In the fall, the NCAA’s long, halting process of transitioning all routine membership business to the internet will be basically complete. What started with LSDBi, Compliance Assistant and the Eligibility Center will conclude when AMA (Academic and Membership Affairs) Online becomes Requests and Self Reports Online (RSRO) this summer.
In an announcement to the membership, the NCAA explained the process for adding requests for interpretive assistance to the AMA Online system. This new web application, which will allow NCAA conferences and institutions to ask for clarification on NCAA rules, will be rolled out to conference offices in a pilot program starting in May. Later in the summer, it will open up to all NCAA member institutions.
In the fall though is the big change:
Finally, this fall, the membership will be required to use the interpretations feature to request interpretive assistance from AMA.
That means the days of calling the NCAA’s interpretations hotline and chatting with an NCAA staff member will be over. On the one hand, this means losing a bit of personal contact between members and the national office. On the other hand, calling the hotline was notoriously hit or miss, and institutions regularly complained of inconsistent answers. Verbal interpretations often left a lot of room to read between the lines and extract the answer you want from the answer you were given.
So now all regular membership business will be transacted online (or at least start online), including:
- Eligibility Center;
- Rules interpretations;
- Academic Performance Program (APR and grad rates);
- Annual NCAA demographic and financial reporting;
- Compliance Assistant;
- Secondary Violation Reporting;
- Requests for waivers and reinstatement.
Despite all the work completed over the last decade plus, there is still a lot for the NCAA’s technical staff to do. All of these functions need to transition to mobile, a process just now starting with a mobile version of LSDBi available to the membership. But beyond responsive websites, the NCAA needs to develop native mobile applications so athletic departments can easily manage business with the national office on the go.
Once the membership has kicked the tires on these new tools and the major bugs have been squashed, more need to be open to the public. Access to the systems for reporting violations or submitting APR numbers is unnecessary. But limiting access to NCAA interpretations and Education Columns makes no sense. Besides it being new, there is also no reason for a members-only mobile LSDBi site. And there’s a good conversation to be had about opening up the database of secondary violations and waiver precedent to the world.
With all the talk about membership frustration with the NCAA, this transition to online business should help with some of the routine complaints. There will be a transition period to be sure, but eliminating faxing of documents, getting answers in writing tracked by a system the membership can see, and eliminating some of the long waits on hold should make this type of work with the NCAA more efficient.