Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department or School

Leadership and Counseling

Committee Member

James Berry, EdD, Chair

Committee Member

Charles M. Achilles, EdD

Committee Member

Kenneth A. McKanders, JD


Background: Institutions face significant risks related to athletics compliance. While risk assessment has been a standard part of compliance programs outside higher education, it has not been among the tools of NCAA athletics compliance.

Purpose: To (a) identify the methods and steps of using risk assessment in intercollegiate athletics compliance and (b) evaluate the effects of risk assessment on the athletics compliance operation communication and decision making about compliance, interactions with the NCAA, and compliance outcomes.

Research Design: The researched employed a nonexperimental descriptive case study design. Setting: The research site was a Division I institution. The institution was purposively selected on the basis of its staff’s experience with both risk management and NCAA athletics, as well as the representative size of its compliance staff (one full-time professional and one administrative assistant).

Data Collection and Analysis: Two kinds of data were collected, interview data and documents. Informants included (a) the president, (b) athletics staff members, (c) an athletics council member, and (d) institutional and system-wide compliance staff members, as well as (e) the conference compliance director and (f) two NCAA enforcement staff members. The interviews were primarily one to one and face to face. Relevant documents were collected and reviewed.

The risk-based compliance process was observed to include (a) risk assessment, (b) risk management, and (c) risk assurance. Risk assessment included scanning the environment and identifying, rating, prioritizing, and reporting risks. Risk management included identifying specific risks in high-priority risk areas, developing risk-mitigation plans, and implementing the plans. Risk assurance included the review of compliance activities by outside parties to verify the controls.

Findings: The findings indicated that risk management had been successfully incorporated into athletics compliance and had positive effects on the compliance function and on communication and decision making about compliance and other athletics risks. No changes were observed in the program’s interactions with the NCAA. The athletics compliance program was seen as well-functioning and effective.

Conclusion: The conclusion is that risk management was effective at this institution, could be applied more widely in athletics compliance, and is a potentially powerful and beneficial approach for protecting institutions against athletics risks.


Additional committee member: Robert Carpenter, PhD