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College Sports, Division III, Education

NCAA Division III Secondary Case Review: Extra-Benefits

The Michael L. Buckner Law Firm continues its educational series on NCAA legislation through a review of selected cases involving secondary rules-violations. Today, we will also begin to look at secondary rules-violations cases at the NCAA Division III level. Today’s post reviews a secondary case involving a violation of NCAA Bylaw 16.02.3. The rule provides:

NCAA Division III Bylaw 16.02.3.

An extra benefit is any special arrangement by an institutional employee or a representative of the institution’s athletics interests to provide a student-athlete or the student-athlete’s relative or friend a benefit not expressly authorized by NCAA legislation.  Receipt of a benefit by student-athletes or their relatives or friends is not a violation of NCAA legislation if it is demonstrated that the same benefit is generally available to the institution’s students or their relatives or friends or to a particular segment of the student body determined on a basis unrelated to athletics ability. (Revised: 1/10/91, 10/15/08)

The bylaws were cited in Secondary Case Number 47172 (March 7, 2011), which involves Division III women’s softball. The case is summarized below:

Facts: During 2009-10 and 2010-11 academic years, Institution’s head softball coach impermissibly provided strength and conditioning services from a local outside organization. Specifically, from November 2009 through January 2010 and from November 2010 through January 2011, head softball coach used funds from institution’s softball program fundraising account to pay for membership for each softball student-athlete (SA) to attend sessions and services with a local strength and conditioning organization. Violation discovered when one of institution’s other head coaches inquired about permissibility of providing his team with same memberships during their off-season. When institution’s director of compliance informed him arrangement would be impermissible, compliance staff was immediately made aware of occurrence within softball program. Head softball coach indicated he was unaware providing memberships to his team was impermissible. Based on their years of participation, SA Nos. 1-8 each received impermissible benefit in amount of $191.25 and SA Nos. 9-14 each received impermissible benefit in amount of $274.58.

Institution Action: Institution required all SAs to repay amount of impermissible benefit received to charity (SA Nos. 1-8: $191.25, SA Nos. 9-14: $274.58). Institution’s next coaches meeting will have special emphasis on extra benefits. Institution will also continue to educate all SAs regarding extra benefits in their pre-season compliance meetings, using this case as an example. Head softball coach will receive a letter of reprimand and will be required to sit out of team’s first two games of 2010-11 season. Finally, head softball coach will make contribution to charity in maximum amount required for student-athletes involved ($274.58).

Enforcement Action: Secondary violation; no further action.

Eligibility Action: STAFF: Eligibility reinstated based on institution’s action requiring repayment of impermissible benefit received. (SA Nos. 1-8: $191.25, SA Nos. 9-14: $274.58)

Rationale: STAFF: Based on totality of the circumstances and case precedent. The staff did not impose a withholding condition for SAs given the institutional involvement in arranging the impermissible extra benefit and SAs’ reliance on the head coach.

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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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