The Basis For Institution Control

An NCAA Rules and Regulations Guide for the Alumni and Friends of the University of Illinois

April, 1998

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has developed a strong commitment to maintaining institutional control of its athletics program by:

  • sharing responsibility for compliance throughout the institution;
  • establishing a system of sound policies and procedures that will help ensure compliance with NCAA regulations, Big Ten Conference legislation, and internal institutional rules; and
  • auditing and evaluating its compliance program to ensure that adequate internal control are in place.

    Several entities through the University share responsibility for compliance. The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois formulates University policy and delegates the execution of those policies to its administrative officers, chief among them, the President of the University. Under the direction of the President, the Chancellor serves as the chief executive officer of the Urbana campus and, as such, is responsible for institutional control of the athletics program. As a practical matter, he/she has delegated the day-to-day operation of the program and its compliance component to the Director of Intercollegiate Athletics (DIA). In addition, he has designated an Associate Chancellor as a liaison to DIA, in order to provide close communication on goals and strategic plans, and to ensure that governmental, NCAA and University rules, regulations, and requirements are met. An additional avenue of communication has been established through a member of the Board of Trustees who serves as the Trustees' representative to the Athletic Board.

    A committee of the Faculty Senate, the Athletic Board is responsible for seeing that the athletic program adheres to the university's academic and educational objectives. Its members include nine faculty, four alumni, three students, one member of the Board of Trustees and, as ex officio members, the Athletic Director and designees of the Chancellor and the University Comptroller. In consultation with the Athletic Board, the Chancellor appoints two faculty members to serve as University representatives to the Big Ten and the NCAA. Faculty Representatives are voting members of the Athletic Board, rule on all certifications of athletic eligibility and review petitions to the Big Ten and NCAA on behalf of student-athletes. The Athletic Board is also advisory to the Chancellor and Athletic Director on financial and personnel management and other operational aspects of DIA.

    A Committee of the Athletic Board, the Academic Progress and Eligibility Committee (APEC), monitors the academic progress of all student-athletes, approves all intercollegiate schedules for competition and makes recommendations concerning academic policy to the Athletic Board.

    In order to be most effective, accountability must be shared throughout the institution. To achieve this commitment, offices outside of DIA are aware that they also share responsibility in the compliance function. The Office of Student Financial Aid (OSFA) and the Office of Admissions and Records (OAR) play critical roles in determining student-athlete eligibility and are aware of and have a commitment to compliance with NCAA and Big Ten regulations. Meetings between the academic services staff of DIA and representatives of OSFA are held regularly to ensure good communication on issues and problems and the Assistant Director for Compliance provides rules education for staff in those offices.

    Within DIA, the responsibility for compliance, of course, threads through the entire organization, from the Athletic Director and other administrators to the coaching staff and student athletes. The Athletic Director expresses the importance of compliance to coaches in the hiring process, during annual evaluations, and when determining compensation levels. The contracts for all coaches include clauses which state that compliance with NCAA and Big Ten rules and regulations is an expectation for continued employment. Coaches are expected to attend rules education sessions and to understand and adhere to the rules.

    At Illinois, a system of polices and procedures is in place to guide the actions of coaches, athletic staff and others involved in the recruitment and retention of student-athletes. This system is administered by the Assistant Director for Compliance who monitors and verifies compliance with all NCAA and Big Ten regulations. The Assistant Director reports directly to the Director of Athletics and has a "dotted-line" relationship to the Associate Chancellor who serves as the Chancellor's liaison to DIA. This relationship provides an avenue of communication about problems that might stem from actions by the Director of Athletics.

    The Assistant Director has responsibility for providing rules education to DIA personnel; to student-athletes; and to organizations outside DIA such as clubs that support the athletic programs and businesses that hire student athletes and that provide gifts-in-kind. The Assistant Director creates systems to ensure compliance with NCAA and Big Ten regulations, evaluates documentation and reports from coaches in all sports, interprets rules and obtains advice from NCAA and conference offices, investigates potential violations that he and others have identified and reports those that are violations to the Athletic Director and the Associate Chancellor and to the Faculty Representatives, who then notify the NCAA. The Assistant director works to correct any weaknesses in the compliance effort to prevent similar violations and keeps the Athletic Director and Faculty Representatives informed of the status of compliance. The system is documented in the DIA Policies and Procedures Manual, which is given to all DIA staff and informs athletics personnel of many compliance-related policies and procedures and NCAA rule interpretation procedures. A compliance manual is under development with an expected completion date of September 1, 1998.

    In order to monitor rules compliance the University conducts two levels of audits. An audit of the athletics program finances, as mandated by the NCAA is conducted annually by an external auditor. Systematic audits are also conducted of every sport and of the major divisions of athletics by the University's Office of Audits (a unit of the Central Administration) to determine the adequacy of internal control systems in place to ensure that the programs are conducted in compliance with NCAA and Big Ten legislations and University financial and administrative policies and procedures. The findings and recommendations from these audits are reviewed by the Athletic Audit Review Committee (AARC). The Chancellor appoints the AARC to ensure that the system in place is adequate to the task of preventing or discovering deliberate or inadvertent violations of rules. The members of the committee include the Faculty Representatives to the Big Ten, two faculty members of the Athletic Board, two faculty members not associated with the Athletic Board, and staff from the Office of University Audits, with the Associate Chancellor (liaison to DIA) as chair. Upon review of these audits, the AARC recommends improvements in procedures, and informs the Chancellor of the status of compliance.

    The primary components of a comprehensive system of institutional control at Illinois--sharing responsibility, effective policies and procedures, auditing and evaluating the system--represent a strong commitment to maintaining compliance with NCAA and conference legislation. No major infractions have occurred at Illinois in the last 6 years, due in part to the renewed emphasis on monitoring and oversight. The continuing development of systems, strengthening of relationship between DIA and other campus units, and implementation of recommendations for improvement stemming from audits and evaluations will help achieve Illinois' goal of having a robust program of institutional control and maintaining a record of compliance.