By Dave Glenn
June 29, 2006
North Carolina football coach John Bunting once failed it. N.C. State basketball coach Sidney Lowe felt overwhelmed by it.
Both men ultimately passed the NCAA rules test after additional studying, Bunting rebounded with a perfect score but it wasn't easy.
"Coming from the NFL, I was entering a new world," said Bunting, an assistant coach with the New Orleans Saints before taking the UNC job in December 2000. "Have you ever seen the NCAA rulebook? That's a lot of information (to learn) in a short amount of time, especially for a new coach."
"My disadvantage is that I've been away from the college game for the last 20 years," said Lowe, a former NBA player and head coach who served as an assistant with the Detroit Pistons in 2005-06. "We didn't have rules like this in the NBA."
How much time did Lowe put into studying the NCAA rulebook in late May and most of June, after accepting the N.C. State job?
"A lot," Lowe said. "The book is really thick."
While Bunting and Lowe have lengthy backgrounds in the professional ranks in common, they aren't the only college coaches who needed to pass the NCAA rules test before they could become full-fledged recruiters for their respective programs.
Every coach head or assistant in every sport must pass the exam every year in order to gain (or maintain) the ability to recruit off-campus. Those without a passing score are limited to phone calls, e-mails, text-messages, letters and other aspects of on-campus recruiting.
That limitation obviously would be a huge disadvantage at those times of year when certified coaches are permitted to visit prospects in their homes or at their high schools, or during evaluation periods such as (in basketball) the July shoe-camp circuit. Any complications, especially for a head coach, can lead to serious recruiting repercussions.
In the weeks before Lowe was able to pass the test, NCSU assistant coaches Larry Harris, Pete Strickland and Monte Towe handled most of the Wolfpack's recruiting duties. State had appealed to the NCAA for a waiver that would have allowed Lowe to visit the team's November signees (Larry Davis, Dennis Horner, Dan Werner) before passing the exam, but the appeal was denied.
Lowe's inability to travel to see Herb Sendek's recruits in the weeks after he accepted the State job complicated his goal of retaining them. Werner ultimately paid his own way to Raleigh to visit with Lowe face-to-face (on campus, as permitted), and Horner seemed content with his decision all along, but Davis switched to Seton Hall without ever seeing Lowe in person. Werner ultimately committed to Florida, one of the four schools he visited as he waited to meet with Lowe.
Those developments cost the Pack its only two top-100 recruits and, combined with the early departure of sophomore center Cedric Simmons for the NBA, temporarily left the team with only eight scholarship players (out of the permissible 13) for the upcoming season. Lowe later signed Maine prep school product Bartosz Lewandowski and Iowa State point guard Farnold Degand, but the 7-2 Lewandowski is considered a long-term project and Degand (under NCAA transfer rules) will be limited to practicing with the team in 2006-07.
The NCAA exam, which consists of 40 true-false and multiple-choice questions about three (recruiting, eligibility, financial aid) important compliance topics, is not designed to be difficult. It's an open-book test, coaches have 80 minutes to provide the answers, and practice tests are available as preparation guides. A score of 80 percent (32 of 40) or better is a passing grade, and the exam can be taken on-line, with the results available immediately.
However, there is one huge incentive for coaches to take each attempt at the exam very seriously: Those who fail must wait 30 days to take it again. In Lowe's case, that meant he had only one shot between his introductory press conference at NCSU and his scheduled official starting date of July 1. He ultimately passed the test less than three weeks before the start of the crucial July evaluation period on the national recruiting trail.
"It's not one of those tests you can just keep taking until you pass it," N.C. State athletic director Lee Fowler said. "It doesn't make any sense to try it until you're ready for it."
Below is a sample NCAA rules test for men's basketball. (Answers to some questions may be different for other sports.) Our sample test consists of only 20 questions, so limit yourself to 40 minutes. (Even if you have an NCAA manual nearby and do a lot of cross-checking, the time limit shouldn't be a problem.) You'll need at least 16 correct answers to pass.
1. True or false: Coaches can receive telephone calls from a prospect at any time, and without restrictions on the content of the conversation, when the calls are placed at the prospect's expense.
2. A coach may make in-person, off-campus recruiting contacts with a high school prospect or the prospect's relatives or legal guardian(s) only as follows:
(a) Beginning Jan. 1 of the prospect's junior year.
(b) Beginning Sept. 9 (i.e., the first date of the fall contact period) of the prospect's senior year.
