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College Sports, Division I, Education

NCAA Staff Interpretation Reminder: On-Campus Scouting of Opponents in Basketball, Football and Women’s Volleyball

This post serves as a reminder of an NCAA academic and membership affairs staff interpretation that was issued on September 17, 2010. Specifically, the staff “confirmed that in basketball, football and women’s volleyball, the prohibition against off-campus, in-person scouting of opponents is not applicable to on-campus competition involving a future opponent.” The interpretation referenced NCAA Bylaw 11.6.1 (basketball, football and women’s volleyball prohibition), which states:

NCAA Bylaw 11.6.1 (Basketball, Football and Women’s Volleyball Prohibition)

In basketball, football and women’s volleyball, off-campus, in-person scouting of opponents is prohibited, except as provided in Bylaw 11.6.1.1. (Adopted: 1/11/94 effective 8/1/94, Revised: 1/14/97 effective 8/1/97)

NCAA Bylaw 11.6.1.1, in turn, states:

NCAA Bylaw 11.6.1.1 (Regular-Season Tournaments, Double-Header Events or Postseason Tournaments)

An institution may pay the expenses of a member of its coaching staff to attend a regular-season or postseason tournament or, in basketball, a double-header event in which the institution’s intercollegiate team is a participant. Under such circumstances, the individual may scout future opponents also participating in the same tournament at the same site or, in basketball, the same double-header event at the same site, without being subject to the scouting prohibition. (Revised: 1/11/94 effective 8/1/94, 10/28/97 effective 8/1/98)

An example of a violation involving NCAA Bylaw 11.6.1 is included below:

SA Reinstatement Case Number 34707
SA Reinstatement Decision Date: September 10, 2009
Sport: Division I Women’s Volleyball

Facts: Women’s volleyball coaching staff permitted impermissible team entertainment and triggered scouting violation when student-athletes (SAs) were permitted to attend local nationally televised women’s volleyball tournament that involved future opponents. Specifically, women’s volleyball was scheduled to compete August 28-29, 2009, at a neutral site tournament; however, institution’s opponent for August 29 had to withdraw from the tournament due to flu. AVCA Volleyball Showcase was in same city so coaching staff took volleyball team to watch AVCA tournament which included two future opponents. Institution paid $22 admission for each SA. After returning to campus and reviewing issue with compliance staff and confirming scouting violation, institution began researching another unrelated violation and discovered December 16, 1998, staff interpretation that prohibited SAs to be provided expenses to scout future opponents as part of permissible team entertainment associated with away competition.

Institution Action: Institution noted head coach is a first-year NCAA coach, having been an NAIA coach previously and was unaware team entertainment or scouting of opponents in this manner was impermissible. Head coach apologized to coaching staff of both future opponents. Institution is requesting relief from repayment since the event was nationally televised and SAs could have observed event from local hotel room, the late cancellation of SAs’ competition and SAs’ lack of culpability.

Enforcement Action: This case is being forwarded to the enforcement staff for further review.

Eligibility Action: Eligibility reinstated.

Rationale: Based on totality of circumstances, staff provided relief in this case. In providing relief from repayment, staff considered in part coaching staff involvement, SAs could have observed event from hotel or restaurant, team entertainment itself was permissible but for event involving future opponents, SAs could have been provided admission as team entertainment to the tournament; and, given timing and circumstances surrounding cancelled competition resulting in need to provide team entertainment.

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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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