The women’s coaches at Ocean State University are placing orders for the student-athletes’ participation gifts. Traditionally, the coaches have provided a jacket after a student-athlete’s first year; blanket after the second; watch after the third and a ring to the seniors. Some of the seniors asked for a charm instead of a ring. Is it permissible to provide some senior student-athletes with a ring and some with a charm as long as the cost of each award does not exceed NCAA maximum limitations?
No. NCAA Bylaw 16.1.2 states that awards presented by a member institution, conference or other approved agency must be uniform for all team members receiving the award. NCAA Staff Interpretation- 12/13/91- Uniformity of awards to student-athletes- states that a permissible awarding agency (e.g., member institution, management of event) may provide to student-athletes more than one type of an award (e.g., rings to seniors, watches to underclassmen), provided the award given is uniform within a category (e.g., all watches must be the same).
Providing different awards within a category (e.g., seniors) would require the approval of an SLR waiver. There is case precedent similar to the fact pattern of this email.
This legislation is the same for Divisions I and II.