Given the current climate surrounding the NCAA’s enforcement staff, it is no great surprise that a lot of attention was paid to what is normally a non-event: a staff member of a regulatory agency moving into the private sector. Dave Didion, a director of enforcement for the NCAA, finished his 14-year tenure with the association Friday before heading to Auburn to take over as associate AD for compliance.
Didion, who has 25 years experience in compliance and enforcement, previously worked at Auburn from 1995 to 1999 as the assistant director of athletics for compliance before leaving to work for the NCAA. He is the latest of several enforcement officials to leave the NCAA during the 2 1/2-year tenure of President Mark Emmert.
Any departure from the NCAA, especially from the enforcement staff, looks suspect at the moment. The disagreement within the NCAA about the handling of the misconduct in the Miami case would suggest that more voluntary departures might be coming as well.
But the NCAA will never have perfect morale in the enforcement staff and will always have a bit of a revolving door. That is part of the challenge of being the regulator or government agency overseeing an industry. The more effective the NCAA’s enforcement staff is, the more likely that schools will try to poach employees.
While Didion did not just serve a couple years in Indianapolis to get “NCAA” on his resume and bolt, attaching a lot of significance to his departure requires reading quite a bit into the decision. More likely than not, this is nothing more than the case of someone being offered a better position with a former employer he feels comfortable with.