The Michael L. Buckner Law Firm continues its rules-education series with a review of NCAA legislative relief cases. Under NCAA procedure, “in cases when no other waiver process already has authority, institutions, conferences and committees may seek relief from applying a rule when extraordinary or extenuating circumstances warrant”. Specifically, “a member school, conference or committee submits a waiver application to the NCAA national office. Staff members on the legislative relief waiver team work collaboratively with the school, conference or committee to develop a complete picture of the situation and then render an initial decision.” NCAA procedures permit the entity seeking relief to accept the decision or appeal it (Division I applicants appeal through the Division I Legislative Council Subcommittee for Legislative Relief, Division II applicants appeal through the Division II Committee for Legislative Relief, and Division III applicants appeal through the Division III Management Council Subcommittee for Legislative Relief). The appellate “bodies review the written appeal and provide final decisions, which include granting or denying the request for flexibility, or granting a conditional waiver”.
Today’s post concerns NCAA Bylaw 220.127.116.11 (Visit to Off-Campus Contest), which provides:
An institution may not provide a prospective student-athlete with transportation to attend an off-campus contest outside a 30-mile radius of the member institution’s main campus. However, if an institution is required to play all of its home games in a given sport at a site located in a community other than its own because of conditions beyond its own control (e.g., fire, windstorm, earthquake or other disaster), the Legislative Council Subcommittee for Legislative Relief may grant permission to the institution to consider games played at the substitute site as on-campus competition. [D] (Revised: 4/24/03, 8/5/04, 1/9/06 effective 8/1/06, 11/1/07 effective 8/1/08)
An NCAA member institution requested relief from this bylaw in Case No. 13602, which was decided on September 30, 2010. The case involved the sport of women’s soccer. The case is summarized below:
Facts: September 7, 2010: A prospective student-athlete (PSA) was invited to officially visit applicant institution October 1-3. Women’s soccer coaching staff at applicant institution was informed that a second PSA was going to be visiting campus unofficially on those dates. September 20, 2010: A third PSA was invited to officially visit applicant institution October 1-3. The three PSAs were scheduled to attend two home women’s soccer contests, but due to inclement weather conditions in the area, applicant institution was unable to host its home soccer contests on campus. Applicant institution moved the soccer competition to another location outside the 30-mile radius from campus. Applicant institution would like to provide the PSAs permissible travel expenses for their recruiting visit; however, PSAs would be prohibited from attending because they would be attending an off-campus contest outside of the 30-mile radius of the applicant institution’s campus.
Request of Institution: Waive the normal application of the official visit competition legislation and permit applicant institution to provide all three PSAs with permissible travel expenses while attending a competition outside the 30-mile radius of applicant institution’s campus. Applicant institution asserts: (1) Four straight days of rain caused applicant institution’s home facility to be unplayable; and (2) The change in venue was a result of the inclement weather; and (3) The closest available and playable site was located 92 miles away from applicant institution.
Rationale: STAFF GRANTED: Based on PSA well-being and case precedent. Specifically, staff noted: (1) PSA’s trips were scheduled (September 7 and 20) in advance and SA’s are unable to reschedule their visits; (2) The unique nature of the unplayable fields and the rescheduling of the contest at a site approximately 85 miles from applicant institution’s campus; and (3) The minimal recruiting advantage gained by granting the request.
Action Taken: Staff Granted.