(c) Beginning Sept. 9 (i.e., the first date of the fall contact period) of the prospect's junior year.
(d) Beginning Jan. 1 of the prospect's sophomore year.
3. True or false: An institution's camp or clinic for prospects can be conducted only during the months of June, July or August.
4. A coach evaluates a contest in which Hector is a prospect on Team A, and Team A is playing Team B. For whom did the men's basketball coach use an evaluation?
(b) All prospects in the contest.
(c) All prospects on Team A.
(d) All prospects on Team B.
5. True or false: During a prospect's official visit, a member of an institution's faculty may have contact with the prospect only on the institution's campus.
6. A full grant-in-aid consists of:
(a) Tuition and fees, room and board only.
(b) Tuition and fees, room and board, and required course-related books only.
(c) Tuition and fees, course-related books and transportation only.
(d) Tuition and fees only.
7. True or false: A representative of an institution's athletics interest (i.e., booster) may attend a game in which a prospect participates, notify the prospect of the institution's interest, and correspond with the prospect through e-mail.
8. Which of the following communication methods with a senior prospective student-athlete is NOT permissible?
(a) Instant-messenger conversation.
(b) Videotaped message to the prospect on a CD-ROM.
(c) Mass e-mail letter noting season's
(d) Standard postcard with greeting from team.
9. True or false: A prearranged electronic conversation (e.g., "chat room" session) or any electronic correspondence sent by "instant messenger" between an authorized staff member and one or more prospects is considered a telephone call for purposes of NCAA regulations.
10. An institution is permitted how many recruiting opportunities (contacts and evaluations combined) for a single prospect during a single academic year?
11. True or false: During an official visit, a member institution may provide entertainment on a scale comparable to that of normal student life and not excessive in nature to a prospect and his or her parents, legal guardians or spouse within 50 miles of the institution's campus.
12. A student-athlete at University College would like to transfer and notifies the institution of his desire to transfer. State Tech contacts University College about the student-athlete's interest; however, University College informs State Tech that it will not permit contact with the student-athlete to any institution. What is required of University College now that it has denied State Tech's request for permission to contact the
(a) Inform the student-athlete to withdraw from University College.
(b) No other action is necessary.
(c) Inform the student-athlete of a hearing opportunity to appeal the denial of contact.
(d) None of the above.
13. True or false: The following scenario is an example of permissible recruiting contact. An enrolled student-athlete is going home for the Christmas holidays, and the head coach reminds the student-athlete that the student-athlete's former high school will be participating in a tournament. The institution is recruiting a prospect on the student-athlete's former high school team. The coach reminds the student-athlete to make sure that contact is made with the prospect.
14. An academic qualifier has completed which of the following requirements:
(a) A corresponding ACT or SAT score and core course grade-point average.
(b) Completion of 14 core courses in specified subject areas.
(c) Graduation from high school.
(d) All of the above.
15. True or false: If a men's basketball prospect requests information from an institution's athletic department prior to the conclusion of his sophomore year of high school, institutional staff members may respond to the request in writing, provided the response does not include any information that would initiate recruitment and is not related to the institution's athletic program.
16. Which of the following is NOT a prohibited form of pay with regard to NCAA Division I amateurism regulations?
(a) Actual and necessary expenses for practice and competition from an amateur sports team.
(c) Educational expenses provided directly to a prospect (as opposed to the educational institution on behalf of the prospect).
(d) All of the above are prohibited forms of pay.
17. True or false: Your institution may host a group workout or combine involving prospects, provided the athletic department staff is not involved in conducting the activity, except for activities incidental to supervising the facilities.
18. Prospects enrolled during the summer term at an institution prior to initial full-time collegiate enrollment may use the institution's academic services and training room facilities provided:
(a) The prospect has verbally committed to the institution.
(b) The prospect is an individual who resides in the community.
(c) The prospect has signed a National Letter of Intent (or written offer of admission and/or financial aid for those institutions that do not subscribe to the National Letter of Intent) with the institution and is attending the institution's summer school.
(d) a and b only.
19. True or false: An institution may pay the actual cost for reasonable expenses (e.g., meals, lodging) incurred by a prospect while en route to and from campus on an official visit.
20. In order for a student-athlete to be eligible for competition at your institution for any regular academic term, what is the minimum number of degree-credit hours that the student-athlete must have successfully completed in the previous term?
