High Screen is a basketball student-athlete at Ocean State University. High is a junior this year but has declared himself eligible for the NBA and has retained an agent. High is projected to be drafted early in the second round, so his agent is organizing a draft day party. High is going to invite his former and current teammates to the party.
Can High’s teammates that still have eligibility remaining attend the party and receive free food and entertainment from High’s agent?
No. NCAA Educational Column- 3/29/12- Issues Related to Benefits from Former Teammates and Agents in Conjunction with Professional Drafts (I)- states that NCAA institutions should note that, each year, parties or other events occur across the country in conjunction with the annual drafts for professional sports leagues. These parties and other events are hosted and/or attended by agents, third parties, professional athletes, and draft prospects. A current student-athlete’s attendance at such parties or events may result in violations of NCAA legislation if the student-athlete does not pay for the benefits or services he or she receives.
Travel expenses, lodging, meals and other expenses (e.g., entertainment) provided to a current student-athlete at no charge and financed by individuals meeting the definition of an agent per NCAA Bylaw 12.02.1 (agent) would result in a violation of the benefits from prospective agents legislation. The NCAA enforcement staff is aware of previous draft day parties and events where draft prospects invited friends and former teammates, some of whom were then-current student-athletes, to attend such events. Unbeknownst to the student-athlete, the expenses received (e.g., entertainment, lodging, meals) were financed by individuals meeting the definition of an agent per Bylaw 12.02.1 (agent). Receipt of such expenses constitutes an impermissible benefit from an agent and jeopardizes the student-athlete’s NCAA eligibility.
Even if all of the benefits received by a student-athlete associated with attendance at a draft day party or other events came directly from a friend and former teammate, there may still be a violation involving impermissible preferential treatment. The issue of a current student-athlete receiving benefits from a former student-athlete was reviewed by the former NCAA Division I Academics/Eligibility/Compliance Cabinet Subcommittee on Legislative Review/Interpretations in 2001. At that time, the subcommittee advised the staff 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. This analysis continues to be used when determining whether a student-athlete received impermissible benefits from a former teammate.
[References: NCAA Division I Bylaws 12.02.1 (agent), 12.3.1 (general rule), 126.96.36.199 (benefits from prospective agents) and 188.8.131.52.6 (preferential treatment, benefits or services)]