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College Sports, Division I

NCAA Division I Secondary Case Review: Student-Athlete Awards for Outside Competition

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 I Bylaws and Bylaw The bylaws provide:

Bylaw (Awards Received by a Student-Athlete While Enrolled as a Full-Time Student) : The awards limitations of Bylaw 16.1 apply to awards received by a student-athlete while enrolled during the academic year (from the beginning of the fall term through completion of the spring term, including any intervening vacation period) as a regular student in a minimum full-time academic load, or awards received by a student-athlete while representing the student-athlete’s institution at any other time.  Such awards may not include cash, gift certificates, gift cards that are redeemable for cash (original amount or any balance thereof), a cash-equivalent award (an item that is negotiable for cash or trade or other services, benefits or merchandise) for athletics participation, or a country club or sports club membership.

Bylaw (Awards Based on Performance in Outside Competition): An individual may receive an award (e.g., trophy, medal, saddle) based on place finish or performance in outside competition, subject to the applicable pre- and post-enrollment awards limits.

The bylaw was cited in Secondary Case Number 51570 (April 23, 2012) involving a men’s track and field student-athlete, which is summarized below:

Facts: During fall 2011, a fourth-year men’s cross-country/track and field student-athlete (SA) participated in a local road race and accepted an impermissible award for winning the race. Specifically, SA won a local road race November 12, 2011, and accepted a trophy and watch. Prize money was also offered based on his place finish but SA declined the prize money because he knew it would jeopardize his eligibility. SA discussed receipt of awards with race director who agreed SA could not accept prize money but assured SA that he could accept the trophy and watch. On returning to campus two days later, SA discussed receipt of awards with his head coach. Head coach informed SA he could not accept the watch and he should return it immediately, which SA did. SA indicated he was educated by compliance office regarding receipt of prize money but relied on the race director regarding accepting other items. Institution valued the watch at $550 and indicated the trophy was a permissible outside award.

Institution Action: Rules education will be provided to men’s and women’s track teams during their mandatory spring compliance meetings. SA returned watch as soon as he became aware of the violation.

Enforcement Action: No further action.


About Justin P. Sievert, Esquire

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


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