College athletes must worry about many rules, on and off the field. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has many standards for student athletes, and it is partly the school’s responsibility to educate individuals and make sure they remain in compliance with NCAA rules and are eligible for competition. Colleges will often employ one or more compliance officers to protect the university and its student athletes. Depending on the applicant’s level of experience and the health of the institution, a compliance officer can make a good living.
According to a 2001 survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for compliance officers working in fields other than agriculture, health and safety, construction, and transportation was $42,000. These are professional jobs, and compliance officers are often given medical and other benefits as part of their compensation packages. An officer's earnings will vary according to several factors. For example, a job listing for a position at the University of Nebraska at Omaha notes that applicants are required to have a bachelor's degree and a year of experience. An applicant with preferred qualifications (a master's or law degree) will likely earn a higher salary, as the university notes the $35,000 they offer "depends on qualifications." On the higher end of the spectrum is an athletics compliance officer at Texas State University, earning $60,000 per year.
High Pay for High Stress
An athletics compliance officer has a difficult and often busy job. As William C. Rhoden pointed out in an April 2009 New York Times article, “Compliance officers have become an athletics department’s most important employee.” Athletics are very high-profile departments at many colleges. If a star player is ruled ineligible, for instance, it can hurt the school’s reputation and cost the school a lot of revenue. Each compliance officer must decide whether he is being paid enough to justify the constant scrutiny he faces from staff members, fans, alumni, etc.
Variable Hours and Duties
The compensation an institution offers can depend on the work expected of the compliance officer. Depending on the size of the department, you may need to work long hours to ensure that particularly important teams and players are in compliance. As noted on Cleveland.com, the online outlet for the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper and a news outlet for northwest Ohio, the NCAA Division I rulebook is 444 pages long, and it’s very easy for a player or coach to violate the rules, even unintentionally.
Public vs. Private Institutions
A compliance officer’s pay will vary a great deal depending upon many factors, including the location of the school and whether the school is public or private. A compliance officer in New York City, for example, will earn a higher salary as a result of the higher cost of living. Further, private institutions may be able to offer higher salaries due to higher tuition costs. On the other hand, many private colleges have funding problems that can depress staff salaries.
Qualifications and Cost
A compliance officer must decide whether a salary is high enough to justify the required level of schooling and experience. For example, the University of Utah requests that applicants for a position in compliance possess a “bachelor’s degree in a related field, ” but they prefer to hire someone with a master’s.