Thursday, April 15, 2010

In Compliance

TigerBlog was recently asked what his favorite movies of all-time were, so he ran down the basic list:
The Godfather, The Godfather II, Goodfellas, Rocky, Casablanca, Animal House, The Great Escape, Annie Hall, Broadcast News, Scent of a Woman, Hoosiers, Caddyshack, From Here To Eternity, A Few Good Men, The Spy Who Loved Me, The Best Years Of Our Lives, Apollo 13.

Of course, that list doesn't include the two best movies he's ever seen: Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan, which should be required viewing in public schools all over the country.

TB wouldn't have had to keep going much further down the list before he got to the movie "One on One," a classic from 1977 starring Robbie Benson as Henry Steele, a naive high school basketball star who finds himself on the campus and basketball team of the fictional Western University.

Henry, from some small town in Oklahoma, starts out overwhelmed on and off the court and of course ends up saving the season and getting the girl, in this case Annette O'Toole. If you've never seen it, by all means, it's worth the 98 minutes.

What stands out to TB when he sees the movie now is how many NCAA rules are flagrantly disregarded on Western's campus.

Not that TigerBlog is an expert on NCAA rules. Far from it.

The reality is that there are so many rules that becoming an expert is close to impossible, especially when compliance isn't your main area of focus.

Consider these examples:

TigerBlog received an email from a very nice woman from Connecticut who apparently is a teacher who has her students involved in a scholastic sports magazine. She wanted to have her students come to the Princeton at Yale men's lacrosse game and talk to the Princeton players from Connecticut.

Turns out that's against the rules, if the students are high school students. Why? Because Princeton's athletes are off campus.

TB has no idea who dreamed up that rule or even what the problem would be, though it has to be related to recruiting somehow. Of course, when the students turned out to be middle school kids, it ended up being okay, because middle school students aren't considered prospects.

Then there was the time TigerBlog put a picture of a lacrosse player with a Warrior logo on his uniform on the cover of a game program, which also featured the Warrior logo as a game sponsor. Turns out that was against the rules as well, and TB had to self-report.

That happens a few times a year for all athletic departments, no matter how diligent they are. That's also TB's only one.

TigerBlog was still at the newspaper when he started doing radio for basketball. When then-high school senior Jesse Rosenfeld was at Jadwin for his visit, TB wanted to put him on at halftime. Nope. Can't be done.

When TB came to Princeton, his radar about NCAA compliance wasn't completely up, but it happens quickly when you work in college athletics. Today, pretty much everything sparks the question of whether or not it is permissible, even stuff that seems on the surface to be completely innocuous.

Today, basically any request that involves student-athletes - use of their photos, use of their time, anything - triggers a warning light and a question for Princeton compliance department, which consists of exactly two people.

Princeton athletics is a series of functional areas, all of whom exist to support the coaches and athletes. There's a business office, marketing office, communications office, grounds crew, event staff, fundraising group and others.

One area is compliance, not just for the NCAA but also the Ivy League and the University.

The two people in the department are Anthony Archbald and Kelly Widener. They both have law degrees, Anthony from Tulane and Kelly from Ohio State, and both passed the bar. Anthony has only been on staff for a few weeks, and he has spent the last 10 years working in conference offices (the Mountain West and the Western Athletic Conference), so it's been awhile since he's been on a campus.

Together those two guide Princeton's coaches and 1,000 athletes through the maze of the NCAA manual, which runs hundreds of players and has obscure rule after obscure rule. It's not an easy task.

These rules exist, of course, to make the playing field level. The reality is that they need to be in place, because someone will always try to push the rules as far as possible. Every rule and interpretation has probably grown from someone's attempt to get around it in the first place.

Princeton, like most schools, is very diligent about its compliance efforts.

As for TigerBlog, he's reached the point where he might not know the rules, but he has a basic idea when something seems fishy.

To get an idea of how complicated this all is, just go to and check out the manual or the compliance section.

And then rent One on One, and see how many violations Western racks up.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Of course I completely agree with your list of all-time favorite movies and the fact that Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan absolutely should be required viewing!

Regarding the terrific movie "One on One" (how hot was Annette O'Toole!) my favorite line was when Henry Steele told Coach Smith to "shove his scholarship where the sun don't sun"... classic!