NCAA Compliance is a black box to most people. All of the sudden, an athlete is suspended for a “secondary violation.” Your favorite school signs a coveted prospect and then he misses games while he tries to “get eligible.” A beloved head coach breaks a rule and is branded a cheater, yet the rule seems arbitrary, arcane, and confusing. Some schools get punished swiftly and harshly while others appear to get away scot-free.
And so the NCAA gets branded with two seemingly incompatible labels: that of an inflexible bureaucracy (maybe so) and that of a fly-by-night cartel (probably not).
The trouble is that for many people working in the field of NCAA compliance, that black box is not that much clearer. In addition to the large NCAA manual, there is a body of interpretive law that grows even faster. There’s also a body of case law that grows so fast you cannot possibly be expected to keep up with it, only peaking at the bits you need.
If a real world administration operated like this, there would be any number of exposés and investigations. Facts would be brought to light, change would be demanded, or at the very least opinion offered. Yet aside from cries of deregulation and the occasional soundbite about the size of the rule book, not so much is heard from compliance professionals.
About the Author
John Infante is the assistant director of compliance at Loyola Marymount University. In the summer of 2010, his identity as the author of The Bylaw Blog became public, after which he decided to discontinue his blog. But, his passion for explaining NCAA compliance (outside of his full-time position at Loyola Marymount) did not end. He resurrected The Bylaw Blog with encouragement from the NCAA Communications department and is featured on their blog roll on NCAA.org.
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed on this blog are the author’s and the author’s alone, and are not endorsed by the NCAA or any NCAA member institution or conference. This blog is not a substitute for a compliance office. If you’re a coach, do not attempt to contact the author looking for a second opinion. If you’re a parent, don’t attempt to contact the author looking for a first opinion. Compliance professionals are by their nature helpful people generally dedicated to getting to the truth. Coaches should have a bit of faith in their own, and parents should talk to one directly.