UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- As part of National Corporate Compliance and Week, the Penn State Office of Ethics and Compliance (OEC) is highlighting the work of all its various units. Three elements within OEC – the Athletics Compliance Office, the University’s Athletics Integrity Officer and the Office of Commonwealth Campus Athletics – help Penn State’s athletic programs reflect the University’s values.
Athletics Compliance Office
The mission of the Athletics Compliance Office is to help ensure that the 31 varsity programs on the University Park campus operate in full compliance with NCAA and Big Ten conference rules. The primary functions of the office include educating student athletes, coaches, staff and external constituents; compliance monitoring; investigating and reporting rules violations; and working with the NCAA and Big Ten on waivers, legislation and rule interpretations.
Athletics compliance staff also serve as the athletics department’s primary liaison to University Housing, Undergraduate Admissions, the Office of the University Registrar and the Office of Student Aid. In partnership with the Athletics Integrity Officer, the Athletics Compliance Office helps manage Penn State’s Athletics Integrity Program, which annually delivers baseline knowledge on NCAA, Big Ten and institutional standards to more than 1,300 individuals associated with varsity athletics through training sessions. These trainings are typically held in-person, but have shifted to a virtual format for the 2020-21 academic year.
The Athletics Compliance Office consists of seven compliance professionals under the leadership of Associate Athletics Director for Compliance Matt Stolberg, with diverse backgrounds that include prior compliance and administrative experience at institutions including the University of Iowa, Ohio State, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Northwestern University, Michigan State University and the NCAA. A key focus of the staff is serving the Penn State community through provision of interpretive and educational services. On a monthly basis, the Athletics Compliance Office provides approximately 100 rule interpretations. Community members with questions are encouraged to submit them via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Athletics Integrity Officer
Recognizing that many serious issues related to intercollegiate athletics fall outside of NCAA or Big Ten rules, Penn State is one of the first institutions to have established the role of an Athletics Integrity Officer. Robert Boland, an experienced sports attorney and professor who has led major sports law and sports management programs at New York University and Ohio University, has served as Athletics Integrity Officer since July 2017.
The Athletics Integrity Officer -- a senior administrator reporting outside athletics but engaged with intercollegiate athletics at University Park and on the Commonwealth Campuses -- helped the University to exit a probationary period with the NCAA two years earlier than scheduled. The Athletic Integrity Officer provides neutral investigatory expertise; assists with policy development, education and implementation of best practice standards within intercollegiate athletics; and serves as a liaison with other partners across the University, including the Office of Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response, the Affirmative Action Office, the Office of Student Conduct, University Police and Public Safety, the Office of General Counsel and Human Resources
In 2017, Penn State President Eric Barron announced that the University would continue all athletic oversight practices begun under NCAA and Big Ten mandate in 2012, marking a major voluntary commitment to University oversight of intercollegiate athletics.
The Athletics Integrity Officer reports both to President Barron and the Penn State Board of Trustees Committee on Legal and Compliance. The Athletics Integrity Officer also convenes the Athletics Integrity Council, a group of senior University leaders charged with institutional oversight of intercollegiate athletics.
Commonwealth Campus Athletics
Penn State is home to 19 intercollegiate athletic programs on campuses across Pennsylvania. The Commonwealth Campus Athletics Office provides support and oversight for nearly 200 teams and more than 2,500 student athletes who compete in either NCAA Division III or the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA). Director of Commonwealth Campus Athletics Maureen Cooper brings to the office experience in NCAA Division I conference offices and athletic departments.
Within this office, Penn State also operates its own intercollegiate athletic conference -- the Penn State University Athletic Conference (PSUAC), made up of 14 campuses that also compete nationally in the USCAA. The conference offers 10 championship events and an awards platform for student athletes to be recognized for achievements in the classroom and on the field. The remaining Commonwealth Campuses compete in one of two Division III conferences in the region. The conference office oversees eligibility and compliance for PSUAC members and assists Division III campuses with navigating their own set of rules. The office also has created additional opportunities for Commonwealth Campuses by helping centralize various vendor and apparel agreements, as well as live streaming and recruiting software.