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College Sports, Division I, Education

New NCAA Division I Interpretation: Certification of Institutional Aid Unrelated to Athletics Ability

On September 12, 2011, the academic and membership affairs staff issued an interpretation concerning the certification of institutional aid unrelated to athletics ability. The staff confirmed that “an institution is not permitted to certify that a student-athlete’s institutional financial aid is unrelated in any degree to athletics ability if the student-athlete’s athletics participation or achievements are criteria specifically requested as part of the application process for such aid.” The staff further stated “an institution may certify that the student-athlete’s aid is unrelated in any degree to athletics ability (even if the student-athlete lists athletics participation or achievements as part of his or her extracurricular activities), provided such factors were not specifically requested as part of the application process and were not taken into consideration in awarding the institutional aid to the student-athlete.” The interpretation references NCAA Division I Bylaws 15.5.1 (counters), 15.5.1.1 (no athletics aid — certification required), 15.5.1.2 (football or basketball, varsity competition) and an official interpretation (8/27/98, Item No. 1), which has been archived].

In light of this interpretation, the Michael L. Buckner Law Firm recommends institutions’ athletics compliance and financial-aid offices: a) review policies and procedures regarding institutional aid provided to student-athletes; b) include the interpretation in the next scheduled rules-education session for the athletics staff; and c) monitor and keep accurate records of the sources of institutional aid provided to student-athletes in accordance with this interpretation.

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About Justin P. Sievert, Esquire

Bar Admissions (North Carolina, Florida and Tennessee) Practice Area (College Sports Law)

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