Just hours after the announcement on Wednesday by the NCAA Board of Governors directing the three divisions to “…safeguard student-athlete well-being, scholarships, and eligibility…,” Divisions II and III announced that they are cancelling championships in Fall sports.

At the time of that announcement, 11 of the 23 Division II conferences had already announced that they will not compete during the Fall season.

The NCAA Board of Governors recently received a lengthy 31-page report from the “Federal and State Legislation Working Group” suggesting broad recommendations for new rules that will permit student-athletes to receive compensation for the use of their name, image or likeness.

When approved, student-athletes will be able to accept payment within the NCAA rules for a wide range of activities. However, many details remain to be proposed, discussed and finalized.

Some of the basic guidelines for development of these new rules include:

  • Student-athletes will not be paid for these types of activities by their respective schools or conferences, or by the NCAA.
  • Student-athletes should have the same opportunities as the general student body to be compensated for their particular skills, ability, and name recognition except when there are compelling reasons to the contrary. (Examples: I’m sure that athletes will not be allowed to promote tobacco products, nor will underage athletes be permitted to endorse alcohol products.)
  • Education and progress toward a student-athlete’s degree must continue to be priorities. (Student-athletes will likely be prohibited from missing class to make a personal appearance, record a commercial or participate in any similar activity.)
  • Rules regarding these activities must be able to be enforceable and monitored for compliance with these rules (perhaps the hardest part of this whole concept in my opinion!!!).
  • Student-athletes will not be allowed to affiliate with a professional sports team and will not be allowed to receive compensation based specifically on their athletic performance (no prize money or compensation based on place finish in competition).
  • Rules must protect fairness in the recruitment of prospects or impermissible tampering with currently enrolled student-athletes.
  • A number of states have proposed or passed legislation within their own states to permit student-athletes to receive compensation for endorsement or promotional activities. The NCAA will be working with Congressional representatives to preempt state laws so that there can be consistency for all NCAA member institutions and their student-athletes.

Types of Activities that Will be Permissible for Student-Athletes Within the New Rules (pending approval):

Student-athletes will be allowed to receive compensation for:

  • Promoting local, regional or national businesses through personal appearances, appearing in commercials, or as social media “brand ambassadors.”
  • Modeling or signing autographs.
  • Their own creative endeavors such as acting, singing, or selling their artwork.
  • Giving private lessons or tutoring.
  • Conducting or providing research or class projects for or to private companies.

Much progress still needs to be made on establishing details and receiving feedback from various NCAA constituencies. However, the NCAA Board of Governors remain committed to having the three NCAA divisions prepare specific legislative proposals in time for the January 2021 NCAA Convention.

We will keep you updated as we learn more details and receive additional information.

Last week, I listened to a records conference call tin which NCAA Division I representatives provided updates and answered questions for a group of Division I athletic directors and conference commissioners.

Key takeaways from the conference call

On March 30, the NCAA Division I Council will vote on these issues:

  • Whether all Division I spring sport student-athletes will be able to receive an additional season of eligibility. They had previously agreed in principle to the “concept” of all Division I spring sport athletes receiving an additional year of eligibility, but no official decision has been made at this point.
  • Whether Division I winter sport student-athletes will be able to receive an additional season of eligibility.
  • Whether the scholarship limits for Division I spring sports will be increased for next year, and whether a 6th year of eligibility will be offered to all spring sport athletes or only to those who are currently in their last year of their “five-year clock.”
  • They will also address the impact of an additional year of eligibility for those student-athletes who transfer to an NCAA Division I university from another college level.

Will NCAA “Dead Period” be Extended?

Based on input from the NCAA’s Chief Medical Officer and the NCAA COVID-19 Advisory Panel, we should expect that the current NCAA “Dead Period” prohibiting in-person recruiting activity will be extended beyond the current imposed date of April 15. We should learn more about that after another NCAA conference call scheduled for April 1.

Transfer Waiver Issue

Discussion of a possible Transfer Waiver which will allow scholarship athletes in Baseball, Basketball, Football and Men’s Ice Hockey a one-time opportunity to transfer and be eligible the following year at another Division I school has been pushed back from the NCAA Division I Council’s April meeting to their June meeting.

At the NCAA Annual Convention last week in Anaheim, the Division I Board of Directors and other leadership committees received an update from the committee studying the NCAA rules which will permit athletes to receive compensation for the use of their name, image or likeness (commonly referred to as NIL in social media).

The Board of Directors and leadership committees reaffirmed the following principles that will be used to guide the development of proposed legislation:

  • Student-athletes should not become employees of their schools
  • The rules regarding name, image, and likeness should be transparent and enforceable for all sports equally.
  • These rules should protect the recruiting process, as well as opportunities for women equally to those for male athletes.
  • College athletes should have the same access to opportunities as their peers who don’t participate in college sports as long as fairness in the recruiting process is protected.

