Terms & Definitions


What is compliance in college athletics?

Compliance involves academic institutions, athletics departments, coaches, staff and student-athletes adhering to the spirit and intent of good sportsmanship and the rules and regulations set by the governing bodies of college athletics that they are members of. The rules are set to protect student-athletes, keep competition fair, and set clear, cohesive boundaries for alumni, athletes, administrators, and boosters.

In the United States, the primary governing bodies that oversee intercollegiate athletic competition are the National Collegiate Athletic Association, or NCAA, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, or NAIA and the National Junior College Athletic Association or NJCAA. The role of these governing bodies is to create legislation that fosters fair play and academic integrity, while protecting the safety and wellbeing of student-athletes. Most academic institutions that sponsor an athletic programs have a Compliance Office within their Athletic Department or central administration that helps to interpret legislation and educate, monitor, and verify adherence with regard to each sport and component within the athletics program.

Why is compliance important in college athletics?

Compliance with established rules is essential to the overarching mission of competitive equity and fair play within intercollegiate athletics.

Who sets compliance standards for college athletics programs in the United States?

Each governing body has a legislative structure that is agreed upon by its membership through which rules are recommended, adopted and enforced,.

Why is NCAA compliance important?

NCAA compliance is essential to the association’s ability to operate in accordance with its core values of integrity, competitive equity and fair play.

What happens if an academic institution’s sports programs are found to not be in compliance?

If institutions are found not to be in compliance with regulations, the institution can incur various penalties which might include probation, fines, loss of post-season eligibility, loss of recruiting privileges and public censure and reprimand.

What happens if a student athlete is found to not be in compliance with NCAA standards?

A student-athlete found not to be in compliance with NCAA regulation may be subject to a variety of penalties which may include suspension or termination of eligibility and/or restitution.

How frequently does the NCAA update their compliance regulations?

NCAA regulations are updated annually following review by the membership.

What does a NCAA compliance officer do?

A compliance officer is responsible for the education, interpretation and enforcement of association wide rules on behalf of a member institution.

Lyle Adams


Lyle was a member of the 2007 NCAA Men’s Soccer Championship team at Wake Forest. After embarking on a professional soccer career, Lyle transitioned to the tech industry, where he was one of the first 100 employees at Uber, designing platforms and tools for data consumers. Lyle also holds a Master’s in Sports Management from Columbia University.