The NCAA academics and membership affairs staff provided guidance on the permissible practice expenses an institution can provide student-athletes. Specifically, on April 28, 2011, the staff clarified NCAA Bylaw 126.96.36.199, which states “expenses may be paid for practice sessions only if they are associated with an away-from-home contest or conducted at a site located within the member institution’s state or, if outside that state, no more than 100 miles from the institution’s campus”, and Bylaw 188.8.131.52.1, which states “any practice on an extended road trip shall take place either at the competition site or on a direct route between two consecutive competition sites” and “it is not permissible for an institution to schedule practice sessions at other locations in order to provide entertainment opportunities for team members”. The staff provided the following examples to illustrate the application of the legislation:
•“Traditional winter or spring trips to warm-weather locations (that involve significant travel outside the institution’s state) must include actual competition, as listed on the institution’s official schedule, in order for the institution to provide student-athletes any expenses (e.g., transportation, lodging and meals) for the trip”.
•“In the sports of men’s and women’s skiing and women’s rowing, a member institution may transport a team to a practice site beyond the mileage limitations of Bylaw 184.108.40.206 if necessitated by weather conditions”.
•“In women’s rowing, if such practice activities are conducted during an institution’s academic term, the practice activities shall occur only at a site located within the member institution’s state or, if outside the state, no more than 200 miles from the institution’s campus. All practice activities must be within the institution’s declared playing and practice season in women’s rowing.”
•“In swimming and diving, a member institution may provide expenses to practice at the closest available site that includes a diving platform beyond the mileage limitations of Bylaw 220.127.116.11 if the institution does not have access to a diving platform therein. Student-athletes must not miss class time for these practice activities.”
The Michael L. Buckner Law Firm recommends institutions: a) address this topic with pertinent athletics staff during rules-education sessions; and b) conduct spot-checks to ensure compliance with the legislation.