Broad legislative concepts are due to be developed and available for discussion and debate within the Division I membership by the end of April.

Actual proposed rule changes which will lay out the specific conditions and guidelines for athletes to receive such compensation will likely not be publicized until late summer or next Fall. Broad legislative concepts are due to be developed and available for discussion and debate within the Division I membership by the end of April.

We will keep you updated as we learn more.

Yesterday, the NCAA’s Board of Governors voted unanimously to begin the legislative process that will permit NCAA student-athletes to benefit from the use of their name, image and likeness “in a manner consistent with the collegiate model.”

This vote regarding the potential use of an athlete’s “name, image, or likeness” (commonly referred to as “NIL”) paves the way for student-athletes to potentially receive payment for their autographs, for personal appearances, and for their picture or image (and possibly their voice) to promote commercial products and services.

Developing these new rules will certainly be no easy task.

The Board in conjunction with a “Federal and State Legislation Working Group” has established a list of principles and guidelines to direct the work of the NCAA, conferences, and university representatives in all three divisions as they develop and propose appropriate legislation to be considered by NCAA member institutions.

Among these principles and guidelines are the following:

  • “Ensure rules are transparent, focused and enforceable and facilitate fair and balanced competition.”
  • “Protect the recruiting environment and prohibit inducements to select, remain at, or transfer to a specific institution.”
  • “Maintain the priorities of education and the collegiate experience to provide opportunities for student-athlete success.”

As you might imagine, I have many questions as to how this will play out over the coming months.

  • For example, how will the NCAA create rules that will allow campus compliance administrators to determine, much less enforce how much a student-athlete’s signature, personal appearance at an event, or use of likeness is worth?
  • How will standards be set such that universities with large alumni bases and/or that are located in large metropolitan areas with thousands of businesses won’t have a recruiting advantage over mid-major and smaller universities in the Midwest or great plains states because of the endorsement opportunities that will be available to athletes at those larger universities?

The Board of Governors has expressed a desire for each NCAA division to come up with new rules as soon as possible, but no later than January 2021. For the full NCAA press release, click on this link:  https://bit.ly/2JxUsu8.

We’ll keep you updated as we learn more.  In the meantime, if you have any questions call us at 913-766-1235 or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

 

On Monday, September 30, Governor Gavin Newsom signed California Senate Bill 206 which will permit student-athletes at California four-year colleges to accept compensation for the use of their name, likeness, or personal appearance which is contrary to current NCAA rules.

The Bill will not take effect until January 1, 2023.

The NCAA Board of Governors has stated their opposition to the Bill. Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith is chairing an NCAA committee that is tasked with review of the current NCAA rules regarding endorsement legislation and considering possible changes to those rules.

Reaction from Universities Outside the State of California

Initial reaction from athletic directors at major universities outside California is concern about the unfair recruiting advantage that California colleges will have. These universities are also expressing reluctance to schedule competition against California colleges in the future.

In fact, the California colleges and universities won’t be eligible for NCAA post-season competition if this issue isn’t resolved before Senate Bill 206 becomes effective in 2023.

My Thoughts on This Issue

Many are in favor of student-athletes having the opportunity to benefit from the exposure that they bring to their college teams. However, given my 25+ years working on-campus in NCAA compliance, I have many thoughts about how this will affect student-athletes and athletic departments as a whole.

Does a star athlete bring exposure to their team, or is it the other way around?

For example, would a star athlete at USC or UCLA have as much “value” when endorsing a product if they were instead playing for Cal Baptist or UC-Santa Barbara?

How will this affect student-athletes in non-revenue sports?

If local businesses that support a college athletic department choose to instead pay student-athletes directly for endorsing their business, could this result in fewer dollars from local businesses supporting the non-revenue sports like swimming, track and field, rowing, wresting and have a negative impact on those sports?

Will endorsements have an affect on the way an athlete competes?

Say for example, a star basketball player is receiving $100,000 or more from a booster to endorse that booster’s business. Will the player listen to the coach’s instructions if he’s told that he’s to pass to a teammate for the last-second shot or will he take the shot himself?

Will offensive linemen let the quarterback get sacked as retaliation if the quarterback isn’t sharing his endorsement dollars by purchasing meals or other items for the linemen?

Similarly, will the infielders and outfielders provide solid defense for a starting pitcher who’s receiving large fees for endorsements as the projected #1 pick in the upcoming major league baseball draft?

Could the colleges and universities in California choose to leave the NCAA to form their own statewide athletic governing body?

