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College Sports, Division I, Education

NCAA Student-Athlete Reinstatement Education Series: Preferential Treatment, Benefits or Services

The NCAA student-athlete reinstatement staff has issued decisions recently concerning high-profile student-athletes at several NCAA Division I institutions. The Michael L. Buckner Law Firm provided a multi-part series on the student-athlete reinstatement process. The series can be reviewed by using the following links: Part I; Part II; and Part III. Based on the reinstatement decisions involving UF and University of Miami student-athletes, the firm continues its recurring series to educate member institutions and the public on the student-athlete reinstatement process by looking into prior decisions and the rationale the staff used to evaluate each case.

Today’s post will review Student-Athlete Reinstatement Case No. 46906 (which was decided on February 8, 2011). The case involved the men’s basketball program at a Division I institution.

Facts: During fall 2010, men’s basketball student-athlete (SA) received clothing items at a department store at no cost. Specifically, SA and two other SAs were shopping at a local department store December 15, 2010. SA knew an employee of the store who offered to process their purchases at her register. During the processing of SA’s items, employee charged SA for only one item and provided SA with a winter coat, a sweatshirt and sweatpants (valued at $345.81) free of charge. Violation was discovered when institution’s athletics department staff received two e-mails from a member of the general public December 16 and 19 alerting institution to the potential violation.

Institution Action: Institution required that SA repay the value of the impermissible benefit received ($345.81) to a charity of his choice and return the clothing he received at no cost. Institution will also withhold SA from six regularly scheduled men’s basketball contests of the 2010-11 season (20 percent).SA was provided with education regarding preferential treatment and will be required to make a presentation on the topic to all of his teammates and to the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.

Enforcement Action: Secondary violation; no further action.

Eligibility Action: STAFF: Eligibility reinstated based on institutional action requiring that SA make a donation to a charity of his choice in the amount of the impermissible benefits he received ($345.81) and that he be withheld from the next six regularly scheduled contests of the 2010-11 men’s basketball season (20 percent). The contests must be among those used for consideration for team selection for the NCAA championship.

Rationale: STAFF: Based on case precedent and the NCAA Division I Committee on Student-Athlete Reinstatement May 2008 guidelines.

The reinstatement decision relied on an analysis of the following NCAA bylaw:

NCAA Bylaw 12.1.2.1.6 – Preferential Treatment, Benefits or Services.
Preferential treatment, benefits or services because of the individual’s athletics reputation or skill or pay-back potential as a professional athlete, unless such treatment, benefits or services are specifically permitted under NCAA legislation.  [R] (Revised: 1/11/94, 1/14/08)

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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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