Since first arriving on campus in January 2006, Eastern Washington University president Rodolpho Arévalo has championed the cause of athletics, funding an expansion and reporting-structure makeover in the once woefully undermanned compliance department.
It was the shoddy and ill-financed compliance setup Arévalo inherited that contributed in a big way to the oversights that brought the NCAA sanctions on the football program.
Eastern’s sole compliance officer at the time also served as the athletic department’s faculty representative and taught a full schedule of classes. It was a situation that raised all kinds of red flags for Arévalo, but before he could put his plan to add compliance personnel and revamp the reporting structure in place, the NCAA’s investigation and subsequent issuing sanctions played out.
Since then, the athletic department has added an associate athletic director, Don Ross, who serves the dual role of Chief Operating Officer and NCAA Compliance Officer and reports directly to the president, along with another full-time compliance officer and academic coordinator who report directly to Ross.
“We made the financial commitment to change things,” Arévalo said. “And I think we’ve got the right structure now.”
In addition, the university has added stipulations to the contracts of its coaches that require them to take a more active role in policing themselves and the rest of the department.
“Our contracts with coaches, to a certain extent, didn’t say anything about their responsibility for compliance,” Arévalo said. “Well, that’s changed. And now there’s a very clear paragraph on the fact that if you don’t watch out and keep track of compliance issues, it might end up being a reason you might not be around.”