The ongoing NCAA enforcement investigation of the Ohio State University football program began as a student-athlete reinstatement request for five student-athletes. The student-athlete reinstatement process is a frequently-used (by NCAA member institutions), but seldom-explained (to the public) method to restore a student-athlete’s eligibility. The Michael L. Buckner Law Firm, through a three-part series, will review the student-athlete reinstatement process. Part I will provide an introduction to the student-athlete reinstatement process. Part II will summarize the initial steps in the reinstatement process, including the information and factors the staff considers when reviewing reinstatement requests. Part III will highlight reinstatement decisions and the appeals process. The information and quotes used in this series was obtained from the NCAA Web site, http://www.ncaa.org.
The student-athlete reinstatement process begins with an NCAA rules-violation being committed by a student-athlete and discovered by an institution. The institution is required to declare “the student-athlete ineligible, investigate the violation, and forward its report with a request for the student-athlete’s eligibility to be reinstated” to the student-athlete reinstatement staff. The staff, which has been provided specific authority by the NCAA Committee on Student-Athlete Reinstatement “makes the initial decision regarding reinstatement of a student-athlete’s eligibility”.
In reviewing and considering requests, the staff “considers a number of factors” including: a) the nature and seriousness of the violation; b) any impermissible benefits received by the student-athlete; c) the student-athlete’s level of responsibility; d) any mitigating factors presented by the school; e) applicable NCAA guidelines; and f) any relevant case precedent. The staff bases its decisions “on an evaluation of the information provided to the staff by the involved school, given the NCAA reinstatement staff’s role is not investigatory in nature”. Most importantly, the staff may ask additional questions concerning the reinstatement request, but the NCAA places the responsibility on the institution “to provide all necessary information for the staff to consider”.