New director of compliance set to take on challenges

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Kevin Zihlman, a recent graduate from the University of Iowa, was hired earlier this month as CSUN’s newest director of compliance; a position that requires him to work with student athletes and determine whether they are meeting NCAA standards.

Zihlman replaces Darryl Pope who vacated the position on Dec. 17, 2004.

Zihlman is excited to take on the position and said his main goal will be to assist the Athletic Department while maintaining the academic integrity of CSUN.

Although college coaches are thoroughly trained on NCAA rules, part of Zihlman’s job will be to require that CSUN coaches get pre-approval for various recruitment trips. The coaches are also obliged to record all recruiting activities and submit specific paperwork directly to Zihlman.

Zihlman must also stress the NCAA’s new Academic Progress Rate, which will attempt to monitor the student-athletes academic progression. If the APR falls below the minimum 925 rating a penalty will be handed down.

Possible penalties include ineligibility for postseason play and loss of scholarships.

“These penalties would greatly affect a program,” said Zihlman. “Even if a school has a record of 30-1, they may still be kept from postseason play if the APR is not met.”

Though he is not able to propose any immediate changes to NCAA regulations, Zihlman maintains his own philosophies on how operations should run in the Athletics Department.

“Academics should come first. Athletics in general is a privilege for someone to partake in, not a right. At the college level, athletics should remain at an amateur status,” Zihlman said.

Many student athletes disagree with Zihlman’s point of view, claiming that academics are a waste of time and have little or nothing to do with their career goals. However, NCAA regulations, which reflect Zihlman’s views, must be met in order for athletes to be eligible for collegiate competition.

This is Zihlman’s first position at CSUN. He has been involved in the field of compliance since 1999. Before he was hired at CSUN, he served as a graduate assistant at the University of Iowa’s Athletic Student Services/Compliance Office. His responsibilities included assisting with NCAA reports and preparing certified eligibility lists for the Big Ten Conference.

Prior to working at Iowa, Zihlman worked for the NCAA Clearinghouse as a certification specialist where he was required to complete academic evaluations for students with hopes of attending NCAA Division I and II universities.

Zihlman was also responsible for training new employees on the policies and procedures of the NCAA.

Zihlman’s hiring follows Janet Lucas’ recent promotion to interim director of athletics.

“Kevin and I both come from strong compliance backgrounds,” Lucas said.

“I am excited to work with Janet and I think she will prove to be a strong mentor,” Zihlman said.

Sanaz Bakhtiari can be reached at sanaz.bakhtiari.396@csun.edu