What is Amateurism?

“NCAA institutions’ athletics programs are designed to be an integral part of the educational program. The student-athlete is considered an integral part of the student body, thus maintaining a clear line of demarcation between college athletics and professional sports.”—NCAA Division I Manual

 

The NCAA requires all student-athletes to remain amateurs in their sports, so as not to cross the line into professional athletics. Many activities can place a prospective/current student-athlete’s amateurism in jeopardy. Below are several rules covering these types of situations.

Current Student-Athletes

Competition with Professionals: An individual shall not be eligible for intercollegiate athletics if the individual ever competed on a professional team.

Draft: An individual loses amateur status in a particular sport when the individual asks to be placed on the draft list or supplemental draft list of a professional league in that sport, even though

  1. The individual asks that his or her name be withdrawn from the draft list prior to the actual draft;
  2. The individual's name remains on the list but he or she is not drafted; or
  3. The individual is drafted but does not sign an agreement with any professional athletics team.

However, an enrolled student-athlete in the sport of basketball may enter a professional league's draft one time during his or her collegiate career without jeopardizing eligibility in that sport, provided the student-athlete is not drafted by any team in that league and the student-athlete declares his or her intention to resume intercollegiate participation within 30 days after the draft. The student-athlete's declaration of intent shall be in writing to the institution's director of athletics.

Agent: A student-athlete may not agree verbally or in writing to be represented by an agent in the present or in the future for the purpose of marketing the student-athlete's athletics ability or reputation. If the student-athlete enters into such an agreement, the student-athlete is ineligible for intercollegiate competition.  The term "agent" includes actual agents, runners (individuals who befriend student-athletes and frequently distribute impermissible benefits), attorneys, and financial advisors.

Also, a student-athlete may not accept transportation or other benefits from an agent. This prohibition applies to the student-athlete and his or her relatives or friends.

It is not a violation of NCAA rules if a student-athlete merely talks to an agent (as long as an agreement for representation is not reached) or socializes with an agent. For example, a student-athlete could go to dinner with an agent and no NCAA violations would result if the student-athlete provided his/her own transportation and paid for his/her meal.

Contract: An individual is not permitted to sign a contract with a professional team.

Prize Money Based on Place Finish: An individual may never accept cash as an award for participation in competition at any time. However, (in individual sports) outside the playing season during the summer vacation period, a student-athlete may accept prize money based on place finish. Such prize money may not exceed actual and necessary expenses and may only be provided by the sponsor of the event.

Employment Fee-for-Lesson Compensation: A student-athlete is permitted to accept fee-for-lesson compensation, provided specified conditions are met:

  1. Student-athlete cannot use institutional facilities;
  2. Student-athlete cannot just go out and play for the lesson;
  3. Institution has to have documentation of the individual receiving the lesson and the fee charged;
  4. Fee charged has to be the going rate; and
  5. Compensation has to be paid by the individual receiving the lesson (or that individual's family).

Salary: An individual is not permitted to accept any direct or indirect salary, gratuity or comparable compensation.

Prospective Student-Athletes

Competition with Professionals: Prior to enrolling in college full-time, an individual may compete on a professional team provided he or she does not receive more than actual and necessary expenses to participate on the team.

Definition of a professional team: A professional team is an organized team that provides any of its players more than actual and necessary expenses, as specified, or declares itself to be professional. Actual and necessary expenses include

  1. Meals directly tied to competition and practice held in preparation for such competition;
  2. Lodging directly tied to competition and practice held in preparation for such competition;
  3. Apparel, equipment and supplies;
  4. Coaching and instruction;
  5. Health/medical insurance;
  6. Transportation (i.e., expenses to and from practice and competition, cost of transportation from home to training/practice site at the beginning of the season and from training/practice site to home at the end of season);
  7. Medical treatment and physical therapy;
  8. Facility usage; and
  9. Entry fees

Draft: An individual, prior to initial, full-time collegiate enrollment is permitted to enter a professional league's draft and/or be drafted without jeopardizing intercollegiate eligibility.

Agent/Advisor: A student-athlete or prospective student-athlete (any individual who currently participates in or who may be eligible in the future to participate in intercollegiate athletics) may not agree verbally or in writing to be represented by an agent in the present or in the future for the purpose of marketing the student-athlete's athletics ability or reputation. If the student-athlete enters into such an agreement, the student-athlete is ineligible for intercollegiate competition. The term "agent" includes actual agents, runners (individuals who befriend student-athletes and frequently distribute impermissible benefits), attorneys, and financial advisors.

Also, a student-athlete may not accept transportation or other benefits from an agent. This prohibition applies to the student-athlete and his or her relatives or friends.

It is not a violation of NCAA rules if a student-athlete merely talks to an agent (as long as an agreement for representation is not reached) or socializes with an agent. For example, a student-athlete could go to dinner with an agent and no NCAA violations would result if the student-athlete provided his/her own transportation and paid for his/her meal.

Contract: An individual is not permitted to sign a contract with a professional team.

Prize Money Based on Place Finish: An individual, prior to initial, full-time collegiate enrollment, is permitted to accept prize money based on place finish in an open athletics event, not to exceed actual and necessary expenses, from the sponsor of the event. The calculation of actual and necessary expenses shall not include the expenses of fees of anyone other than the prospective student-athlete (e.g., coach's fees or expenses, parents, expenses).

Educational Expenses: An individual, prior to initial, full-time collegiate enrollment, is permitted to accept educational expenses (i.e., tuition and fees, room and board and books) from any individual or entity other than an agent, professional sports team/organization or representative of an institution's athletics interests, provided such expenses are disbursed directly through the recipients' educational institution (e.g., preparatory school, high school).

Salary: An individual is not permitted to accept any direct or indirect salary, gratuity or comparable compensation.