Cavalier Corner

April 2017

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26 ◆ CAVALIER CORNER The University of Virginia (UVA) Athletics Department is very appreciative of the support of all VAF members. As a supporter of Virginia athletics, the NCAA considers an individual as a repre- sentative of our athletics interests or "booster." As a booster, the NCAA has strict rules governing interactions with both prospec- tive and current student-athletes and their families. Specifically, VAF members may not provide an "extra benefit" to prospective or current student-athletes or their family members. The term "extra benefit" refers to any special arrangement by an institutional employee or VAF member to provide the student- athlete or his/her relatives or friends with a benefit not expressly authorized by NCAA legislation. Oftentimes, VAF members become acquainted with UVA student-athletes and their parents or family members as a result of attending home or away contests or after learning that their son or daughter is a student-athlete at UVA outside of the competition arena. While the interactions are permissible, the UVA Compliance Office would like to remind VAF members of what an established relationship means for NCAA purposes and that providing benefits or services (e.g., use of a ticket, providing a meal or paying for a meal at a restaurant, staying at a donor's home, etc.), regardless of the value, would be an extra benefit and impermissible under NCAA legislation. The NCAA defines an established relationship as a relationship that either pre-dates when the student-athlete became a prospective student-athlete (Grade 9) or enrolled at UVA (first-year). There- fore, meeting or getting to know a student-athlete or their parents/ family members once enrolled at UVA would not meet the definition of an established relationship. For example, an extra benefit violation was reported when the parent of a student-athlete received a ticket from a booster to attend a game. The violation was unin- tentional and involved the parent receiving a ticket to attend a home contest from the booster. The par- ent did not have a prior relationship with the booster and by accepting the benefit caused an NCAA violation. The UVA Compliance Office would like to thank all VAF mem- bers for their support of Virginia Athletics. The UVA Compliance Office understands the complexities of the NCAA's rules and is here to assist VAF members to prevent what would seem as a harmless activity from being an NCAA violation. I encourage any VAF member to call the UVA Compliance Office at 434/982- 5018 or email at if there are any questions about prospective, current or former student-athletes. In the long run, it is better for VAF members, UVA Athletics and the University for everyone to "Ask Before You Act." Eric Baumgartner Associate Athletics Director for Compliance COMPLIANCE CORNER BENEFITS TO STUDENT-ATHLETES, PARENTS OR FAMILY MEMBERS Rijo Walker, a University of Virginia alumnus from Hampton, Va., has been striving for excellence since he arrived on Grounds. Competing for the University of Virginia football program from 2010-13, Walker did not miss a single game during his four years of eligibility, competing in all possible 49 games. Walker knew playing professionally would be a long shot and believed being honest with himself was the first step towards preparing for his life after intercolle- giate athletics. Like many graduating student-athletes, Walker never conducted a formal job search. So what exactly sparked his interest and desire to work in inter- collegiate athletics? Walker was watching a SEC showdown in November 2014; Ole Miss was taking on Auburn. Laquon Treadwell, a wide receiver for the Rebels, was draft worthy as he was wreaking havoc in the SEC. With Walker watching, Treadwell suffered a season-ending injury. Walker indicated, "Everyone moved on and forgot about Treadwell." Determined to ensure no student- athletes are forgotten, Walker sought out coaching positions. He coached at Virginia State University then returned to the University of Virginia in June 2015 as the special team's graduate assistant. With the coaching change in January 2016, Walker shifted his focus towards recruiting the right type of student-athlete to the University of Virginia. How did these experiences land him a position as the Team Operations Coordinator for the College Football Playoff? Walker states, "This is a dream job and I am humbled to be here. It's great to learn from some of the best people in the sports business but to say I had my eye on operations would not be the truth; I was doing all these different things because I didn't know what I wanted to do." While Walker did not plan on entering a career in op- erations, his experience as a student-athlete combined with his coaching and recruiting experience fostered his ability to consider the coaches, student-athletes and fans perspectives. Although Walker was unsure what career he would pursue, those who worked with him could predict his success. Justin Anderson, Director of Player Personnel for the Football program stated, "Rijo was diligent and hardworking, he was always trying to improve and was always all in. That is why I believe he is so successful now." Walker, having just successfully executed his first College Football Playoff, sees himself returning to a college campus someday. He states, "I see myself in an athletics director role one day. I'd even like to teach a class or create programming that helps student-athletes get internships and develop their business knowledge." When asked why he supports Virginia athletics, Walker says, "Learning that donor support funds scholarships opened my eyes to how unique UVA is, it is something I want to be a part of. If this is the one small way that I can help student-athletes at this time then that is what I'll do. It's never been all about me. I invest in my University and help promote it to future generations." What advice does Walker have for current student-athletes? "You have so much within you that translates into the work environment, but student-athletes can't identify it and do not know what to call it exactly. If you call a team meeting, you know how to manage people, bring people together and coordinate events. It's such a natural part of the game we don't identify it and translate that into business terms, but you'll find you know more about business than you think you do." CAVS FOR LIFE SPOTLIGHT: RIJO WALKER

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