What Does an NCAA Investigator Do?

Learn About the Salary, Required Skills, & More

This illustration depicts a day in the life of an NCAA investigator including "Analyze data and reports," "Write reports," "Conduct interviews in the service of those investigations," and "Work closely with athletes."

Bailey Mariner © The Balance

NCAA investigators are members of the National Collegiate Athletic Association's enforcement staff who determine whether universities, student-athletes, coaches, or agents participated in prohibited behavior. They also work to ensure that universities initiate and maintain high academic standards.

NCAA investigators look into nearly every aspect of college sports, including allegations of gambling, taking money and gifts from agents, academic misconduct, and getting paid to play. They may initiate investigations based on allegations of wrongdoing, or they may act at the request of a coach or other university employee who reports a potential violation.

According to the NCAA, enforcement staff generally handle around 25 major investigations and look into up to 4,000 lesser violations each year.

NCAA Investigator Duties & Responsibilities

An NCAA investigator is often required to perform the following tasks:

  • Analyze data and reports.
  • Conduct administrative investigations.
  • Conduct interviews in the service of those investigations.
  • Write reports.
  • Work closely with athletes, coaches, college administrators, compliance staff, and attorneys.
  • Maintain confidentiality.

Universities, coaches, and students who are found to have committed infractions face a range of disciplinary actions, up to and including the loss of player eligibility or an entire athletic program. Investigators must be thorough and mindful of the potential consequences of their inquiries. For this reason, NCAA investigations can take weeks, months, or possibly years before they are seen all the way to a conclusion.

NCAA investigators do not have police powers, as their investigations are civil and administrative matters and are therefore conducted independently of any criminal investigation. If criminal misconduct is uncovered, an appropriate law enforcement agency will conduct a separate investigation.

NCAA Investigator Salary

Neither the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics nor the NCAA provides salary data on this job.

Education, Training, & Certification

No former training or licensing is mandatory for NCAA investigators, however, many investigators are former college athletes and coaches.

  • Helpful experience and knowledge: Though previous investigative work has not been a necessary application criterion in the past, it is helpful. A background in or strong working knowledge of college athletics is desirable.
  • Education: The enforcement staff also consists of many people who have received advanced education, especially law degrees. However, a college degree is not a requirement.

NCAA Investigator Skills & Competencies

Qualities and abilities that are important in this job include:

  • Inquisitive mind: NCAA investigators should have an interest in seeking answers to questions.
  • People skills: They need to be able to get people on their side to get the information they want to obtain.
  • Ability to analyze: They must be able to draw conclusions from information gleaned from multiple sources.
  • Written communications skills: Investigators must produce well-written and comprehensive reports that clearly articulate their findings.
  • Love for sports: An interest in college sports and a desire to improve and maintain the integrity of college athletics are important.

Job Outlook

Neither the BLS nor the NCAA makes predictions about the growth in the number of people with this position.

Work Environment

NCAA investigators are often in the field interviewing people but spend part of their time in the office.

Work Schedule

NCAA investigators work according to the needs of the cases they handle.

How to Get the Job


Because many people are interested in working for the NCAA, the organization does not usually accept unsolicited applications.


A good starting point on the path to this job is employment in a local college or university's internal compliance department, where you can gain experience in enforcing NCAA rules.


Building up your professional network and making contacts in the world of college sports is also crucial.


Many HR recruiters and hiring managers tend to ask the same types of questions during interviews. Be prepared to answer them.

Comparing Similar Jobs

People interested in becoming NCAA investigators might also consider the following jobs. The figures provided are median annual salaries:

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018