With the NFL draft fast approaching, future professional football players are beginning to organize parties and/or other events to commemorate their accomplishment. Oftentimes, former teammates of future professional football players—those with remaining collegiate eligibility—are invited to attend an event. While there is no NCAA legislation preventing a current student-athlete from attending an event held by a former teammate, it is important for current student-athletes to understand that rules-violations may occur if they do not pay for the benefits or services they may receive.
The most common scenario resulting in NCAA rules-violations is when a current student-athlete attends an event at the invitation of a former teammate without knowledge that the event is being financed by a sports agent, marketer or financial advisor. For example, travel expenses, lodging, meals, entertainment and other expenses provided to a current student-athlete at no charge and financed by an individual such as a sports agent, marketer or financial advisor would result in a violation of NCAA Bylaw 126.96.36.199 and could jeopardize a current student-athlete’s eligibility.
This Bylaw states a student-athlete shall be ineligible if he or she (or his or her relatives or friends) "accepts transportation or other benefits from (a) any person who represents any individual in the marketing of his or her athletics ability. The receipt of such expenses constitutes compensation based on athletics skill and is an extra benefit not available to the student body in general; or (b) an agent, even if the agent has indicated that he or she has no interest in representing the student-athlete in the marketing of his or her athletics ability or reputation and does not represent individuals in the student-athlete's sport.”
A student-athlete may also violate NCAA legislation even if the financing of the event comes from his or her former teammate under preferential treatment legislation. NCAA Bylaw 188.8.131.52.6 prohibits “preferential treatment, benefits or services because of the individual's athletics reputation or skill or pay-back potential as a professional athlete, unless such treatment, benefits or services are specifically permitted under NCAA legislation." According to a recent NCAA educational column, the NCAA Division I Academics/Eligibility/Compliance Cabinet Subcommittee on Legislative Review/Interpretations held that “the standard for reviewing cases involving benefits provided to a current student-athlete from a former teammate should be whether the type of benefit provided is consistent with what was provided when the donor and recipient of the benefit were college teammates.”
For further information, current student-athletes should contact the athletics compliance office at the institution they attend.