Oct
26

In-Depth Discussion About NCAA Proposal No. 2009-22

On August 25, I took a peek at a new NCAA proposal, first introduced to me by Anastasios “Tassos” Kaburakis, Ph.D., Attorney at Law and Assistant Professor of Sport Law and Sport Management/Director of Sport Management Graduate Program at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.  The proposal, with an anticipated adoption date of August 1, 2010, would allow prospective student-athletes to play a professional sport overseas upon graduating high school, and still retain the opportunity to play that sport for an NCAA institution later in life, as long as the athletes do not receive more than the allowable actual and necessary expenses under NCAA Rule 12.02.4 (a).

Recently, this proposal has been picked up by various major media outlets.  Tom Farrey’s piece on ESPN.com, sparked a lot of interest across the World Wide Web.  His story talks about a distinction within the same proposal I talked about in August, that would allow athletes who do not earn a professional salary, but play alongside other athletes that do, to retain their amateur eligibility (which apparently they forgo under the current NCAA Amateurism rules).  It definitely does not make sense that one athlete on a team could jeopardize the amateur eligibility of all of his teammates.

Here is a telling fact from the ESPN.com article,

Of the 490 incoming athletes penalized for amateurism violations last year, 434 were foreign students, according to the NCAA.

The NCAA Amateurism Cabinet held a meeting regarding this proposal on September 24.  For the full report from that meeting, click here.  The result regarding NCAA Proposal No. 2009-22: Men’s Ice Hockey will be excluded.  Here is the relevant justification section of that report:

The ice hockey community strongly believes that many more prospective student-athletes seeking to participate in NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey would elect to participate in Major Junior A hockey prior to initial collegiate enrollment. As a result, although the proposal would permit such activity, their eligibility status would likely be jeopardized once they became involved in the Major Junior A leagues (e.g., by being influenced to accept more than actual and necessary expenses, signing with an agent, or by signing a professional contract). The ice hockey community expressed concern that the Canadian Hockey League, the governing body for Major Junior A ice hockey, would intentionally attempt to jeopardize prospective student-athletes’ NCAA eligibility in order to retain their services and continued participation in their league. Further, the ice hockey community asserted that participation in Major Junior A hockey would be detrimental to prospective student-athletes’ academic success given the demands of participation in that league. Lastly, USA Hockey commented that the proposal would adversely impact future U.S. performance in international competition, including the Olympic Winter Games.

So ice hockey is out, but the rest of the NCAA sports are still attached to the proposed NCAA legislation.

Last, I want to touch on an interesting question that was brought to my attention by Minor Leaguer and prolific blogger, Garrett Broshuis.  Broshuis received an email from another MiLB player who noted,

The salaries that some guys make in short season or extended spring training aren’t even considered large enough for the NCAA to qualify it as a professional salary.

And Broshuis ends his piece by asking,

If a player receives a tiny signing bonus and never makes it out of short-season professional baseball, could he then maintain amateur status? This thought is as absurd as the current salary structure.

This is definitely out of the question if said player hires an agent.  Once an agency contract is signed by the player, he automatically loses his amateur eligibility, and once it is lost, it can never be returned.  But what if the player never hires an agent?  What are your thoughts?

  • http://www.k-tlaw.com Jason Wolf

    Like almost every “improvement” proposed by the NCAA, this has to be scrutinized with a grain of salt. The next time the NCAA gets the professional-amateur distinction right will be the first.

    With that said, this proposal makes sense in theory, provided they adjust it accordingly for the issues such as the negligible salaries in MiLB.

  • http://www.keglawyers.com/blog Joe

    I’m all for athletes being able to go back to school, but I don’t think is actually going to encourage that. What 20 year-old athlete is going to want to go back to school (and not get paid), when they could be making a living playing their sport?

  • http://www.vwattorneys.com San Fernando Criminal Attorney

    Very interesting article and thank you for sharing!

    I find it quite interesting that “Of the 490 incoming athletes penalized for amateurism violations last year, 434 were foreign students, according to the NCAA.” It’s clear that there’s some lack of communication somewhere.