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College Sports, Division III

NCAA Division III Secondary Case Review: Competition While Representing an Institution

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 Division III Bylaw (Competition While Representing Institution). The bylaws provide:

Bylaw Competition While Representing Institution: An institution may provide actual and necessary travel expenses (e.g., transportation, lodging and meals) to a student-athlete who is eligible for intercollegiate competition, provided the student-athlete departs for the competition not earlier than 48 hours before the start of the actual competition and remains not more than 36 hours following the conclusion of the actual competition even if the student-athlete does not return with the team.  Such competition includes: [D] (Revised: 1/10/92, 1/13/98, 1/8/01)

(a) Regularly scheduled intercollegiate athletics events; and

(b) NCAA championship events and national governing body championship events in an emerging sport. (Revised: 1/14/97)

The bylaw was cited in Secondary Case Number 46518 (February 11, 2011) involving a wrestling student-athlete, which is summarized below:

Facts: The head coach (HC) allowed a volunteer assistant coach (VAC) and a PSA, who were not certified to compete, to represent the institution in an open wrestling tournament. Specifically, the VAC is a graduate student at the institution who was a wrestling student-athlete for a different institution as an undergraduate. On December 5, 2010, the VAC traveled with the team to a tournament and wrestled in the institution’s uniform. The VAC did not pay an entry fee, and the HC informed the tournament staff that the VAC’s fee should be covered by the $200 team entry fee paid by the institution that covered the eight qualified wrestlers. In addition, the PSA was allowed to travel with the team and compete in the institution’s uniform. The PSA is not a student-athlete. The PSA did not pay an entry fee, and the HC informed the tournament staff that the PSA’s fee should be covered by the $200 team entry fee paid by the institution. The HC failed to inform meet officials that the VAC and the PSA were wrestling as unattached and both individuals wrestled as attached to the institution. The HC thought that since the VAC was an assistant coach he was eligible to travel with the team and represent the institution in the institution’s uniform. However, the athletics director had told the HC previously that the VAC could not wear the uniform in competition. The HC thought the rules were different for open tournaments as opposed to invitational tournaments or dual meets. The HC also believed it was permissible for the PSA to compete in the event because it was an open tournament. The HC believed there was no regulation prohibiting him from paying for the PSA since the institution would incur no additional costs. The violation was discovered when the athletics office received and reviewed the tournament results and discovered that the VAC and the PSA were listed as representing the institution.

Additional Facts: None.

Institution Action: HC was reprimanded and letter put in his file. HC will be suspended for one match and was informed that any further violations will resut in further sanctions up to and including termination. HC will not recruit the involved PSA and should the PSA enroll at the institution will remain ineligible. The VAC was suspended from his position as assistant coach for remainder of season and will have not association with the team. Institution will forfeit results from tournament. Both the VAC and the PSA asked to reimburse $25 to the institution to cover their entry fees into the tournament. In order to avoid future violations: HC was instructed to reread rules and will be tested to ensure he is 100% knowledgeable; he has been specifically educated as to differences between open tournaments and other competitions. HC has been instructed to submit, in writing, names of all team members who will compete in any upcoming contest 3 days in advance. That list will be vetted by the office and the coach may not deviate from that list. Entire institution’s coaching staff will review applicable rules.

Enforcement Action: No further action.

Eligibility Action: The institution should be required to forfeit/vacate any individual points that the VAC and the PSA earned in the contest in which they competed while ineligible, and adjust team standings accordingly. In addition, please note that the PSA is ineligible for intercollegiate competition until his eligibility is restored by the NCAA student-athlete reinstatement staff.


About Justin P. Sievert, Esquire

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


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