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College Sports, Division I

New Division I Interpretation: Certification of Institutional Aid Unrelated to Athletics Ability

On March 12, 2012, the committee issued an interpretation concerning certification of institutional aid unrelated to athletics ability. Specifically, the committee confirmed that “an institution is not permitted to certify that a student-athlete’s institutional financial aid is unrelated in any degree to athletics ability if the student-athlete’s athletics participation or achievements are criteria specifically requested as part of the application process for such aid.”  However, the committee also confirmed “an institution may certify that the student-athlete’s aid is unrelated in any degree to athletics ability (even if the student-athlete lists athletics participation or achievements as part of his or her extracurricular activities), provided such factors were not specifically requested as part of the application process and were not taken into consideration in awarding the institutional aid to the student-athlete.”

This interpretation referenced NCAA Division I Bylaws 15.5.1 (counters), 15.5.1.1 (no athletics aid — certification required), 15.5.1.2 (football or basketball, varsity competition); and a staff interpretation (09/12/11, Item No. a), which has been archived].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 admissions or financial-aid related responsibilities; and b) review athletics aid policies and procedures to ensure compliance with this interpretation.

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About Justin P. Sievert, Esquire

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

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