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College Sports, Education

HBO’s Real Sports Segment on Former Auburn Athletes’ NCAA Rules-Violation Claims: What is an Extra-Benefit?

HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel aired a segment that included allegations by four former Auburn football student-athletes that “they received thousands of dollars of cash from boosters from a number of schools”. In particular, former student-athletes Chaz Ramsey, Troy Reddick, Stanley McClover and Raven Gray “alleged they received money as part of a pay-for-play scheme during their time at Auburn. None played there more recently than 2007.” Ramsey informed the HBO program that “Auburn boosters would approach him after games, and that they would give as much as $300 to $400 a game. He said that before he arrived at Auburn, a booster gave him spending money during his junior college career.” The former student-athletes’ allegations, if true, would amount to a violation of several NCAA rules, including Bylaw 16.02.3, which defines an “extra benefit” as:

“An extra benefit is any special arrangement by an institutional employee or a representative of the institution’s athletics interests to provide a student-athlete or the student-athlete’s relative or friend a benefit not expressly authorized by NCAA legislation. Receipt of a benefit by student-athletes or their relatives or friends is not a violation of NCAA legislation if it is demonstrated that the same benefit is generally available to the institution’s students or their relatives or friends or to a particular segment of the student body (e.g., international students, minority students) determined on a basis unrelated to athletics ability.”

Two high-profile cases during the last decade involved the illicit provision of extra-benefits by boosters:

University of Southern California
Decision Date: June 10, 2010
Violation Summary: Violations of NCAA bylaws governing amateurism; failure to report knowledge of violations; unethical conduct; impermissible benefits; violations of coaching staff limitations; impermissible recruiting contacts by a booster; impermissible inducements and extra benefits; and lack of institutional control.
Penalty Summary: Additional penalties imposed by the committee were the following: public reprimand and censure; four year of probation; two year postseason ban in football; vacation of all records in which an ineligible football student-athletes competed; vacation of all records in which an ineligible men’s basketball student-athlete competed; vacation of all records in which an ineligible women’s tennis student-athlete competed; limited initial grants-in-aid in football to 15 and to 75 total for 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic years; limited initial grants-in-aid in men’s basketball to 12 for the 2009-10 and 2010-11 academic years; financial penalty in the amount of $206,020 to be returned to the Pac-10 conference; one-year show-cause order placed on an assistant football coach; annual compliance reporting required.

University of Michigan
Decision Date:May 8, 2003
Violation Summary: The violations involved the men’s basketball program and centered on the provision of more than $600,000 in cash and other benefits to at least four former men’s basketball student-athletes by a representative of the university’s athletics interest. The athletics representative’s funds were derived from an illegal gambling enterprise he operated for many years at Detroit automobile assembly plants, where he was employed.
Penalty Summary: Public reprimand and censure; four years of probation commencing from November 7, 2002, the date of the university’s response to the NCAA’s official inquiry and the application of self-imposed penalties; one additional year of postseason ban in men’s basketball; the total of athletically related financial aid awards in men’s basketball shall be reduced by one during each of the 2004-05, 2005-06, 2006-07 and 2007-08 academic years; disassociation of the four former men’s basketball student-athletes for a period of at least 10 years for their involvement in the violations of NCAA rules and some of the student-athletes’ refusal to cooperate with the university and NCAA investigators; annual compliance reporting. [The DI Infractions Appeals Committee vacated the additional year of postseason ban.]

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About Michael L. Buckner, Esquire

An attorney who provides clients with internal investigation, civil litigation, estate planning and compliance services.

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