The Michael L. Buckner Law Firm continues its educational series on NCAA Division II legislation through a review of selected cases involving student-athlete reinstatement decisions. Today’s post reviews a decision involving a violation of NCAA Division II Bylaw 12.3.1. These rules provide:
NCAA Division II Bylaw 12.3.1: General Rule (Sports Agents)
An individual shall be ineligible for participation in an intercollegiate sport, if he or she ever has agreed (orally or in writing) to be represented by an agent for the purpose of marketing his or her athletics ability or reputation in that sport. Further, an agency contract not specifically limited in writing to a sport or particular sports shall be deemed applicable to all sports, and the individual shall be ineligible to participate in any sport.
The bylaws were cited in Student-Athlete Reinstatement Case Number 37025 (December 14, 2010), which involves Division II women’s tennis. The case is summarized below:
Facts: Prior to initial full-time collegiate enrollment, international women’s tennis prospective student-athlete (PSA) from Venezuela signed a written contract with Biandra Limited sports agency. Specifically, PSA graduated high school June 2008. During 2008-09 and 2009-10 academic years, PSA was not enrolled at any institution and competed in various tennis tournaments. Biandra Limited sports agency contacted PSA’s coach and asked to meet with PSA. PSA first met agent from Biandra Limited during tournament May 2009. PSA stated her coach encouraged her to sign with agent in order to benefit her tennis career and assist in reaching her goal of becoming a top 100 ranked player. PSA and PSA’s mother entered into a contract with Biandra Limited July 1, 2009, with a “Representation Period” beginning July 1, 2009, and extending to June 30, 2012. Per terms of the contract, Biandra Limited took “sole and exclusive responsibility for the development, negotiation and organization of all income producing activities and opportunities… arising from [his] profession as a tennis player.” PSA stated she signed contract with Biandra Limited in order to improve her ranking. Additionally, PSA stated she received a Wilson Sponsorship, including six racquets, five reels of string, a travel bag, a tennis bag and grips January 2010 while under contract. PSA did not receive any benefits from Biandra Limited, nor did agency provide PSA with monetary agreements, endorsement deals of promotional events as promised. PSA stated she has not been in contact with Biandra Limited since January 2010 and she was unaware of NCAA amateurism rules prior to signing contract. Although PSA discontinued her communication with Biandra Limited, the contract she signed was never officially terminated by either party and remains in effect through June 30, 2012.
Eligibility Action: Eligibility not reinstated.
Rationale: Based on case precedent involving agent violations and the NCAA Division II Committee on Student-Athlete Reinstatement’s 2006 prescribed penalties for amateurism violations, the staff did not reinstate PSA. Specifically, in coming to its decision, staff noted that PSA’s violation involving her act of signing a contract in which she agreed to be represented by an agent compromised PSA’s amateur status to a degree where reinstatement of eligibility was not warranted.