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.
After the student-athlete reinstatement staff completes its review, the staff issues a decision, which can take the form of three alternatives. One, the staff may reinstate a student-athlete’s eligibility without any conditions. Two, a student-athlete may have his or her eligibility reinstated with conditions on the student-athlete (e.g., sitting out a specific number of contests, donating the amount of any impermissible benefits received to a charity). Three, the student-athlete could lose all remaining eligibility (which the NCAA notes “is extremely rare”).
An institution may appeal a decision of the student-athlete reinstatement staff to the NCAA Committee on Student-Athlete Reinstatement. The committee is comprised of representatives from NCAA institutions and athletics conferences. The committee possesses final authority for all reinstatement decision appeals. The committee can reduce or remove the reinstatement conditions, but it cannot increase the conditions imposed by the reinstatement staff.
The length of an average reinstatement case “depends on the complexity of the case”. However, the NCAA claims “most requests for reinstatement are resolved in about a week after the school has provided a complete request and the reinstatement staff has all the necessary information”. Further, additional time may be needed to address serious or complicated rules-violations that require a reinstatement request.