On March 1, 2012, the academic and membership affairs staff issued an interpretation concerning permissible timing for providing annual participation awards. Specifically, the staff confirmed that “it is not permissible for an institution to provide an annual participation award (e.g., winter coats, travel blazers) to a student-athlete in a particular sport prior to the day of the institution’s final home contest of the regular playing season in that sport.”
This interpretation referenced NCAA Division I Bylaw 126.96.36.199 (annual participation awards); official interpretations (01/22/87, Item No. 4) and (02/16/00, Item No. 2 ), which has been archived.
In light of this interpretation, the Michael L. Buckner Law Firm recommends institutions’ athletics compliance: a) include the interpretation in the next scheduled rules-education session for the athletics staff, coaches and staff members with athletically related responsibilities; and b) review annual participation gift policies and procedures.