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College Sports, Division II

NCAA Division II Secondary Case Review: Amateurism Certification Process

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 Bylaw 12.1.1. The rule provides:

12.1.1: Amateurism Certification Process

An institution shall use an eligibility center approved by the Executive Committee to determine the validity of the information on which the amateur status of a student-athlete is based.

The case is summarized below:

Facts: During the 2008 fall semester, an institution permitted a second-year, walk-on football student-athlete (SA) to practice 76 times, travel and compete in five contests prior to receiving final amateurism certification from NCAA Eligibility Center. Specifically, the SA graduated from high school in June 2007 and initially enrolled at an NCAA Division II institution for the 2007-08 academic year. The SA did not participate in athletics during his initial year of enrollment. The SA subsequently transferred to applicant institution for the 2008-09 academic year and joined the football program as a walk-on. Prior to the 2008 football season, the institution certified the SA as a transfer but failed to verify his amateur certification status. The SA participated with the football team for the 2008 season, practicing on 76 occasions and competing in five contests. The SA was subsequently declared ineligible for the 2009-10 season and did not participate with the football program. This violation was discovered in the summer of 2010 when the SA was added back onto the football roster as a potential walk-on. The institution’s compliance staff again reviewed the SA’s eligibility status, at which time it was discovered that the SA was missing amateur certification. The SA subsequently received final amateurism certification from the Eligibility Center August 19, 2010, with no additional follow-up.

Institution Action:  The institution withheld the SA from all pre-season football activities. The institution conducted an in-depth review of all student-athletes to review their amateur status and implemented a new certification process in which web status reports are printed for each individual student-athlete and attached to their eligibility form.

Enforcement Action: The institution was required to pay a fine in the amount of $1,250 ($250 for each contest in which the SA competed while ineligible, up to a maximum amount of $2,500). The money will be used to fund the Division II Make-A-Wish Foundation Account. The contests in which the SA competed while ineligible were also nullified.

Eligibility Action: Eligibility reinstated.

Rationale: Based on the totality of circumstances and case precedent, the staff did not impose a withholding condition. Specifically, the staff determined that in cases involving institutional failure to receive final amateurism certification prior to practice or competition when the SA is subsequently certified without being flagged or needing additional follow-up, the SA should not be withheld from competition that occurred while ineligible. This is based on the fact that in the initial year of the amateurism certification process, the responsibility to ensure final status prior to certification should lie with the institution. Although in this instance, the SA competed in 2008-09 academic year, the SA initially enrolled in the 2007-08 academic year. Therefore, the 2007-08 guidelines addressing impermissible participation prior to final amateurism certification apply and complete relief is granted.



About Justin P. Sievert, Esquire

Bar Admissions (North Carolina, Florida and Tennessee) Practice Area (College Sports Law)


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