It is no secret that the NCAA Manual can be a little confusing when it comes to decoding rules. There are exceptions and interpretations, subtopics and figures, limitations and waivers…it can be a little overwhelming to the untrained eye. Compliance directors across the country have the tall task of knowing the legislation and the even taller task of making sure their athletics staff members know the rules, too.
Heather McAtee, the director of compliance at the University of Kentucky, has found that it is much easier to educate the Kentucky athletics staff on NCAA legislation by incorporating a little fun. She uses her creativity and a few different forms of technology to get her ever-important points across.
“We work with a dry topic. Saying the rules over and over doesn’t help with retention. We didn’t want to put on a lecture, but instead we needed a fun and light weight way to educate,” said McAtee.
“If they get it free or reduced, to the bench they will be introduced!
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Any benefit must be available to the general student population in order for it not to be classified as an extra benefit.” - Kentucky Tip of the Week, July 2010.
When she came to Kentucky in 2006, McAtee continued a practice she learned while working at Florida State University; emailing regular compliance updates to the entire athletics department. These updates turned into a weekly email where she tried to put NCAA rules into a fun and easy to remember format – rhymes! Her short, yet complete rhymes became the material for her weekly “Tip of the Week” emails she sends out to the athletics list serve, which even reaches the athletics grounds crew.
“She does a great job of keeping our athletics department and coaching staffs informed throughout the year. You’d be amazed at how a simple rhyme can make things easier to remember,” said University of Kentucky assistant men’s basketball coach Orlando Antigua.
With the evolution of social media, McAtee made her tips viral by posting to the Kentucky compliance Facebook page and Twitter feed. The Facebook page now has more than 600 likes and the Twitter feed has over 1600 followers, which means fans and boosters are likely getting the message, too.
“Rules aren’t necessarily applicable for fans, but it is good for them to know and they want to know,” explained McAtee. “In fact, we are one of the few compliance departments where fans actually know the names of staff members.”
McAtee, like all compliance directors, knows how important it is for everyone to know the rules. She also knows how important it is for everyone to remember the rules.
“People will actually repeat the rhymes to me when they see me in the hall,” said McAtee.
Memorable, you better believe it.
And that is the point.