Keeping the Tide in line

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 24, 2002

There is little doubt what is foremost on the minds of most University of Alabama athletic supporters this week.

This of course is the Crimson Tide's game against hated rival Tennessee in Knoxville on Saturday, and what all Tide fans are hoping will be an end to Alabama's seven-game losing streak to the Volunteers.

Chris King probably shares those feelings as well, but his main priority involves even higher goals for the University's athletic program.

King, the new Associate Athletic Director for Compliance at the Capstone, is responsible for making sure the Tide officials, coaches and players are on the same page in making sure the Tide athletic program is in total compliance with NCAA rules.

This goal, of course, is even more imperative with Alabama serving a five-year probationary period, including a two-year postseason ban this season and next season.

King, who came to the Alabama program from Central Florida,

was the guest speaker Tuesday at the meeting of the Covington County Chapter of the University of Alabama National Alumni Association, held at the Andalusia Country Club. During his remarks, King, a graduate of Robert Morris College and Campbell University, spoke about many of his duties as the Tide's compliance director and how the overall Bama program has persevered despite the negatives related to the football probationary status.

The evening also featured remarks by University of Alabama National Alumni Association President Bobby Wooldridge.

King, who has also served as Director of Compliance at Liberty University, said education plays a pivotal role in his duties as compliance director.

"My job is basically to protect coaches and university student-athletes and basically the whole family of the University of Alabama, but it is not just my job, but your responsibility," said King. "The more your staff understands their jobs and the rules and regulations, and understands what they can and cannot do, the easier it is (to do his job) and we won't have any future problems."

He said he tries to stay heavily involved in all of the Tide sports, interacting heavily with the coaches and Tide student-athletes, and said he makes one to two road trips with every Tide squad, whether it be football or swimming.

"I am on the road as much as the coaches are," said King.

King said a major priority for him upon coming to Tuscaloosa was to change the negative perception of the Tide athletic program.


the compliance system works and will continue to work," said King. "I think one of the big keys (for the University of Alabama) was hiring Coach Fran (Alabama Head Football Coach Dennis Franchione). If I could not get along with the football coach, I was not going to come here, and you have to learn how to put your feet in (the coaches') shoes and what they're going through on a day to day basis. If you can do that, you're going to be real effective in your job. I have tried to create a system or a philosophy of a compliance management style and I have probably spoken about 50

times this year to the coaches and student-athletes. Once a month I have an education session with all the coaches."

King said a compliance web site is also being constructed, which he said will probably be the most comprehensive compliance site in the entire country.

He said he has already had many of the Tide athletes come to him and ask him questions or to notify him of problems with boosters, and he said that type of communication between him and the athletes is imperative to making sure the compliance system is working effectively.

"I don't want us to be one of the most well-known universities, but I want us to be known as one of the most well-respected universities in the SEC," said King. "Kentucky is on probation and Alabama is on probation, and there are six other universities that will be on probation within the next five years, and that's a fact. They are calling (the Southeastern Conference) the old Southwest Conference (which was ultimately shut down, in part to violations occurring among member schools), and that's embarrassing."

King said he is pleased with the new SEC Commissioner Mike Slive, who is also very concerned about changing the negative image currently associated with the conference.

Although he does have the title of compliance director, King said ensuring total compliance with the NCAA and

the conference as well is a team effort.

"Basically our obligation is to adhere to all of the NCAA and SEC rules, but it's a shared responsibility," said King. "I have said many times I am not a one-man show and everybody is a part of the compliance team, including the coaches and support staff, and the whole campus and faculty and staff, fans and friends and also boosters and alumni. We have to come together basically and get through this five-year probation. The coaches have bought into this and they are fairly excited and they have remained positive and proactive."

He said the fact that the Tide players have remained totally positive and the fact that none of the current Crimson Tiders did not leave once the latest sanctions were announced can be traced to the positive energy brought to the Capstone by Franchione.

"I have never met a more committed individual in my life (than Franchione)," said King. "Most coaches have an agenda, but Dennis Franchione's agenda is to win a national championship every year at the University of Alabama, but at the same time to make sure his kids are active in the community and he brings in good kids and during a probation he has no choice but to bring in good kids and his players would run through a brick wall for him. This is why the players did not leave."