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Guest Post: So what does a compliance officer actually...do?

Especially on a GameDay?

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Good morning, and thanks for spending part of your day with Extra Points.

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One thing we try to do here at Extra Points is pull back the curtain a bit and show the world what the folks who work in college sports…actually do.

To that end, I’d like the turn today’s newsletter over to Cody Jackson, the Associate AD for Academic and Compliance Services at Samford. Cody thought it would be instructive to show the world an example of what he actually does during a football game week.

If you have suggestions for other behind-the-scenes type folks we ought to highlight on Extra Points, drop me a line at [email protected].

With that, I’ll turn the time over to Cody:

Each Saturday (or Tuesday if you’re blessed enough to be a C-USA alum like me), as hundreds of thousands gather to attend their school’s football game and millions find themselves on the couch from the time Darius Rucker and friends are comin’ to your citay to Hawaii’s midnight kick, teams of athletic staffers work to ensure their home game goes off without a hitch. This is my 12th college football season behind the scenes, and along with our Marketing, Facilities and Operations and Ticketing departments, we all start preparing days out from kickoff. A home game, even for an FCS program, means one of the busiest weeks of the year

Compliance directors, even on gameday, work behind the scenes to ensure recruiting legislation is followed. Starting 9 days out from kickoff, I met with our Director of Football Operations and Director of Football Management to plan out the best path for our recruits’ check-in to receive their complimentary tickets, pregame field access credentials, and meet with the coaches.

At Samford, our campus is undergoing a major construction project surrounding the campus rec center and the North endzone of our Football stadium, which has significantly interrupted our normal operations. Our usual stadium gate for recruits is now a ramp for heavy machinery to enter at field level. The three of us met to make sure that regardless of the construction, our recruits are treated to a first-class experience.

On the Tuesday of each game week, our Associate AD for Facilities, Game Operations, and Equipment leads an all-hands meeting with everyone in our department that has gameday related duties. This meeting also includes any of our partners across campus that make a football Saturday run smoothly. This past week was our conference home opener and Family Weekend, so our Alumni and Parent Programming groups were in attendance as well. Discussions about needs for tables, tents, chairs were had. What will concessions look like with the expected extra crowd?.

For me, how many recruits are we expecting? Any other non-Football visits coming? This group of about 35 people have an open dialogue about each of our areas and what everyone else in the room can expect come Saturday. This weekly meeting allows for us to be as prepared as possible for the inevitable chaos that comes a few days later.

Wednesday and Thursday are a little bit lighter for game prep, at least out of my office. I met with our Game Operations staff to get our recruiting credentials finalized. At the initial meeting with our Football staff, we had a thought about switching up how we utilize credentials for recruits and their guests. One final chat with Game Ops, and we’re squared away. With this past weekend being both Family Weekend and a junior preview day, we also were expecting a good crowd for non-Football visits as well. To ensure no one gets lost in the shuffle with our Football PSAs, I sent an email to our coaches reminding them to get us names of their recruits and their families to make sure we are ready to expect them as well.

Friday of game week, the hay is almost in the barn, with just a few more final preparations are being made. In addition to sharing responsibility for our recruits, most Compliance offices, including ours, are responsible for administering complimentary tickets for our players and their families, known as player pass.

The player pass window closes at noon the day before a game. With a little over 400 comp tickets being requested, this gives our Ticket Office the time to prepare and print those tickets to be ready for me to pick up on Saturday morning. A few minutes after the list closes, I sent over to the Ticket Office with exact numbers for our tickets. This week, we had 409 player pass tickets and 115 confirmed recruit tickets, plus a few extras just in case.

Friday, 4:38pm - first request from a player to make a change on his list. Thankfully, using compliance software, I am able to access and update any of our ticket requests, so an easy switch is made.

Saturday. Gameday. Time for things to really ramp up and put our prep to work. This is our 2nd home game of the year, but first Saturday game. Thursday night games are fun, but Saturday really feels like Football.

6:45am - My alarm goes off.

8:25am - Leave the house to head to campus. Make a pit-stop at McDonald’s to get the same gameday breakfast biscuit I’ve gotten for every home game I’ve worked at Samford. I guess coaches’ superstitions have worn off on me.

9:00am - Arrive on campus, finish preparing credentials. Each one for a recruit gets a rubber band and a label with their name, high school and graduation year. Guests get something similar.

9:10am - Second request to add tickets from a player.

9:13am - Third request.

9:45am - Have a break, look at @PodKATT’s feed, get jealous of not being able to tailgate. To be honest, that may be one of the things I miss most about working in athletics.

9:55am - Shoot a quick text to our Olympic coaches with a reminder about where to bring their recruits to check-in. Tens of thousands of people are on our usually quiet campus, so the more instructions we can provide, the better.

10:15am - Watch the last few minutes of Men’s Basketball skill instruction (practice if you aren’t a compliance director) as I wait for the last of our tickets to be printed

10:45am - Take a quick lap around Seibert Stadium to make sure we have all the tents, tables, and chairs my group needs. Seibert is a small stadium (about 6,000 capacity) without a ton of infrastructure for ticketing needs, so pop-up tents and A-frames signify where to go for our guests. Our player pass is set up on one side of our Football fieldhouse, with recruits set up on the other.

11:00am - Pop upstairs in our Football building to brief the student workers that will be manning the recruiting check-in. This group, for us and other small schools, are a lifeline that we cannot do without. Samford is very lucky to have a sports management program that believes in real-life experience, so their ability to get involved on gameday makes all the difference in the world for full-time staff.

11:15am - Grab a quick pregame meal. This will be the last time I eat until I head home for the day.

11:30am - Get dressed in the athletic staffer gameday uniform. School polo? Check. Golf pants? Check. Walkie-talkie? Check.

11:40am - Check in with my graduate assistant who will be taking the lead on player pass for this game. She is in her 2nd year with us, so it's an easy update.

11:45am - Head down to the field, get ready for the recruit check-in to open at noon.

12:00pm - Recruit gate opens. Immediately discover that the new check-in area will cause a traffic jam once the players arrive at the building in a few minutes from their pregame Dog Walk.

12:20pm - Although not officially open until 12:30pm, we go ahead and start checking in player guests to ease the strain on our Ticket staff.

12:30pm - Stadium gates open. At this time, it’s just a continuous check-in of player’s families on one end of the fieldhouse and recruits on the other.

1:15pm - Football recruits start to trickle back into the stadium after a campus tour. Their pregame activities after check-in includes mingling with their position and recruiting coaches as well as a quick talk from our Head Coach, and then a tour across our campus. Once they return, they are afforded field access to watch our guys warmup before heading to their seats.

1:50p - 12 minutes til kickoff, I walk the recruits over to their seats.

2:02pm - Kickoff. Watch the first part of the game via Statbroadcast since we can’t see the field from player pass.

7:00 minutes remaining in the 1st half - Shut down the player pass check-in. At this point, guests that are attending are in the stadium. Quickly head up to my office to drop off my things so I can be out of the way of our visiting team, whose locker room is unfortunately directly across from my office, before heading back down to the field to watch the rest of the game from the sideline.

5:04pm - 0:00 on the clock for a disappointing game for the Bulldogs, but all in all a success with a near school record crowd in attendance. Head out, making sure to say thank you to the security staff on the way out before making my way home to settle in for the start of the night games.

7:15pm - Look at @actioncookbook’s feed; get jealous about tailgating all over again.

The players and coaches get the (deserved) shine on gameday, but for every kickoff, every touchdown, every 4 minute 30 second commercial break, there’s a small army of athletic staffers doing their best to have the smoothest gameday experience for everyone else outside the field.

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