Inside Compliance: Outside Competition

On the second Wednesday of every 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 Monday: Ticketing

The NCAA defines outside competition as “any athletics competition against any other athletics team that does not represent the intercollegiate athletics program of the same institution.”  The general rule is that a student-athlete who competes (as opposed to practices) as a member of an outside team in a non-collegiate competition during the academic year will be ineligible for any intercollegiate competition.

There are four listed exceptions to this rule for non-basketball sports.  The first exception allows student-athletes to compete on an outside team as long as the competition occurs outside of the institution’s declared playing and practice season.  In other words, the competition must take place during an official vacation period for the sport.  Second, a student-athlete may participate in outside competition, even during the academic year, if the student-athlete represents only himself or herself and does not engage in the competition as a member of an outside team.  Third, student-athletes may participate in international competitions on a foreign tour, but the number of teammates allowed from one school on a team of this type is limited depending on the sport.  Lastly, a student who participates in pre-season tryouts but does not make the team is not subjected to the outside competition limitations and can participate freely in any competition.

For basketball, the NCAA greatly broadened the scope of what is considered an outside competition to include games with fewer than five players if certain factors are met.  For example, any of the following conditions accompanying a competition could potentially render the contest as impermissible and, therefore, jeopardize the eligibility of any participating student-athletes: wearing team uniforms, keeping official score and time, using officials, charging admission, scheduling/publicizing the contest in advance, using predetermined team rosters, or utilizing corporate sponsorships/promotions.  It is important to note that, as far as the NCAA is concerned, the presence of even one of these factors is sufficient to turn a friendly game into an outside competition.  The prohibition against organized outside basketball competitions applies to any student-athlete who has reported for the squad, or who was recruited for basketball and then subsequently enrolled in the institution.  The prohibition remains applicable until the student-athlete’s intercollegiate basketball eligibility has been exhausted.

However, basketball student-athletes are permitted to participate in certified Summer Basketball Leagues under certain conditions.  Some requirements for a summer league to be certified include that no player can be paid to play, no all-star game is permitted, no admission may be charged, and any postseason competitions must end before August 31st (or the first day of classes, whichever comes earlier).  Additionally, teams in certified leagues are limited to a maximum of two players with remaining eligibility from any single Division I institution.  Further, a Division I student-athlete can only be a member of one team, within one league.  The league the student-athlete joins must play within 100 miles of the institution they attend or their official residence.  If a student-athlete is in the process of transferring, and has officially withdrawn from the original school and enrolled in the second, the student does not count as a member of either institution on the summer league’s roster.

Beyond the previously listed exceptions, the NCAA has outlined four specific instances in which outside competition is permitted for all sports (including basketball).  First, student-athletes may participate in one high school alumni game per year as long as it takes place during an official vacation period.  Second, student-athletes are allowed to tryout and compete for officially recognized U.S. national teams, or the foreign equivalent for international students.  The national team must be designated by the U.S. Olympic committee or national governing body as such (or the equivalent organization for another nation).  Selection for the team must be conducted on a national qualification basis and the international competition in question must require entries to officially represent their respective nations.  Additionally, basketball student-athletes are permitted to play in the U.S. against the U.S. National Team.  Thirdly, participation in the Olympic Games (including tryouts that directly qualify competitors for the Olympics) and participation in any official Pan American games or tryouts is permitted.  Lastly, basketball players are allowed to participate in a draft combine sponsored by a professional sports team during any part of the calendar year, provided they receive written permission from the Director of Athletics of their institution.

–William Winter

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