In a recent post, we talked about impermissible benefits and gave examples of what the NCAA defines as impermissible benefits. https://informedathlete.com/how-impermissible-benefits-hurt-student-athletes/.

In this post, I share two recent high profile NCAA infractions cases in which overzealous boosters provided substantial impermissible benefits to athletes and recruits.

I also provide info on what athletes should look for or be aware of in order to avoid a situation that could damage or permanently terminate their eligibility.

If a student-athlete is ruled ineligible because of receiving impermissible benefits, reinstatement can only be restored by the NCAA. This is often a lengthy drawn-out process.

Georgia Tech Basketball Program

Two weeks ago, the NCAA Committee on Infractions announced penalties imposed on Georgia Tech’s men’s basketball program as the result of boosters providing impermissible benefits to a recruit and also to current members (at that time) of the basketball team.

In one situation, a former Georgia Tech player and a member of the Atlanta Hawks NBA team provided a visiting recruit with a trip to a strip club (including $300 cash), a meal at a club owned by another NBA player, and a visit to his own personal residence.

In the other situation, a person who had become “friends” with the Georgia Tech head coach provided two current players and a recruit with shoes, clothes, meals, and plane tickets valued at a total of over $2400.

The Georgia Tech program was penalized with four years of probation, the loss of one scholarship for each of the next four years, and no opportunity to appear in the NCAA or NIT post-season tournaments this season.

Brigham Young University Basketball Program

The Georgia Tech case reminded me of another announced last November involving the men’s basketball program at Brigham Young University. In the BYU situation, four boosters provided a total of more than $12,000 in impermissible benefits to one basketball student-athlete.

The Brigham Young men’s basketball program was placed on two years of probation and forced to forfeit one men’s basketball scholarship.

In both Georgia Tech and BYU, these rules violations occurred largely because the men’s basketball program allowed boosters the opportunity to have access to, and close interaction with, members of the team and recruits who were visiting campus.

Interestingly, the penalties imposed by the NCAA Committee on Infractions are more severe in the Georgia Tech case than they were in the Brigham Young case, even though the dollar value of the impermissible benefits was much greater in the BYU case.

What can athletes and parents take away from these examples?

  • If coaches and athletic departments are allowing boosters to have close contact with current players or recruits, such as having boosters travel with the team or providing access to the team locker room, athletes need to have their “radar” up to discern the possible intentions of that booster.
  • An athlete may think that it’s “not a big deal” to accept even a small benefit from a booster, such as an inexpensive meal or accepting a ride from a booster. If that booster also is a gambler, they now have their “hooks” in the athlete and may eventually pressure them to shave points or throw a game.
  • Even if the booster doesn’t have ulterior motives and simply made an honest mistake by providing a relatively minor impermissible benefit to an athlete, any teammate, roommate, girlfriend, etc. who knows about that violation could report that athlete to their coach or athletic department if their relationship goes sour. The athlete could lose their eligibility to compete, and their team may be required to forfeit any game in which that athlete competes after accepting the impermissible benefit.

Do you have questions?

If you or your athlete have questions about eligibility issues or what constitutes an impermissible benefit, schedule a confidential eligibility issues consult online, contact us at 913-766-1235 or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com.