John Infante, a Colorado State University compliance officer and author of the popular Bylaw Blog, plans to stop publishing on the NCAA’s Web site, The Chronicle has learned. His last post will be April 7.
The blog may come back in a different form, but for now Infante is taking a break from his weekly posts. He made the decision after seeing a steady increase in calls from parents of recruits who had found his name at ncaa.org. “The two things I try to keep separate—writing and my day job—were increasingly getting intermingled,” he says, “so something needed to change.”
Compliance experts were sorry to hear that the site is going away. “It’s been incredibly valuable to have that kind of expert opinion in a public forum,” said Karen Peters, interim athletic director at the University of Portland and a former compliance and eligibility official at Stanford University. “The way that John has been able to explain complicated issues is something that I think has helped compliance professionals, and it’s certainly helped make it more clear what compliance people actually do.”
Infante started the site as an anonymous blogger in 2009 while working in the compliance department at Loyola Marymount University. His early work in breaking down NCAA violations and infractions reports shined light on an important area in a way that no one had ever done publicly.
After his identity was revealed, in the summer of 2010, he took down the site. But the NCAA persuaded him to bring it back that fall. Through it all, the blog has had a consistent following. When he last analyzed the site’s traffic, Infante says, most posts were getting at least a couple of thousand hits, with certain ones receiving 5,000 to 7,000 clicks.
In some ways, Infante’s timing couldn’t be worse, as the NCAA is considering big changes to its rule book and enforcement process. Where will people go for expert infractions and eligibility analysis?
He’ll still keep tweeting, where his posts tend to be livelier and more current than what he does on the Bylaw Blog. (“In the world of the Internet, once-a-week posts might as well be annually,” he jokes.)
And he will likely be back for a third act—he’s just not sure what that will look like yet.
“I think I’ll probably have something out there, but I don’t know when or in what capacity it will return,” he says. “I still enjoy doing it, and I think some of the issues I was facing on the NCAA’s Web site will be mitigated if it’s anywhere else.”
Whether he’s the one to do it or not, Infante would like to see a site where someone curates news, analysis, and commentary on NCAA compliance issues. His model would be John Gruber, author of Daring Fireball, a lively blog about Apple and other tech news.
“He has strong opinions and he’s not afraid to say them, and he does his best to back them up with fact,” says Infante, who shares his opinion more in tweets than in his essay-like posts on the Bylaw Blog.
Sharing much more opinion—or criticizing peer institutions—would be hard as long as he’s still working in intercollegiate athletics. Infante gives no indication he wants to blog full-time, but given his role as a go-to source for reporters, he would clearly be good at it.
“I’m not angling for another job,” he says. But with all that’s happening in this field, he definitely sees an opening. “I really do think we need someone who can be the source for news on compliance issues—and who also has a strong voice.”