The NCAA is known to run a tight ship. Staying in compliance with each line item in the NCAA’s 400-page-plus rulebook is mandatory for athletic programs to retain their competitive eligibility.
But the NCAA is in the midst of an era in which compliance with the rulebook and conference realignment are constantly in media headlines. For journalists and fans, the constant bombardment of the NCAA’s version of legal jargon can fly overhead if not properly explained.
With the NCAA in a period of change, Infante believes he is filling a void when it comes to reporting compliance issues.
“I do think there are people that would see this as a period where they could push the NCAA for greater change,” he said. “[I try] to be real and factual and kind of more analytical rather than emotional about certain cases and rules.”
Infante started Bylaws Blogs anonymously in 2009 while working as a compliance officer at Loyola Marymount University. The NCAA recognized the value in such an outlet and it offered to host the blog on NCAA.org, where it stayed for two years.
Eventually, Infante began feeling compromised by working for the nonprofit organization and blogging about its doings.
It also began to interfere with his daily work, so he put it on hold until AthleticScholarships.net, a high-school-to-college athletic recruiting resource, offered to rehost the blog as a service to universities, fans, future recruits and the media.
“I was able to get out working in compliance day-to-day and was able to start the blog back up because I didn’t have the conflicts that I’d had before,” Infante said. “The blog was the fun stuff.”
He said he isn’t a journalist or an NCAA “watch dog,” but an analyst. His time spent in college athletic compliance at Loyola Marymount as well as Colorado State University gives him the background to take a headline out of the day’s media and break it down into how the violation occurred – something mainstream media might not have the space or knowledge capacity to do.
“A lot of what’s out there is kind of based on assumptions of how the NCAA works or how compliance works,” Infante said. “What I was doing at the blog was kind of a way to do more of the fun stuff, the fun parts of compliances.”
Similarly, Jen Condaras, the compliance commissioner for the Big East Conference, runs DailyComplianceItem.com, a blog that highlights one bylaw per day as an educational tool. Each morning, she posts a new bylaw, written in the form of a plausible example.
“I think what is important and helpful, which goes a little bit further for the recipient, is when you put things into real life situations,” she said. “You don’t want to rattle off a bunch of bylaws, you want to put it into context where they are going to understand.”
Boston Globe Sports Editor Joe Sullivan echoed Candara’s sentiments at the difficulty of explaining broken bylaws and NCAA violations.
“I think the way you go about it by explaining what the actual violations were rather than the rule,” Sullivan said. “You say they violated NCAA rules and here’s what they did. That gets the point across in a much more understandable manner.”
Her blog has become more of an educational tool for league coaches and school officials than geared towards casual readers. Condaras partnered with JumpForward, a software solutions company specializing in college athletics, to send each morning’s blog post out as a daily email.
She believes that education is key in staying compliant with the NCAA regulations and is important for all involved – athletes, coaches, fans and the media.
“The importance just increases as we continue to change,” Condaras said. “Whether we start deregulating a lot of the minutia, for example in the area of recruiting or financial aid, I think it just becomes that much more important.”
She said that any knowledge that can be translated to anyone and everyone in a way that’s comprehend able, like what Infante is doing, is a benefit to college athletics and appreciated by the NCAA.
“I think a lot of people have paid attention to [Bylaws Blog] and tuned into what he’s going to include next,” Condaras said. “A lot of issues are fact drive and are very specific … when you can really put things into context in that regard and try to dig a little deeper than the bylaw itself to help people understand, I think that’s what very helpful.”
For a more on conference realignment, watch the video below.