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UK hires compliance officer for football program

Rachel Newman Baker
Rachel Newman Baker

The University of Kentucky has hired an NCAA compliance officer to help monitor the school's football program, Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart announced Tuesday.

Rachel Newman Baker, who has been NCAA managing director of enforcement for development and investigations, will be UK's senior associate athletics director for compliance. In that capacity, she will assist UK's chief compliance officer, Sandy Bell, who will concentrate on compliance in the men's basketball program.

A native of Berea, Newman Baker was the NCAA director of agent, gambling and amateurism activities from 2005-11. She began her time with the NCAA as an intern in enforcement services in 2001.

Barnhart cited the increasing scope of rules compliance as a reason to hire Newman Baker.

"It's become a more enormous task than it was in the past," he said. "We just need some more help, a few more bodies, if you will, to help us with that. What Rachel brings is a 30,000-foot view of what's going on in the world of compliance."

With the NCAA, Newman Baker managed a 30-person staff that helped in investigations and processing of infractions cases, UK said in a release. Football and basketball were her specialties. She also worked on issues involving agents in baseball, men's ice hockey, and track and field.

"Over the past 12 years at the NCAA, I'm proud of the work we did to promote student-athlete well-being while upholding the integrity of college athletics," Newman Baker said in a UK release. "I'm looking forward to applying my skills and knowledge in my new role at the University of Kentucky under the leadership of Mitch Barnhart and Sandy Bell. I have the utmost respect for the standards of excellence by which they and their staff operate the UK athletics program. My family and I are excited to return to our home state and I can't wait to be back on a college campus alongside the student-athletes, coaches and administrators."

Newman Baker became the latest in a line of NCAA employees to leave its enforcement division, which has been criticized after admitting mistakes in major investigations of the sports programs at the University of Miami (Fla.) and UCLA.

The NCAA fired two investigators, Ameen Najjar and Abigail Grantstein. The vice president of enforcement, Julie Roe Lach, resigned. Thereafter, three other investigators left the NCAA to work in compliance at schools — Marcus Wilson at Maryland, Dave Didion at Auburn and Chance Miller at South Carolina.

Newman Baker will represent UK's athletics department at all Southeastern Conference and NCAA compliance meetings and workshops, UK said.

Barnhart noted that Newman Baker can help keep UK abreast of the NCAA's increased efforts to monitor rules compliance in football, men's basketball and women's basketball.

Newman Baker played women's basketball at Berea College where she earned a bachelor's degree in sociology in 1999. She received a master's degree in sports administration in 2001 at Ohio State. While at Ohio State, Newman Baker was a graduate assistant in the athletics compliance office.

"Sandy has been a great friend of mine for 11 years," Barnhart said of Bell. "There's no one I trust more. But every once in a while, you need more help."

Newman Baker begins work on July 8.

"We've had a really good record of compliance under Sandy. ... ," Barnhart said. "That ain't going to change."