Mark Helfrich’s deal with Oregon includes NCAA rules mandates
The contract between the University of Oregon and its new head football coach, Mark Helfrich, contains an unusual set of specific provisions related to NCAA rules compliance, including a requirement that Helfrich “actively look for red flags of potential violations.”
The five-year agreement, signed Sunday and distributed to members of the media in Eugene, explicitly acknowledges the NCAA’s ongoing investigation into the football program, although it does not mention specifics of the probe. The deal also has a lengthy exhibit laying out a 10-point set of responsibilities that Helfrich has in monitoring rules compliance and the terms of annual communication required to occur between Helfrich, the university president, the athletics director and the compliance director.
Such an exhibit did not exist in any of the three iterations of previous Oregon coach Chip Kelly’s agreement. While provisions requiring compliance with NCAA rules are standard in college athletics contracts, the requirements of Helfrich’s deal are extraordinary in scope and detail.
Oregon athletics director Rob Mullens did not respond to requests for comment that were made through a school spokesman.
Multiple media outlets have reported on a financial relationship Oregon had with Texas-based high school football recruiting scout and adviser Willie Lyles, who is alleged to have steered players to Oregon in violation of NCAA rules. Yahoo! Sports reported in December that Oregon’s attempt to get summary disposition of its case fell through, and the school has been summoned for a hearing the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions.
In addition, this past October, the NCAA Division I Board of Directors adopted rule changes that, beginning Aug. 1, will allow head coaches to be penalized individually for violations committed by their assistants, unless they can prove they took preventive steps to acknowledge potential violations and educate their staff about how to deal with issues.
In the main body of his new contract, Helfrich “acknowledges and represents that he has been given the opportunity to report to the University any conduct that would give rise to an allegation that he has violated any rules, regulations policies, bylaws, interpretations or decisions established or issued” by the school, its athletics department, the Pacific-12 Conference and the NCAA and Helfrich “has reported any such conduct to the school.” When hiring a coach from another school, some schools require the coach to stipulate that he has not been involved with rules violations at his previous school.
In addition, in Helfrich’s deal, athletics director Rob Mullens “acknowledges and represents as follows: (1) Coach has been advised of the nature and scope of all ongoing NCAA investigation of violations of NCAA rules, regulations, bylaws, interpretations or decisions by any current and former University employees in the University’s football program; and (2) Coach has been advised of the material facts constituting the violations alleged by the NCAA.”
There also is an exhibit that is part of the agreement and covers communication about, and monitoring of, NCAA rules compliance.
Under the heading of “Communication,” the exhibit states that the president and the athletics director will meet with Helfrich annually to discuss their “expectations for NCAA rules compliance.”
The meeting with the athletic director is to address:
— The AD’s philosophy and expectations on rules compliance.
— Compliance resources for the football program.
— The football program’s shared responsibility with the compliance staff.
— Continued dialogue with the AD to “discuss the institution and football program’s compliance environment and expectations.”
In addition, the president, AD, compliance director and coach “will meet annually to discuss the institution and program’s compliance environment and expectations.”
Under the heading of “Monitoring,” the exhibit states that Helfrich will “actively look for red flags of potential violations.”
In consultation with the compliance director, Helfrich agrees to:
— Create written procedures “to ensure that the football staff, including assistant coaches, is monitoring the football program’s rules compliance.”
— Assign a football staff liaison to the university’s compliance staff.
— Assign football staff members to “monitor specific areas of compliance (e.g. recruiting contacts, initial eligibility, amateurism, telephone contacts).”
— Regularly evaluate football staff members “to ensure their areas of compliance are monitored and that all responsibilities are executed in a timely manner.”
— Ensure that the football program has adequate and ongoing compliance training and that there is “a plan in place for discussion of important information.”
— Determine reporting lines for resolving actual and potential NCAA rules issues.
— Determine reporting lines to alert compliance staff of “issues involving prospective student-athletes and current student-athletes”.
— “Regularly solicit feedback” from the football staff concerning their areas of compliance and the program’s overall compliance environment in order to “ensure that the monitoring systems are functioning properly.”
— Ensure that the football staff “immediately notifies the compliance staff when concerns or red flags occur related to potential NCAA rules violations.”
This article was selected for educational purposes only.