M.T. Backfield is a prospective student-athlete interested in playing football at Ocean State University (OSU) next year. M.T. is visiting OSU’s campus today for an official visit. Since it is Halloween, the OSU coaches decorated M.T.’s hotel room by spelling out his name in candy on the bed.
Is this permissible?
No. NCAA Bylaw 18.104.22.168 states that an institution may not arrange miscellaneous, personalized recruiting aids (e.g., personalized jerseys, personalized audio/video scoreboard presentations) and may not permit a prospective student-athlete to engage in any game-day simulations (e.g., running onto the field with the team during pregame introductions) during an official visit. Personalized recruiting aids include any decorative items and special additions to any location the prospective student-athlete will visit (e.g., hotel room, locker room, coach’s office, conference room, arena) regardless of whether the items include the prospective student-athlete’s name or picture.
This fact pattern is an actual secondary violation posted on LSDBi. The violation was discovered after another institution saw that the prospect had posted a photo of the candy on his Facebook page. The institution was penalized recruiting opportunities during the current academic year. In addition, the student-athlete was deemed ineligible for intercollegiate competition at the institution until his eligibility was restored by the NCAA student-athlete reinstatement staff. This is a Division I case.