NCAA compliance guidelines stress ‘life in the balance’

March 08, 2017 - 3 minute read


CUI athletes passing the baton

Concordia University Irvine (CUI) stands to gain numerous benefits as a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II school – more visibility, widespread notoriety, and greater recruiting power. But with these perks come stricter rules and greater responsibility.

CUI is completing its three-year membership application process to become a NCAA DII school. The university is currently a provisional member of the PacWest (Pacific West) Conference and the NCAA Division II.

CUI was previously a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), where there are fewer compliance regulations, according to CUI athletic department heads.

Compliance is perhaps the biggest difference between the NCAA and NAIA, according to Athletic Director Maurice “Mo” Roberson. “The NAIA compliance manual is probably paper thin and the NCAA Division II compliance manual is a book,” he said jokingly.

Roberson said everyone plays a role in preventing compliance violations.

It’s admissions, financial aid, everyone has to play a part in making sure we sustain institutional control.

“What we like to say here is ‘ask before you do things’ because compliance is everybody’s role,” he said. “It’s not just compliance officers. It’s admissions, financial aid, everyone has to play a part in making sure we sustain institutional control.”

Roberson said one of the monikers of the NCAA is “life in the balance.” Coaches and athletic department heads have to monitor their practices and the contact they can have with student-athletes and recruits to make sure it’s not overbearing on them.

Intended to protect student-athletes, there are guidelines governing recruitment, practice hours, travel, and much more.

“The regulations are to protect students from being overworked, to see there are fewer injuries, and that they have more time for schoolwork, said Brittany Brasington, assistant athletic director for compliance.

There are 22 different sports at CUI. Overseeing compliance for all sports, it’s Brasington and Andrea Riche’s job to make sure CUI complies with NCAA guidelines.

Comparing NCAA with NAIA compliance guidelines, Brasington said being a member of the NCAA puts CUI on a whole new playing field – figuratively and literally.

“In the NAIA, there are fewer rules and they’re less stringent,” Brasington said. “Recruiting under the NCAA, there are a ton of regulations, as far as who you’re allowed to talk to, when you can visit campuses, when you can start practice, how long you can practice.”

The NCAA focuses on the whole student - athletics, academics, and character.

The NCAA focuses on the whole student - athletics, academics, and character, Brasington said.

“NCAA DII prides itself on more balanced athletes,” she said. “We want well-rounded students. We want them to have the opportunity to have a leadership role and participate in other campus activities.”

Just as the NCAA focuses on students holistically, qualifying for NCAA membership involves the entire university, Brasington said.

“The process of becoming DII is a big change for the whole school,” she said. “It affects the whole institution, not just the athletic department. We all have to work together.”

“We’re constantly educating the coaches and staff and student-athletes about the rules,” added Andrea Riche, assistant athletic director internal operations and compliance. “We’re reviewing the rules and bylaws, letting them know what they can and can’t do.”

Danny Bowman, head track and field/cross country coach, said the compliance staff has done such a great job educating the coaches that they have been prepared for a while for the changes that were coming.

Not only does being in the NCAA put CUI on a new playing field, Bowman said NCAA compliance helps level the playing field.

“It currently shapes and molds each coach on how we can go about recruiting,” he said. “With the NAIA, the conferences/schools have their own regulations. The NCAA is the same no matter what school or conference you come from. It seems to me to even the playing field with rules.”

Although the NCAA regulations took some getting used to, Bowman said he prefers the more rigid guidelines.

I do think that the rules and guidelines have the student-athlete’s best interest in mind.

“I do think that the rules and guidelines have the student-athlete’s best interest in mind,” he said. “What I think it does is it makes it so that coaches and sports programs can't take advantage of the student-athlete. Academics are a priority and with the changes in legislation, it shows that the NCAA agrees.”

CUI anticipates full NCAA membership in 2017-18. If approved, CUI will be the only NCAA DII school in Orange County.

Back to top