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College Sports, Division I, Education

NCAA Secondary Case Review: Voluntary Athletically-Related Activities

The Michael L. Buckner Law Firm continues its educational series on NCAA legislation through a review of selected cases involving secondary rules-violations. Today’s post reviews a secondary case involving a violation of NCAA Bylaw 17.02.13 – Voluntary Athletically Related Activities), which provides:

In order for any athletically related activity to be considered “voluntary,” all of the following conditions must be met:  (Adopted:  4/18/01)

(a)  The student-athlete must not be required to report back to a coach or other athletics department staff member (e.g., strength coach, trainer, manager) any information related to the activity.  In addition, no athletics department staff member who observes the activity (e.g., strength coach, trainer, manager) may report back to the student-athlete’s coach any information related to the activity;

(b)  The activity must be initiated and requested solely by the student-athlete.   Neither the institution nor any athletics department staff member may require the student-athlete to participate in the activity at any time.  However, it is permissible for an athletics department staff member to provide information to student-athletes related to available opportunities for participating in voluntary activities (e.g., times when the strength and conditioning coach will be on duty in the weight room or on the track).  In addition, for students who have initiated a request to engage in voluntary activities, the institution or an athletics department staff member may assign specific times for student-athletes to use institutional facilities for such purposes and inform the student-athletes of the time in advance;

(c)  The student-athlete’s attendance and participation in the activity (or lack thereof) may not be recorded for the purposes of reporting such information to coaching staff members or other student-athletes; and

(d)  The student-athlete may not be subjected to penalty if he or she elects not to participate in the activity.  In addition, neither the institution nor any athletics department staff member may provide recognition or incentives (e.g., awards) to a student-athlete based on his or her attendance or performance in the activity.

[Note:  Coaching staff members may be present during permissible skill-related instruction pursuant to Bylaws 17.1.6.2.2 and 17.1.6.2.3]  (Revised: 4/29/04 effective 8/1/04)

The bylaw was cited in Secondary Case Number 48826 (November 4, 2011), which is summarized below:

Facts: During the fall 2010 season, the football student-athletes signed a sign-in sheet for voluntary film review sessions. Specifically, the football student-athletes wanted to self-police who was attending the voluntary film review sessions, so they created a sign-in sheet to hang in the team meeting room where each student-athlete could record his film review hours. The assistant football coaches were aware of the sign-in sheet, but were unaware that it was impermissible for the student-athletes to self-police their film review. The sign-in sheets were not regulated or mandated by the assistant football coaches and the student-athletes were not punished or rewarded for their film review. The violation was discovered when a football student-athlete referenced the sign-in sheet during his exit interview.

Additional Facts: None.

Institution Action: Compliance discussed issue with entire football coaching staff, director of athletics and faculty athletics representative. Topic addressed at rules education session for coaches. Letters of admonishment issued to all involved coaching staff members.

Enforcement Action: No further action.

Eligibility Action: None.

Rationale: None.

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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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