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College Sports, Education

NCAA Investigators’ Campus Visit to Ohio State: A Review of Some NCAA Rules on Interviews

Ohio State University president Gordon Gee said on Thursday (June 9, 2011) that members of the NCAA enforcement staff left campus over one week ago to investigate allegations of rules-violations involving Ohio State student-athletes. According to the NCAA-issued notice of allegations, numerous student-athletes allegedly sold or traded athletics awards and memorabilia in exchange for cash and tattoos from a local tattoo parlor—which is a violation of NCAA legislation. The Michael L. Buckner Law Firm provides below an overview of some of the rules NCAA enforcement investigators must follow before or during interviews of witnesses during an investigation:

NCAA Bylaw 32.3.4 (Interviews with Member Institution)

The athletics director or other appropriate official of an institution shall be
contacted by the enforcement staff in order to schedule interviews on the
institution’s campus with enrolled student-athletes, coaching staff members or
other institutional staff members with athletically related responsibilities or
oversight who are involved in possible violations at the institution.

NCAA Bylaw 32.3.4.1 (Presence of Institutional Representative During Interview)

If an interview with an enrolled student-athlete or athletics department staff
member is conducted on the campus of an institution, an institutional
representative(s) (as designated by the institution) will be permitted to be
present during the interview, provided the subject matter to be discussed in
the interview relates directly to the individual’s institution or could affect
the individual’s eligibility or employment at the institution.  If the investigator wishes to discuss information with a student-athlete or staff member that is related solely to institutions other than the one in which the student-athlete is enrolled or staff member is employed and would not reasonably affect the student’s eligibility or the staff member’s employment, the institutional representative shall not be present during that portion of the interview.  In such a situation (after the institutional representative has departed), any information inadvertently reported by the student-athlete or the staff member that is related to his or her own institution shall not be used against the student-athlete, staff member or that institution.

NCAA Bylaw 32.3.4.2 (Conflict with Academic Schedule)

If possible, interviews should be conducted without disrupting the normally scheduled academic activities of the student-athlete.

NCAA Bylaw 32.3.6 (Representation by Legal Counsel)

When an enforcement staff member conducts an interview that may develop information detrimental to the interests of the individual being questioned, that
individual may be represented by personal legal counsel throughout the
interview.

NCAA Bylaw 32.3.7.1 (Disclosure of Purpose of Interview)

When an enforcement representative requests information that could be detrimental to the interests of the student-athlete or institutional employee being interviewed, that individual shall be advised that the purpose of the interview is to determine whether the individual has knowledge of or has been involved directly or indirectly in any violation of NCAA legislation.

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About Michael L. Buckner, Esquire

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

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