylaw states “membership in the Association places the responsibility on each institution to ensure that its staff, student-athletes and other individuals and groups representing the institution’s athletics interests comply with the applicable Association rules and regulations”. Accordingly, pursuant to Bylaw thru (d), the NCAA requires institutions to demonstrate that:

•It has in place a set of written policies and procedures that are clearly communicated to athletics staff members and those individuals outside athletics who have rules-compliance responsibilities. These written policies and procedures must assign specific responsibilities in the areas of rules compliance, including assignment of direct accountability for rules compliance to the individual the president or chancellor assigns overall responsibility for the athletics program.

•In critical and sensitive areas, institutional compliance procedures provide for the regular participation of persons outside of the athletics department. The responsibility for admission, certification of academic standing, evaluation of academic performance and administration of financial aid for student-athletes must be vested in the same agencies that have authority in these matters for students in general.

•Rules compliance is the subject of a continuous, comprehensive educational effort to a wide range of constituencies.

•A clear and unambiguous commitment to rules compliance is a central element in all personnel matters for individuals involved in the intercollegiate athletics program.

A review of the legislative history of Bylaw provides an interesting explanation for the rule. For example, the intent of Proposal 2006-101 (which amended Bylaw thru (c) with its adoption on March 9, 2007) was to “clarify the athletics certification program standards in the area of governance and commitment to rules compliance”. The proposal’s rationale was multifold: “The athletics certification program is approaching the end of its second cycle with the third cycle beginning in 2008-09. The operating principle in Bylaw will continue to emphasize presidential/chancellor authority over the intercollegiate athletics program and will also focus on involvement of governing boards with the athletics program. The proposed changes in Bylaw will clarify the program’s standards related to rules compliance. The changes will specify that written policies and procedures must be communicated to individuals both inside and outside the athletics department who have rules compliance responsibilities. Further, the proposed changes will specify certain areas of responsibility that must be the same for student-athletes and students generally. Finally, the proposal clarifies the expectations for an institution’s rules-education program. These changes are a result of the Committee on Athletics Certification’s examination of the athletics certification program in order to strengthen and clarify the operating principles in preparation for the third cycle.”


About Michael L. Buckner, Esquire

An attorney who provides clients with internal investigation, civil litigation, estate planning and compliance services.


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