That would be possible, since the California community colleges already have their own California Community College Athletic Association which is completely separate from the National Junior College Athletic Association.

It seems to me, however, that such a move could severely damage the bargaining power and potential revenue from ESPN, Fox Sports, and other networks and streaming services that currently provide a substantial portion of revenues received by those NCAA universities.

In Summary

There are no specific answers to any of these concerns at this time, but it’s a topic that will be interesting to follow in the upcoming months and years.

At the recent NCAA Regional Rules Workshop, NCAA staff announced the rollout of a new Degree Completion Assistance Program for former DI basketball athletes who qualify.

Effective August 1, 2019, NCAA Division I athletic programs will be required to provide tuition, fees, and books (but not room and board) for their former men’s and women’s basketball athletes who meet all of the following criteria:

  • Participated at that particular university in men’s or women’s basketball;
  • Received an athletic scholarship from the university;
  • Were enrolled at the university for at least two academic years;
  • Satisfied Progress-Toward-Degree requirements at the time the athlete left campus;
  • Has not attended another university as a full-time student since departure;
  • Satisfies university re-admission and financial aid requirements;
  • Departed the university within the last 10 years; AND
  • Has exhausted other degree completion funding opportunities (such as the NBA Tuition Reimbursement program).

Athletes who might qualify for this program should contact the Compliance office at the university where they played basketball.

In the past week, we’ve heard about wealthy families who used illegal “side-door” tactics for their son or daughter to be admitted to prestigious universities.  In some cases, they were led by William “Rick” Singer to falsely represent their kids as highly talented or elite athletes.

Why did some families falsely represent their child as a student-athlete?

Most university athletic departments have a limited number of “exemption slots.”  These slots are typically used for talented high school athletes who fall short of the university’s standard academic requirements for admission. Coaches are often allowed to use a few of these “exemptions” for athletes they recruit.

Some of the federally indicted wealthy parents created fake athlete credentials and “bought” exemption slots.  Their kids bumped legitimate student-athletes who then lost the opportunity to be admitted.

There are many stories of legitimate student-athletes who were initially admitted through an exemption slot and then went on to excel in the classroom.  I’ve seen first-hand and talked to many of these former student-athletes whose lives were changed because of academic support systems that are available to student-athletes.

The missed opportunities is what has caused such outrage among families and those of us in the industry who do things ethically.

My Advice to Parents of High School Athletes

When high school athletes excel academically, they are at an advantage and stand a much better chance of satisfying the standard admission requirements. A strong academic athlete doesn’t have to worry as much about exemption slots and being bumped out of an admission opportunity.

So my advice to parents is that their high school athletes should focus on their academics as much or more than they do on their sport!

What Happens Next

Going forward, I believe we all should assume that ACT and SAT administrators are going to be looking much more closely at “unusual” circumstances such as those reported in this scandal.

If your athlete takes the ACT or SAT test at a location far from their home, there will be more scrutiny. In those cases, students will need to explain why and perhaps show “proof” of that reason.

As potential fall-out continues, I’ll be posting updates both on our website and through our weekly eblast.  If you have questions or concerns, give us a call at 913-766-1235 or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

Student-athletes in all sports at NCAA Division II colleges and universities will get a few days to step away from their sport and enjoy time with family and friends due to the week-long Division II “Winter Break” which starts next week

During the period from December 20-26, Division II coaches are not permitted to require that their student-athletes participate in any countable athletically-related activities (games, practices, conditioning workouts, team meetings, etc.).

Furthermore, student-athletes who may be staying on campus during this period of Dec. 20-26 (such as international student-athletes) or those who live near their campus are not allowed to participate in any voluntary athletic activities in a campus facility unless that facility is open to the general student population during this period.

For questions about NCAA rules, contact us at rick@informedathlete.com or by calling 913-766-1235 to schedule a confidential phone consultation.

As part of Informed Athlete’s commitment to providing accurate information to our clients and newsletter subscribers, we attend the annual NCAA Regional Rules Seminar every year.
I’ll be attending the seminar from June 4-6, 2018 where I’ll have the opportunity to discuss important topics related to transfers, waivers & appeals, eligibility, scholarships, and recruiting rules with NCAA staff members and many of my friends in the compliance business.  I am especially interesting in hearing progress updates from the NCAA Transfer Rules Working Group!
If you’d like to see a list of topics to be discussed, click here:  http://www.ncaa.org/about/resources/events/regional-rules-seminars.
Watch for Informed Athlete’s weekly newsletter where I’ll include updates on key items from the sessions.
My available time for consultation calls will be limited while I’m attending the seminar, but I’ll be checking phone and email messages and will respond when I can.  You can leave a message at 913-766-1235 or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com.