NCAA regulations pitch Diamond Darlings to marketing dept.

To comply with an NCAA rule, the Diamond Darlings, a group that supports the baseball team, has moved from an arm of the athletic department to a part of the marketing department in its fifth year of operation.Associate Athletic Director for NCAA Compliance Andrea Nordmann said the rule that facilitated the move from athletics to marketing pertained to an October 2004 regulation regarding “student hosts” for perspective student athletes, although Diamond Darlings President Carey Ellison, a junior movement science major, said the group has never been involved in any recruiting activities.

The 2004 NCAA regulation stated, “Student hosts must be either a current student-athlete or student designated in a manner consistent with the institution’s policy for providing campus visits or tours to prospective students in general.”

Neither Nordmann nor Assistant Director of Compliance John Cunningham could rationalize why TCU did not act on the amendment until nearly two and a half years later.

The change may have come in response to problems that have surfaced in other conferences, such as the SEC, Nordmann said.

“At other schools, they would have a group of young ladies that would help out when recruits would come on campus,” Nordmann said. “Now, that’s not what was happening here, but in order to meet the legislation, that’s why the Diamond Darlings had to get moved.”

Ellison said the group is no longer allowed to decorate the locker room before the games.

Vice President June Leitz, a junior radio-TV-film major, said the Diamond Darlings will continue to hand out programs, drive golf carts to and from the parking lot and carry new bats to the players.

Cunningham said the Diamond Darlings could continue their activities as student ambassadors or marketing interns.

“They could move into the marketing aspect of it and be like a volunteer marketing person because that’s open to all students at TCU,” Cunningham said. “They kind of wanted to keep their group together and decided to do that as marketing interns.”

It was not clear though, whether the Diamond Darlings would be permitted to return this season, Ellison said.

“We just found out at the very end of the semester that we were going to be able to have them for sure,” Ellison said.

Although considered marketing interns, Ellison said the Diamond Darlings do not actually log hours in the marketing department.

“We’re at the games two hours before the game, and we’re there the entire game,” Ellison said. “We also help the coaches out in the coaches’ offices and do mail-outs for them.”

The help the group provides the coaches is not through the marketing department, Ellison said.

Leitz said the group’s size has increased from 24 members last spring to 30 this season. More business majors have joined as a result of the new status, Ellison said.

“Before we had a lot of girls who were just interested in baseball, and this year we have a lot more business majors who are interested in pursuing marketing or public relations,” Ellison said.

The Purple Hearts, a group that supported the football team, decided to disband because of the rule, Ellison said.