(d) No minimum.
1. True. Institutional staff members may receive telephone calls from a prospect placed at the prospect's expense at any time without any restrictions on the content of the conversation. (NCAA Bylaw 188.8.131.52.2).
(b). A coach may make in-person, off-campus recruiting contacts with a prospect or the prospect's relatives or legal guardian(s) only as follows: (1) High school prospect A coach may make in-person, off-campus recruiting contacts with a prospect or the prospect's parents or legal guardian(s) beginning Sept. 9 (i.e., the first date of the fall contact period) of the prospect's senior year. U.S. service academy exceptions to this provision are set forth in NCAA Bylaw 13.16.1. (13.01.5, 184.108.40.206.2, 220.127.116.11).
True. An institution's basketball camp or clinic may be conducted only during the months of June, July and August, or any calendar week (Sunday-Saturday) that includes days of those months. However, institutional camps and clinics may not be conducted during a dead period. (18.104.22.168.2, 22.214.171.124).
(b). Any number of evaluations or observations made during the same calendar day (defined as 12:01 a.m. to midnight) count as one evaluation. Observing a contest or practice or an event in which prospects from multiple institutions participate during the academic year shall count as an evaluation for each prospect in the contest, practice or event even if contact is made during the same day. However, tournament games held on consecutive days (and normally at the same site) count as one evaluation. Also, games held within the same tier of a tournament (e.g., sectional, district, regional) count as one evaluation. (126.96.36.199, 188.8.131.52, 184.108.40.206).
False. Faculty members may have recruiting contacts with prospects on campus or within 30 miles of an institution's campus during a prospect's official visit. (220.127.116.11-a).
(b). A full grant-in-aid consists of tuition and fees, room and board, and required course-related books only.
False. In-person recruiting contact by boosters is prohibited, as are written (including electronic correspondence) and telephonic communications with the prospect and the prospect's relatives. (13.01.4).
(b). An institution may not produce a recruiting video to show or send to a prospect (or the prospect's coach). (18.104.22.168).
False. The definition of a telephone call does not include a facsimile or other electronically transmitted correspondence (e.g., electronic mail, instant messenger, facsimiles, pages, text messaging). All electronically transmitted human voice exchange (including videoconferencing and videophones) shall be considered telephone calls. (13.02.14).
(a). Each institution is permitted seven recruiting opportunities (contacts and evaluations combined) during the academic year per prospect per year. During the prospect's senior year, not more than three of the seven opportunities may be off-campus contacts. Evaluations outside the academic year do not count against the annual number of permissible recruiting opportunities. (22.214.171.124, 126.96.36.199).
False. During an official visit, an institution may provide meals, lodging and entertainment only for the prospect and the prospect's parents (or legal guardians), spouse or children. All entertainment on the official visit must take place within a 30-mile radius of the institution's main campus. (188.8.131.52).
(c). University College must inform the student-athlete of a hearing opportunity to appeal the denial of contact. (184.108.40.206, 220.127.116.11.1).
False. An enrolled student-athlete (or enrolled student) may make off-campus recruiting contacts with prospects if they are unavoidable and incidental and do not occur at the direction of the coaching staff. (13.02.5.1-a).
(d). All of the above. (14.02.9.2, 18.104.22.168).
True. Institutions may not send prospects recruiting materials (including general correspondence related to athletics) until June 15 of the conclusion of the prospect's sophomore year in high school. (13.4.1, 22.214.171.124).
(a). Actual and necessary expenses for practice and competition from an amateur sports team are not a prohibited form of pay with regard to NCAA Division I amateurism regulations. (126.96.36.199, 188.8.131.52.3.1, 184.108.40.206.4.1, 220.127.116.11.4.3).
False. (18.104.22.168, Proposal No. 2005-155).
(c) Prospects enrolled during the summer term at an institution prior to initial full-time collegiate enrollment may use the institution's academic services and training room facilities provided the prospect has signed a National Letter of Intent (or written offer of admission and/or financial aid for those institutions that do not subscribe to the National Letter of Intent) with the institution and is attending the institution's summer school. (13.2.7).
True. An institution may pay the actual cost for reasonable expenses (e.g., meals, lodging) incurred by a prospect while en route to and from campus on an official visit. (22.214.171.124.1).
(c). In order for a student-athlete to be eligible for competition for any regular academic term, he must have successfully completed six degree-credit hours in the previous term. (126.96.36.199-a).
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