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Is EMU’s compliance staff adequate?

July 2, 2010

Compliance Guy at the Bylaw Blog recently asked — and answered — the question, “How much compliance is enough?

His answer:

The absolute minimum number of full-time compliance officers a Division I athletic department should have is two…At the BCS level, five is the bare minimum…Some programs need more…The biggest football and basketball programs also have a booster culture surrounding them, people who want access to players and coaches, demand extraordinary levels of success, and will do anything to help their schools get it. And larger BCS schools manage more student-athletes, larger amounts of money, and deal with increased regulation through their conferences.

Although I don’t perceive compliance as a big issue for EMU, imagine the agony of the football team getting banned from post-season play and then having a good season! In late 1976, Kentucky’s football program was given a 1-year ban on post-season play, with the choice of being banned that season or the next. Since the team had just completed the best season (7-4) in decades, they chose to play in a bowl game that year and take the ban in 1977. In 1977, the team went 10-1, 6-0 in the SEC, ending the season ranked #6. So the unfortunate confluence of a rare winning season and NCAA sanctions does happen, and it’s one of the most agonizing things that can happen.

A quick check at EMUEagles.com shows six people listed as “Compliance Staff”: Dr. Melody Reifel Werner, Associate Athletics Director/Compliance; Dr. Michael Paciorek, Faculty Compliance Associate; Teiryne Vaughn, Coordinator, Athletics Certification; Dr. Elizabeth Broughton, Faculty Athletics Representative; Adrian Kowal, Compliance Coordinator; Meredith Hanschu, Graduate Assistant. I’m not sure how many of those people are actually full-time compliance staff, but I think that’s probably pretty good. Apparently several major programs (Connecticut and Pittsburgh, to name two) only have one or two full-time compliance staffers.

It’s also worth noting that EMU Athletic Director Derrick Gragg has a background in compliance. From 1995-97 he was the director of compliance & operations at the University of Missouri, and for the 1996-97 year he served on the Big 12 Compliance Coordinators Group. From 1997-2000 he was the assistant athletic director for compliance at Michigan. Overall, it looks as though Eastern Michigan’s compliance operations are well-staffed and getting the attention they deserve.

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