Ocean State University softball team is participating in an away from home competition this Saturday. There are not many options for entertainment in the location of the competition, so the coaches would like to surprise the team with a trip to a museum after the game. The museum will provide a cultural experience for the student-athletes but is 150 miles away. As part of this trip, the student-athletes will receive transportation to the museum, meals and one night of lodging.
Is it permissible for the coaches to provide these expenses for the student-athletes to go to the museum?
No. NCAA Bylaw 16.7.1 states that the institution may pay the actual costs (but may not provide cash) for reasonable entertainment that takes place within a 100-mile radius of where a team plays or practices in connection with an away-from-home contest or en route to or from such a contest. In addition, an institution may pay the actual costs (but may not provide cash) for reasonable entertainment that takes place within a 30-mile radius of the institution’s campus or practice site during vacation periods when the team is required to reside on campus (or at a practice site normally used by the institution) and classes are not in session.
This is an actual fact pattern of a secondary rules violation posted on LSDBi. The student-athletes were required to repay the expenses to a charity of their choice and their eligibility had to be reinstated. The rationale did indicate that the NCAA staff provided relief from withholding due to the culpability of the coaching staff in providing the surprise trip.