With Minot State University still awaiting final approval to become a full member of the NCAA (a decision is expected in mid-July), the athletic department's April hiring of compliance director Steven Swenson is a necessary step for the university to complete its transition from the NAIA.
"(Compliance is) about 75 percent of what (the NCAA is) looking at in our transition," MSU athletic director Rick Hedberg said. "They're not that concerned about facilities and even how your teams compete, but they do want you to have a compliance system in place that's gonna allow you to stay within their guidelines and regulations."
Each school is required by the NCAA to have one full-time employee strictly in charge of compliance issues. Swenson, 28, replaces Melanie DeBoer-Brunsdon, who accepted a job as director of compliance at Lewis University (Ill.).
The position at MSU marks Swenson's first full-time job in athletic administration. He graduated from law school this year from Marquette University while simultaneously interning for the compliance department at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, an NCAA Division II school.
"I'm essentially in charge of making sure that everything we're doing fits within the rules," Swenson said. "A lot of the NCAA rules are not black and white. There's a lot of interpretations that go into 'em, there's a lot of combining different rules together to find out if your one idea is workable."
Although Swenson said he's never worked with NAIA bylaws, the restrictions the Beavers will face as an NCAA member will be "a whole (different) scenario."
As Hedberg put it: "The biggest difference is the NAIA rulebook is about 50 pages, and the NCAA rulebook is about 350, so there's a lot more oversight."
Swenson will also be in charge of ensuring the athletic department's actions align with Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference rules. The NSIC imposes restrictions in addition to what the NCAA already mandates. For example, the NCAA allows Division II schools 36 football scholarships but NSIC schools can only use 28.
Swenson's other responsibilities include holding rules education sessions for MSU's staff, helping the athletic department host violation-free events and working with incoming freshmen and transfer students to gain initial eligibility.