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College Sports, Division I, Education

NCAA Secondary Case Review: Extra-Benefits and Apartment Cancellation Fees

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 Bylaws 16.02.3 (Extra-Benefit) and 16.11.2.1 (General Rule). The bylaws provide:

Bylaw 16.02.3 – Extra Benefit. An extra benefit is any special arrangement by an institutional employee or a representative of the institution’s athletics interests to provide a student-athlete or the student-athlete’s relative or friend a benefit not expressly authorized by NCAA legislation.  Receipt of a benefit by student-athletes or their relatives or friends is not a violation of NCAA legislation if it is demonstrated that the same benefit is generally available to the institution’s students or their relatives or friends or to a particular segment of the student body (e.g., international students, minority students) determined on a basis unrelated to athletics ability.  (Revised: 1/10/91)

Bylaw 16.11.2.1 – General Rule. The student-athlete shall not receive any extra benefit. The term “extra benefit” refers to any special arrangement by an institutional employee or representative of the institution’s athletics interests to provide the student-athlete or his or her relatives or friends with a benefit not expressly authorized by NCAA legislation. [R]  

The bylaw was cited in Secondary Case Number 47811 (July 19, 2011) involving women’s basketball student-athletes, which is summarized below:

Facts: During 2009 fall, institution permitted two recruited, third-year women’s basketball student-athletes (SAs) to receive an impermissible extra benefit valued at $400 each. Specifically, SAs were living in an off-campus apartment at the beginning of 2009 fall semester. SAs apartment was burglarized during first month of school and SAs decided they did not want to continue living in apartments subsequent to incident. SAs decided to break their lease with apartment complex and were advised by complex if SAs found others to take over current lease and moved into an on-campus facility, the move would be considered a transfer and $400 cancellation fee would be waived. SAs successfully found suitable renters to resume their lease consistent with apartment complex policy available to all students. However, during this time, a friend of SA No. 1 introduced both SAs to Institution’s vice president for student-affairs in an effort to help navigate process of terminating their current lease and establishing an on-campus lease to satisfy facility transfer requirement. Vice president for student-affairs instructed SAs to go to residence hall and also subsequently instructed residence hall staff to give SAs a tour, help them select a room, sign their lease papers but not to submit lease papers to residence hall management system in housing office which manages all residence hall information, including billing. Neither SA was required to pay an application fee or security deposit associated with signing new lease for on-campus residence. Although SAs were issued keys for residence hall rooms for which they had signed leases, they did not physically live at residence hall inasmuch as they had already secured other off-campus housing. SAs subsequently returned their keys to on-campus housing facility. Institution noted vice president for student-affairs acted outside normal policies and processes available to general student-body in arranging for SAs to be released from their existing lease obligation without being assessed $400 cancellation policy. Finally, institution believes SAs acted in good faith reliance on a university official and were unaware arrangement was impermissible. Institution discovered violation March 4, 2011, when vice chancellor for legal affairs informed director of athletics of a possible compliance violation regarding SAs housing arrangements as a result of a separate and unrelated investigation being conducted by legal affairs office.

Additional Facts: None.

Institution Action: Institution required SAs to make donation of value of impermissible benefit received ($400) to a charity of their choice.

Enforcement Action: The institution should be required to issue the vice president a letter of admonishment for his involvement in the violations.

Eligibility Action: STAFF: Eligibility reinstated based on institutional action requiring SAs donate $400 to a charity of their choice.

Rationale: STAFF: Based on totality of circumstances and institutional involvement, staff provided relief from typical 20-percent withholding condition associated with amount of impermissible benefit received. In providing relief, staff noted: (1) Safety concerns of involved SAs given they had been victims of a crime and were concerned with remaining at apartment complex; (2) significant institutional involvement by senior-level institutional administrator; and (3) SA’s reliance on this individual that arrangement was permissible. Given these facts as presented by institution, staff did not believe withholding was appropriate.

 

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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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