NCAA Compliance: Using Data to Help Keep Student Athletes Eligible



NCAA Compliance offices are crucial groups, dedicated to ensuring an institution’s compliance with NCAA regulations. They are tasked with applying those regulations to many areas, such as academic eligibility, financial aid, recruiting, personnel, and competition.

As with many other facets of higher education, data is a key ingredient for success. This blog will approach NCAA compliance from a student data reporting lens, looking at how to connect available data to help meet the needs of your compliance office.


The student cycle begins in the admissions office and is one of the initial collection points of student athlete data. Identifying these students at the start is crucial, as there are regulations regarding interactions with prospective student athletes.

Indicators of these prospective student athletes are helpful to staff. (It often requires cooperation among the compliance office, admissions, and registrar to define a single, or multiple, indicators.) Once these agreed upon indicators are in place, be sure they are consistently defined throughout your entire information flow – from the admissions CRM to your institution’s ERP and/or data warehouse.

Registration Activity

Student athletes have certain guidelines that need to be met to remain eligible for participation in their respective sports. Compliance offices need to keep their “finger on the pulse” of all activities surrounding athletics, including those of the individual student athlete. Here are some registration reports and workflows an institution can consider:

Registration holds

Create a workflow to put a registration hold on a student athlete record at certain times during the registration cycle. Only allow certain advising staff the ability to lift the hold to be sure each athlete is properly advised. Student athletes have certain registered hours requirements to maintain each semester and academic year. This step, for example, can help prevent unintended consequences a schedule change could have on a student without proper advising.

Registration activity report

Create a report that displays all registration activity of a student athlete. A report like this could be scheduled daily to be delivered to someone in your compliance office. Two approaches could be taken: 1) a full audit history of registration is displayed, or 2) a comparison report (this would show the differences between two points in time in a student’s profile and provide a quick glance for compliance staff).

These reports, or variations on them, give a compliance office a good set of tools to help keep student athletes, as well as the entire institution, in compliance with NCAA regulations

Tips for Success

While some suggested examples are provided above, your involvement in compliance reporting will vary depending on the needs of your institution’s compliance office. Below are some additional suggestions for success that can be applied universally.


Be sure to maintain a line of communication and working relationship with relevant staff in your compliance office, or relevant intermediary. Ongoing conversations help everyone keep in touch with the reporting needs and available resources. With a great working relationship in place, possible issues and solutions can reveal themselves that may not have been uncovered through a standard process.

Data Definitions

Be sure that your data definitions are clearly defined for your reports. For example, if a report asking for “credit hours” for student athletes is requested, it’s important that report reflects what “credit hours” means in the world of compliance (attempted hours, GPA hours, etc.).


As with every field, there exists an entire world of which only those working in it usually have a full understanding. Differences in process and vernacular are barriers that can be remedied by just a little research. Try to get an understanding of what data is needed and why. What is the end goal?

For example, a standard report from a student data lens might carry more significance for the compliance office and for the institution’s eligibility. Such a report is the APR (Academic Progress Rate), a key metric from the NCAA for measuring academic success and eligibility of student athletes.


NCAA compliance is an important and required process for every institution with athletes competing under the watchful eye of the NCAA. Data has always been a key ingredient in that process, and it will continue to be as data availability evolves. Through thoughtful development and collaboration, you can use that data to help maintain your institution’s eligibility and success.

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Zach Berven

Zach Berven has worked as an analyst and developer for seven years at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK), previously in the Office of Strategic Enrollment Reporting and Analysis under the Division of Enrollment Management, and currently for OIT - Data Services. He primarily develops and supports the campus data warehouse, as well as Argos and SAS VA reports. He has a BS in Computer Information Systems and is presently working on his MS in Information Science. His hobbies include college football, PC gaming, running, and food.

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