College sports attorney and private investigator Michael L. Buckner will be contributing his candid opinion about the NCAA enforcement investigation of the Ohio State University football program (which involves former head coach Jim Tressel and former student-athlete Terrelle Pryor) during the “Buckeye Memorabilia Scandal” segment of ESPN’s Outside the Lines, which will air this Sunday (August 7, 2011) on ESPN at 9:00 am (Eastern) and on ESPN2 at 10:00 am (Eastern). Check your local cable and satellite listings for the dates and times of other airings of the program on ESPN and ESPN2.
Outside the Lines is an Emmy Award-winning investigative series that examines topical issues off the playing field. The program includes interviews and opinions of leading authorities on the issue at hand. Hosted by veteran journalist Bob Ley, Outside the Lines has investigated various sports-related trends and topics.
ESPN’S DESCRIPTION OF THE SEGMENT
“Jim Tressel is gone now, in the wake of an investigation that found he had covered up NCAA violations involving Ohio State football players and memorabilia purchased by a local tattoo parlor owner. Ohio State administrators have offered to forfeit all victories and the co-Big Ten Championship from 2010, and will make their case for no additional penalties before the NCAA Committee on Infractions Friday in Indianapolis. However, as Tom Farrey reports on Sunday’s Outside the Lines, the roots of scandal can be traced back to the Buckeyes’ national championship of 2002 when the memorabilia market first exploded, aided by university-sponsored events that invited fans to get close to players and obtain signatures. Additionally, questions exist about how well administrators monitored Tressel, who in his 2005-06 performance review was rated by former Ohio State athletic director Andy Geiger as “unacceptable” for his self-reporting of NCAA rules violations.”
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM BUCKNER’S INTERVIEW
Mr. Buckner’s appearance on Outside the Lines will showcase his philosophy about “telling universities what they need to hear, not what they want to hear” to maintain rules-compliance and decrease the occurrence of major NCAA rules-violations. Based on his review of NCAA enforcement documents, investigation interview transcripts and other information pertaining to the Ohio State enforcement case, Mr. Buckner briefed ESPN’s Tom Ferrey on what Ohio State should expect during the August 12, 2011, hearing before the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions. Portions of the interview will be included in Sunday’s segment.
BEST PRACTICES AND SOLUTIONS
Mr. Buckner’s Outside the Lines interview emphasizes the importance of proactive rules-compliance programs at all NCAA member institutions. The Michael L. Buckner Law Firm will continue to recommend the following measures:
- Incorporate an explicit provision concerning the institution’s expectations for compliance with NCAA Bylaws 10.1 (unethical conduct) and 22.214.171.124 (head coach monitoring provision) into head coaches’ employment agreements.
- Communicate the institution’s expectations for compliance with NCAA Bylaws 10.1 and 126.96.36.199 through one-on-one annual meetings with head coaches and regular workshops with all coaches.
- Provide head coaches with rules-education materials containing strategies and techniques to comply with Bylaw 188.8.131.52.
- Brief student-athletes and employees with athletically-related duties on the institution’s internal investigation policy and procedure (including a person’s obligation to report alleged rules-violations in a timely manner).
- Provide the president and director of athletics with a regular report (e.g., quarterly, biannually, annually) of the institution’s efforts to: a) minimize compliance issues involving high-profile student-athletes; and improve the campus community’s understanding of amateurism and awards and benefits legislation.
- Develop a high-profile student-athlete due-diligence program (which includes heightened monitoring of high-profiles’ compliance with NCAA legislation).
- Enhance rules-education concerning amateurism and awards and benefits legislation (especially: regulations on student-athletes’ receipt of free or reduced services; and rules governing institution-issued athletics awards, apparel and equipment) for student-athletes, athletics staff, local merchants and boosters.
- Implement a student-athlete vehicle registration program (and verify the accuracy and completeness of the information submitted to the program).
- Monitor social-network and other Internet sites (including, but not limited to, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, blogs and sports media websites) to identify possible rules-compliance “hot topics” and issues.
- Create a daily Internet search/alert (e.g., Google alert) to identify possible rules-compliance issues.
- Create an anonymous hotline to receive allegations, tips, questions or other information concerning alleged rules-violations.
- Address “hot topics” concerning amateurism and awards and benefits legislation in regularly-scheduled rules-compliance audits.
About the Firm
The Michael L. Buckner Law Firm is a boutique law firm that assists college and university presidents, general counsel and athletic administrators with addressing NCAA enforcement investigations, infractions appeals and rules-compliance issues. The law firm Web site can be found at www.michaelbucknerlaw.com.