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College Sports, Division I, Education

New NCAA Division I Interpretation: Student-Athlete’s Voluntary Release of Institution’s Obligation to Provide Athletically Related Financial Aid

On September 21, 2011, the academic and membership affairs staff issued an interpretation concerning the voluntary release of an institution’s obligation to provide athletically related financial aid. The staff confirmed that “once a prospective or enrolled student-athlete signs an institution’s financial aid agreement, it is not permissible to voluntarily release the institution’s obligation to provide athletically related financial aid, except under the conditions set forth in the release of obligation to provide athletically related financial aid legislation.”

NCAA Bylaw 15.4.2 explains that institutional financial aid based in any degree on athletics ability may be reduced or canceled during the period of the award for four reasons: (1) the student-athlete renders himself or herself ineligible for intercollegiate competition; (2) the student-athlete fraudulently misrepresents information on an application, letter of intent or financial aid agreement; (3) the student-athlete engages in serious misconduct warranting substantial disciplinary penalty; and (4) the student-athlete voluntarily withdraws from a sport at any time for personal reasons.

In light of this interpretation, the Michael L. Buckner Law Firm recommends institutions’ athletics compliance: a) review policies and procedures regarding the cancellation or reduction of athletically related financial aid at their institution; and b) include the interpretation in the next scheduled rules-education session for the athletics staff.

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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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