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College Sports, Division II

NCAA Division II Secondary Case Review: Eligibility for Practice and Competition

The Michael L. Buckner Law Firm continues its educational series on NCAA Division II legislation through a review of selected cases involving secondary rules-violations. Today’s post reviews a secondary case involving a violation of NCAA Division II Bylaws 16.8.1.2.1 and 12.1.1.1.3. These rules provide:

NCAA Division II Bylaw 16.8.1.2.1: Competing While Representing Institution

An institution may provide actual and necessary travel expenses (e.g., transportation, lodging and meals) to a student-athlete for participation in athletics competition, provided the student-athlete is representing the institution (competes in the uniform of the institution) and is eligible for intercollegiate competition.  Such competition includes:  

  (a) Regularly scheduled intercollegiate athletics events;

  (b) NCAA championship events and national governing body championship events in an emerging sport; 

  (c) A certified postseason football game (see Bylaw 18.7 for conditions required for certification);

  (d) Nonintercollegiate open, amateur competition; and

  (e) Other institutional competition permissible under NCAA legislation, including postseason events.

NCAA Division II Bylaw 12.1.1.1.3: Eligibility for Practice and Competition

Prior to engaging in practice or competition, a student-athlete shall receive a certification of amateur status for activities that occur prior to the certification or initial full-time enrollment at an NCAA Division I or II institution (whichever occurs earlier).

The bylaws were cited in Secondary Case Number 48387 (July 8, 2011), which involves Division II football. The case is summarized below:

Facts: Institution permitted a second-year walk-on football student-athlete (SA) to practice, travel and compete in three contests prior to receiving final amateurism certification from NCAA Eligibility Center. Specifically, SA initially enrolled at institution fall 2009, but did not participate in athletics. SA did not register with NCAA Eligibility Center and, therefore, never received academic or amateurism certification. In spring 2010, SA joined the football program for spring practices and participated in 15 practice opportunities and 24 conditioning activities. All SAs who filled out paperwork and tried out for the team in spring were added to the squad list until they were cut from the team. SA remained on the football team at the conclusion of spring practices, and returned for the 2010-11 academic year. Institution erroneously certified SA for the 2010-11 season without amateurism certification since SA’s amateur status was overlooked due to his name being on the football squad list from spring 2010. Institution’s compliance staff assumed SA had already completed amateurism certification since he appeared on the football squad list from the previous term. Further, being a second-year student in fall 2010, SA’s academic eligibility was certified based on progress-toward-degree requirements rather than initial eligibility requirements. SA practiced on 36 occasions and competed in three contests during the fall 2010 season prior to discovery of the violation. Violation was discovered on September 22, 2010, when institution’s assistant director of athletics for compliance was completing an academic tracking census for the previous academic year and noticed SA did not have an NCAA Eligibility Center ID number. SA immediately registered with NCAA Eligibility Center and subsequently received final amateurism certification September 28, 2010.

Institution Action: Institution will conduct a rules education session specific to student-athlete eligibility and amateurism, specifically pertaining to students joining teams after their freshman year. Institution will pay a fine of $250 for each contest the student-athlete participated in while ineligible.

Enforcement Action: Secondary violation, no further action.

Eligibility Action: Eligibility reinstated with the condition SA  be withheld from the next regularly scheduled football contest of the 2010-11 season.

Rationale: Based on case precedent and the NCAA Division II Committee on Student-Athlete Reinstatement’s May 2008 guidelines for SAs initially enrolling at an NCAA Division II institution for the 2009-10 academic year, indicating a one-for-two withholding condition capped at 10 percent for competition violations and full relief for practice violations prior to amateurism certification in situations where SA is subsequently certified as an amateur.

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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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