Inside Compliance: Outside Aid for Student-Athletes

On the second Wednesday of every month (we moved some things around this month), a member of the Compliance staff  will give a behind-the-scenes look at what’s going on around its area and the department. Over the course of every month, each department will be featured at least once. Coming Tuesday: Communications

NCAA rules allow student-athletes to receive aid from sources other than their NCAA institution under four sets of circumstances.  These circumstances are identified in NCAA Bylaws 15.01.3 and 15.2.6 as being when student-athletes:

1)         Receive aid from one upon whom they are naturally or legally dependent;

2)         Receive awards solely on bases having no relationship to athletics ability;

3)         Receive awards through an established and continuing program to aid students under the conditions listed in Bylaw 15.2.6.3; or

4)         Receive educational expenses that meet the requirements of 15.2.6.4.

These circumstances are described in greater detail below.

1)         NCAA Student Athletes May Receive Aid from One upon whom They  Are Naturally or Legally Dependent.

While it seems obvious that a student-athlete can get money from their parent or anyone else they depend upon, the NCAA has been forced to clear up specific grey areas with respect to this mandate; one such grey area is the prepaid college tuition plan.  Under pre-paid college plans a person will pay a fee to a plan for a certain amount of credit hours at a state university.  The entity to which they pay the money will in turn invest the money until the student reaches college age.  At this point the entity uses the proceeds from its investments to pay the student’s tuition.  While aid from prepaid college plans technically comes from the entity running the plan, the NCAA indicates that money from a pre-paid college plan is aid from a person upon whom the student-athlete is legally or naturally dependent.

2)         NCAA Student-Athletes May Receive Awards Solely on Bases Having No Relationship to Athletic Ability.

The NCAA considers various factors when determining whether NCAA student-athletes receive awards solely on bases having no relationship to athletic ability.  These factors include the percentage of those who receive a particular type of aid who also are student-athletes, the knowledge of the entity giving the aid that the persons they were giving aid to were student-athletes, and whether it is likely the student-athlete’s understanding that the aid is conditioned upon them participating in a sport.  An example of these factors in action is found in MacMurray College’s May 2005 Public Infraction Report.  In this case a tennis coach asked his father to set up a scholarship fund for international students.  The coach then used the scholarship fund to give aid to students from Argentina and Kenya who also played tennis at his university and who he was aware were tennis players prior to them receiving aid.  The players understood a condition of the aid to be that they play tennis at the coach’s university and all of the people who received the aid played tennis at the coach’s university.  The NCAA ruled that this scholarship was not aid based solely on factors other than athletic ability since the coach knew that all of the scholarship recipients were tennis players prior to them receiving aid, all of the persons who received the aid were tennis players, and it was the players understanding that the scholarship was conditioned upon them being tennis players.

3)         NCAA Student-Athletes May Receive Aid through an Established and  Continuing Program Under the Conditions Listed in Bylaw 15.2.6.3.

The NCAA allows student-athletes to receive aid from an established and continuing program when certain conditions are met.  These conditions are that the recipient’s choice of institutions is not restricted by the donor of the aid; there is no direct connection between the donor and the student-athlete’s institution; and the financial aid is not provided by an outside sports team or organization that conducts a competitive sports program to an individual who is or has been a member of that team or organization.  Permitted outside grants falling under this bylaw include grants from organizations like Elks Lodges, churches, etc.

4)         NCAA Student-Athletes May Receive Aid Educational Expenses from the U.S. Olympic Committee or U.S. National Governing Body Under Certain Circumstances.

The NCAA allows student-athletes to receive aid from the U.S. Olympic Committee or National Governing Body under certain circumstances.  These circumstances are that the disbursement of the aid shall be through the member institution for the recipient’s educational expenses while attending that institution; the recipient’s choice of institutions shall not be restricted by the U.S. Olympic Committee or a U.S. national governing body; the value of the award alone or in combination with other aid shall not exceed the value of a full grant-in-aid; and the recipient shall be considered a counter, and the amount shall be applied to the maximum team limitation for the sport in question.

As evidenced above, there is ample opportunity for student-athletes to receive aid outside of their athletic scholarships.  So long as they comply with the above mentioned rules receiving this aid will not impact their eligibility.

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