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Software helps NCAA teams comply with rules

June 10, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
When the University of Southern California football and basketball programs were put on probation, the NCAA said the university failed to monitor its athletes and showed lack of institutional contol. USC has since cleaned up its program thanks in great part to a new high-tech software system.

"We said as the Internet becomes more and more important here, and whether it's calls or text messages, or the really wide range of things that coaches have to deal with, we wanted to find a way to do it better," said Kai Sato, chief financial officer of FieldLevel Software.

So two former USC students created FieldLevel, a software program where more than 3,000 NCAA bylaws of compliance are built right into the system.

"They have to report which cars they drive," said Soto. "They need to say 'I live here and I'm paying "X" rent.' All of that information used to be collected via paper and it was sitting in a cabinet over here, on a desk there, and it was difficult to verify that information and review it. Now with FieldLevel, it's all in one location."

More than two-thirds of all NCAA violations are tied to phone calls. The FieldLevel software program attacks that issue.

"This is an application, it's actually wired into the phone. Once you install the application, it ties into all of the events that happen within the phone," said Brandon Sullivan, FieldLevel co-founder.

Every coach downloads the FieldLevel application to his or her phone and an instant database of recruits and calls is created. This high-tech data system would also block a coach from calling a recruit who's still too young to be recruited.

Today FieldLevel has more than 100 clients nationwide, and when it comes to compliance, a typical athletic audit takes about four to eight weeks to complete. Now it's done in minutes with a click of a button.

"Two-thirds of all violations, that's a big number," said USC Associate Athletic Director Mark Jackson. "We think we're on top of it and in a much better way than we were before."

Compliance is just a small portion of this high-tech data system. This is truly a coach's recruiting tool.

"When you're looking at sports with so much recruiting volume, just a lot of kids, we've got 7.5 million high school athletes and we're ultimately trying to whittle it down to 440,000 in the NCAA," said Soto. "So you're trying to find the best ones, you're constantly calling or emailing, so that activity, if you could automate that, we've really seen a lot if growth in that area."


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