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College Sports, Division I, Education

Duke and the Alleged NCAA Recruiting Violation: An Interpretation of the Rule

CBSSports.com’s Jeff Borzello reported on July 30, 2011, that “Duke and the NCAA are investigating whether an NCAA recruiting rule was violated when coach Mike Krzyzewski reportedly offered a scholarship to a recruit during a summer tournament”. According to the article, Krzyzewski’s offer of an athletics grant-in-aid to five-star prospect Alex Poythress occurred “on Tuesday night, after Poythress’ AAU team was eliminated from the AAU Super Showcase”, which was held in Orlando, Florida. Borzello reported Poythress confirmed the offer, and Krzyzewski’s conversation with him, to CBSSports.com. NCAA legislation (Bylaw 13.1.6.2.2-(b)) prohibits coaches from communicating with prospective student-athletes, the prospects’ relative and others associated with the prospect before the prospects completed their participation in summer certified events. [Note: The bylaw in its entirety is included below.] Although Poythress’ squad (Georgia Stars) were indeed eliminated from the Super Showcase event, the team remained in Orlando for the AAU Nationals. A college coach could not communicate with Poythess until he was released by the team after the conclusion of the final competition during the trip according to an April 22, 2011, NCAA academics and membership affairs staff interpretation:

“The academic and membership affairs staff confirmed that after a prospect reports on call to travel with his team at the beginning of an extended road trip that occurs during the July evaluation period, it is not permissible for an institution’s coaching staff member to have any type of communication with the prospect, the prospect’s parents or legal guardians, the prospect’s coach or any individual associated with the prospect as a result of the prospect’s participation in basketball [except for telephone contact with a prospect’s high-school coach (or administrator) who is not in attendance at the prospect’s events] until the prospect is released by the appropriate authorities after the completion of the team’s final competition of the road trip.”

The Bylaw at Issue

13.1.6.2.2 Additional Restrictions — Men’s and Women’s Basketball.

In men’s and women’s basketball, the following additional restrictions shall apply: (Adopted: 4/3/02, Revised: 4/24/03)

(a) In men’s basketball, contact shall not be made with a prospective student-athlete at any basketball event during the academic year that is not part of a prospective student-athlete’s normal high school, preparatory school or two-year college season, or any event that is not approved, sanctioned, sponsored or conducted by the applicable state high school or two-year college association, National Federation of State High School Associations or the National Junior College Athletic Association.  (Revised: 4/24/03)

(b) In men’s basketball, all communication with a prospective student-athlete (including a prospective student-athlete who has signed a National Letter of Intent), the prospective student-athlete’s relatives or legal guardians, the prospective student-athlete’s coach or any individual associated with the prospective student-athlete as a result of the prospective student-athlete’s participation in basketball, directly or indirectly, is prohibited during the time period in which the prospective student-athlete is participating in a summer certified event.  However, printed materials (e.g., letters, recruiting brochures, questionnaires) may be sent via regular mail (see Bylaw 13.4.1) to a prospective student-athlete’s home while the prospective student-athlete is participating in a summer certified event.  An institutional coaching staff member may communicate at an event site with a prospective student-athlete who has signed a National Letter of Intent only if the prospective student-athlete is not participating in the event and is not associated with any team participating in the event (e.g., travels to the event at his own expense, not under the authority of a coach at any time, does not participate in team functions).   (Revised: 6/20/02, 4/24/03, 4/28/05, 1/9/06 effective 8/1/06, 3/23/06, 4/23/08, 4/24/08 effective 8/1/08)

(c) In women’s basketball, during the July evaluation periods, all communication with a prospective student-athlete, the prospective student-athlete’s relatives or legal guardians, the prospective student-athlete’s coach or any individual associated with the prospective student-athlete as a result of the prospective student-athlete’s participation in basketball, directly or indirectly, is prohibited. (Adopted: 4/28/05 effective 8/1/05, Revised: 3/23/06)

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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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