The Michael L. Buckner Law Firm continues its review of pertinent NCAA official and staff interpretations with a look at the following May 26, 2010, interpretation in Division I by the NCAA academic and membership affairs staff concerning activities at an off-campus practice or competition facility during an unofficial visit:
The academic and membership affairs staff determined that the following activities at an off-campus practice or competition facility are permissible during an unofficial visit, provided the prospective student-athlete visits the institution’s campus during the unofficial visit:
a. The unofficial visit may begin or end at an off-campus practice or competition facility (e.g., golf course, boathouse);
b. The prospective student-athlete is permitted to eat a meal at an off-campus practice or competition facility, provided he or she pays the actual cost of the meal; and
c. Contact during the unofficial visit between institutional staff members or student-athletes and the prospective student-athlete at an off-campus practice or competition facility is not considered an off-campus contact.
The interpretation referenced: NCAA Bylaws 13.02.15.2 (unofficial visit), 13.1.6 (contacts), 13.5.3 (transportation on unofficial visit) and 184.108.40.206.1 (meals); staff interpretation (6/9/89, Item No. i); and official interpretation (4/28/94, Item No. 4)]. The legislation is included below:
Bylaw 220.127.116.11.2 – Meals.
A prospective student-athlete on an unofficial visit to an institution may pay the actual cost of meals (or the regular cost of training-table meals) and eat with other prospective student-athletes who are on their official visits or with enrolled student-athletes.
Bylaw 13.5.3 – Transportation on Unofficial Visit.
During any unofficial recruiting visit, the institution may provide the prospective student-athlete with transportation to view practice and competition sites in the prospective student-athlete’s sport and other institutional facilities and to attend a home athletics contest at any local facility. An institutional staff member must accompany the prospective student-athlete during such a trip. Payment of any other transportation expenses, shall be considered a violation. [R] (Revised: 1/11/89, 4/27/00, 3/10/04, 4/28/05, 1/9/06 effective 8/1/06, 4/27/06)
Bylaw 13.02.16.2 – Unofficial Visit.
An unofficial visit to a member institution by a prospective student-athlete is a visit made at the prospective student-athlete’s own expense. The provision of any expenses or entertainment valued at more than $100 by the institution or representatives of its athletics interests shall require the visit to become an official visit, except as permitted in Bylaws 13.5 and 13.7. (Revised: 2/22/07, 5/9/08)
The Michael L. Buckner Law Firm recommends institutions address the interpretation in its: (a) next rules-education session with athletics staff; and (b) athletics compliance manual.