Athletic Department: compliance is key

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Sarah Jane O'Keefe -- NCAA compliance became a top priority for the Lancers’ athletic department.

Previous violations of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) regulations have cost teams championships, players Heisman Trophies and countless jobs within athletic programs.

Newest member of the NCAA Division II Pacific West conference, California Baptist University, has a fresh slate in the eyes of the NCAA, but precautions must take precedence in order to avoid penalties due to violations.

Associate Director of Athletics for Compliance, Debbie Snell emphasized the need for players and coaches to adhere to the new regulations that CBU must follow.

“I’m doing my best to educate everybody according to what the NCAA rules state and what the by-laws are to prevent violations from occurring,” Snell said. “If a student athlete has a violation that will render them ineligible and they play ineligible, then it affects the entire team.”

Miami Dolphins running back, Reggie Bush was asked to return his 2005 Heisman Trophy by The Heisman Trophy Trust, due to violations committed during his career at the University of Southern California (USC).

Since Bush and other violators were part of USC’s championship team in 2004, NCAA officials stripped the national title from the record books.

Snell stressed the importance of accountability because the fate of an entire team can rest upon the poor decisions of one player.

“The team would likely have to forfeit the games they won while that ineligible athlete was playing,” Snell said. “That’s how it ends up affecting the team and the teams record.”

Repercussions for NCAA violations can affect more than the just the players involved.

Boise State University athletic director Gene Bleymaier was fired while the school’s athletic program was under investigation for multiple NCAA violations.

“If something happens to affect the eligibility of a single athlete and that athlete continues to play then it ends up affecting the entire team and even the entire athletic department,” Snell said. “The athletic department at the university could be fined, put on probation or prevented from playing in championships for a certain length of time.”

The Boise State football program is currently on probation and is forced to remove 9 scholarships over a three-year period from their program. Practice schedules have also been reduced as a part of the sanctions enforced by the NCAA.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Boise State president Bob Kustra said that, “having new leadership in the office of athletic director that understands the critical role compliance can play in the life of the program” will help prevent future violations.

Students can help prevent extensive penalties from being enforced by informing the compliance office of any violations that they know about including preferential treatment and impermissible benefits for student athletes.

Snell encourages students to come forward when they suspect a student athlete is receiving gifts from staff members and boosters.

“If a student here on campus knew of such a thing that would be helpful and beneficial they [can] report that to the compliance office so that we could follow up right away and take care of that before it led to a major violation,” Snell said.

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