Headline Sports Law

Become A Professional And Retain Student-Athlete Eligibility

A few days ago, I received an email from 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.  He wanted to share the announcement of NCAA Division I Proposal 2009-22.  The expectation is that the proposal will pass and go into effect on August 1, 2010.  Tassos calls the move a brilliant, inspired, an outstanding shift in policy, and a clear indication that knowledgeable members of governance bodies are indeed in touch with reality and in tune with the membership’s concerns.

But what exactly is the proposal?  It is posted in its entirety at the link above, and titled, AMATEURISM AND ELIGIBILITY — INVOLVEMENT WITH PROFESSIONAL TEAMS — EXCEPTION — PRIOR TO INITIAL FULL-TIME COLLEGIATE ENROLLMENT — DELAYED ENROLLMENT — SEASONS OF COMPETITION.  If adopted, it 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.  The caveat is that the athlete cannot receive more than the allowable actual and necessary expenses under 12.02.4 (a).

Actual and necessary expenses include,

  • Meals and lodging directly tied to competition or practice held in preparation for competition.
  • Apparel, equipment and supplies.
  • Coaching and instruction.
  • Health/medical insurance.
  • Transportation related to practice or competition.
  • Medical treatment and physical therapy.
  • Facility usage.
  • Entry fees.
  • Other reasonable expenses.

“Other reasonable expenses” seems quite broad, although things like out-of-season expenses (i.e. pre-training camp) are not considered actual & necessary expenses under this legislation.  And how would someone like Brandon Jennings justify that his on-the-books payment was an actual and necessary expense?  I doubt he could, and Jennings would not be the type of athlete able to become a student-athlete after playing a year overseas.

Definitely an interesting proposal.  I am very interested to see if any changes are made to it between now and its suggested adoption.

By Darren Heitner

Darren Heitner created Sports Agent Blog as a New Year's Resolution on December 31, 2005. Originally titled, "I Want To Be A Sports Agent," the website was founded with the intention of causing Heitner to learn more about the profession that he wanted to join, meet reputable individuals in the space and force himself to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

Heitner now runs Heitner Legal, P.L.L.C., which is a law firm with many practice areas, including sports law and contract law. Heitner has represented numerous athletes and sports agents as legal counsel. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Bloomington from 2011-2014, where he created and taught a course titled, Sport Agency Management, which included subjects ranging from NCAA regulations to athlete agent certification and the rules governing the profession. Heitner serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he teaches a Sports Law class that includes case law surrounding athlete agents and the NCAA rules.

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