The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference
The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference


1901 days ago
Photo: SEC Staff

Every supporter of an institution's athletics program has an obligation to abide by the same regulations, bylaws and guidelines as the coaches, administrators and staff members throughout the athletic department. To avoid rules violations, you need to be aware of the NCAA bylaws that govern athletics. All infractions are contrary to the Southeastern Conference's commitment to integrity and impede progress toward competing for national championships in each sport the SEC sponsors.

According to the NCAA Bylaws, a person becomes a "representative of athletic interest" (or a "booster") by engaging in any of the following activities:

* Joining the various clubs of institutional athletic interest.

* Making financial contributions to the athletic department, a booster club or an intercollegiate team.

* Arranging for or providing summer employment for enrolled student-athletes.

* Purchasing season tickets in any sport.

* Promoting institutional athletic program in any manner.

* Once you become a "representative of athletic interest," you retain that status forever, even if you no longer contribute to or support the institution.

Contact: A contact is any face-to-face encounter between a prospective student-athlete or the prospect's parent or legal guardian and a university staff member (or supporter) during which any dialogue occurs in excess of an exchange of a greeting. Any such face-to-face encounter that is prearranged or that takes place on the grounds of the prospect's school or at the site of his/her high school, preparatory school, two-year college or all-star team shall be considered a contact, regardless of the conversation (including a greeting) that occurs.

Prospective Student-Athlete: Is a person who has begun classes for the ninth grade. However, it is possible for a younger student-athlete to be a prospect so it is best to treat all student-athletes as prospects.

Recruiting: Is any solicitation of a prospective student-athlete or the prospect's family (or guardian) by a university staff member for the purpose of securing the prospect's enrollment at the university and/or participation in the intercollegiate athletics program.

Permissible Recruiters: All in-person, on- and off-campus recruiting contacts with prospective student-athletes or their relatives or legal guardians shall be made only by authorized university staff members. Such contacts, as well as correspondence and telephone calls by representatives of an institution's athletics interest are prohibited subject to a few limited exceptions.Simply put, all "athletic representatives/supporters" are prohibited from contacting a prospect or members of a prospect's family by telephone, letter or in person on or off campus for the purpose of encouraging participation in the intercollegiate athletics program.

The following questions and answers will help in illustrating these important rules:

Q: Is it permissible for you to discuss the university with a prospect?
A: No. You may not participate in any recruiting activities promoting the university to a prospect.

Q: Is it permissible for you to offer an institutional coach the names of prospects to evaluate?
A: Yes. The NCAA allows you to provide a coach with names of prospects for recruitment.

Q: Is it permissible for a university alumnus to bring their prospect-age son or daughter to an alumni event to hear a university coach speak?
A: Yes. However, you should attempt to avoid any face-to-face contact with the coach because it may be during a time when the coach is not allowed contact with a prospect.

What about extra benefits?

An institution cannot provide an extra benefit to a prospect or enrolled student-athlete. The term "extra benefit" refers to any special arrangement by an institutional employee or representative of athletic interest that is not authorized by NCAA legislation. Activities that are prohibited include, but are not limited to, the following:

* Providing gifts.

* Providing free or reduced-cost services.

* Providing a loan, or arranging or co-signing for a loan.

* Employing relatives or friends of a prospect as an inducement for enrollment of a prospect.

* Providing use of an automobile.

* Providing rent-free or reduced-rent housing.

* Providing tickets to an athletic, institutional or community event.

* Providing use of telephone or credit cards without charge or at a reduced cost.

* Promising to provide any of the above.

* The following questions and answers will help in illustrating these important rules:

Q: Can you provide a student-athlete or prospect with free or discounted service (movie tickets, dinner, laundry, dry cleaning, etc.)?
A: No. What seems to be a thoughtful action can be construed as an extra benefit for an enrolled student-athlete or an unfair recruiting advantage for a prospective student-athlete.

Q: Can you employ a member of a prospect's family?
A: No. Employment of a prospect's relative can be construed as an unfair recruiting advantage.

Q: Can you invite all student-athletes attending a local high school to a holiday party?
A: No. You cannot single out prospective student-athletes as a group to be your guests but you could invite the entire class (e.g., seniors, juniors, etc.) to be guests.

Q: Can you offer a prospect your tickets to football games and your car to drive to the event?
A: No. Offering free or reduced tickets to any event is not allowed, nor may you provide transportation of any sort to a prospect.

Q: Can you contact a student-athlete and ask to buy his/her complimentary admissions passes for an athletic event?
A: No. A student-athlete may not receive payment from any source for his/her complimentary admissions and may not exchange or assign them for any item of value.

Q: Can a student-athlete attend a local charity event?
A: Yes. However, some restrictions apply so please contact the athletic department for the proper procedures before completing your plans.

Q: A student-athlete banquet has just concluded and you see two student-athletes standing in the rain without a ride. Can you offer them a ride to the dormitory?
A: No. You may not provide any transportation to a student-athlete whether it is airfare home or a ride across campus.

Alumni Organizations: Bona fide alumni organizations of an institution may sponsor luncheons or dinners at which prospects (athletes and non-athletes) of that immediate locale are guests. An institution's alumni organizations may be considered a bona fide part of that institution, provided such an organization is accredited by the President/Chancellor and meets these additional terms and conditions:

1. A staff member of the university periodically shall inspect the financial records of the alumni organization and certify that expenditures comply with the rules and regulations of the NCAA and the conference, and

2. A club official shall be designated by the President/Chancellor as the university's official agent in the administration of the club's funds, and said club official shall file regular reports to the university relating the manner in which the club funds have been spent in the recruiting of student-athletes. When an alumni organization is certified by the President/Chancellor as being a bona fide part of the university, said organization becomes subject to all of the limitations placed upon the institution by NCAA legislation. A violation of such legislation by any member of the alumni organization shall be a violation by the institution.

Financial Audit All expenditures for or on behalf of the university's athletics program, including those by any outside organization, agency or group of individuals (two or more), shall be subject to an annual financial audit (in addition to any regular financial audit policies and procedures of the university). This audit is conducted for the university by a qualified auditor who is not a staff member of the university and who is selected either by the President/Chancellor or by an institutional administrator from outside the athletic department designated by the President/Chancellor. The athletic department is responsible for all financial decisions made by any support organization and must ensure that each group complies with NCAA, SEC, university and federal regulations. For example, the various clubs of institutional athletic interest are subject to fiscal integrity and accountability and should be placed in an agency center in order for the athletic department to assist them when deemed necessary. A designated official of the support organization, the athletic controller and a designated athletic department liaison to the support organization shall work together to monitor the financial activities of the organization.

Penalties: As a fan of the Southeastern Conference, chances are you are an athletic representative of one of the 14 SEC-member institutions. Therefore it is important that you understand the NCAA rules and the consequences if any violations occur. Any misunderstanding or disregard for the rules may result in the levying of sanctions against a SEC member-institution's athletics program. The following are examples of possible sanctions:

1. Probation for a period of time.

2. Ineligibility for NCAA championship events.

3. Reprimand and/or censure.

4. Ineligibility for invitational and post season meets and tournaments.

5. Ineligibility for television programs involving live coverage for the sport involved.

6. Ineligibility for the university to vote on NCAA legislation or serve on any association committees.

7. Prohibition against participating in outside competition for a specified period of time for the sports teams involved.

8. Prohibition against recruiting for a specified period of time in the sport involved in the infraction.

9. Reduction in the number of athletic grants-in-aid awarded.

Please be aware that any athletic representative found in violation of NCAA rules may be banned from any association with the athletic department.