Several baseball student-athletes that are enrolled in summer school at Ocean State University have been participating in voluntary workouts in the weight room. The strength coaches have been present for safety purposes. To help motivate the student-athletes to work hard, the strength coaches would like to create awards for attendance and meeting specific goals.
Is this permissible?
No. NCAA Bylaw 17.02.18 state that in order for any athletically related activity to be considered “voluntary,” all of the following conditions must be met: (Adopted: 4/18/01, 4/29/04 effective 8/1/04)
(a) The student-athlete must not be required to report back to a coach or other athletics department staff member (e.g., strength coach, trainer, manager) any information related to the activity. In addition, no athletics department staff member who observes the activity (e.g., trainer, manager) may report back to the student-athlete’s coach any information related to the activity;
(b) The activity must be initiated and requested solely by the student-athlete. Neither the institution nor any athletics department staff member may require the student-athlete to participate in the activity at any time. However, it is permissible for an athletics department staff member to provide information to student-athletes related to available opportunities for participating in voluntary activities (e.g., times when the strength and conditioning coach will be on duty in the weight room or on the track). In addition, for students who have initiated a request to engage in voluntary activities, the institution or an athletics department staff member may assign specific times for student-athletes to use institutional facilities for such purposes and inform the student-athletes of the time in advance;
(c) The student-athlete’s attendance and participation in the activity (or lack thereof) may not be recorded for the purposes of reporting such information to coaching staff members or other student-athletes; and
(d) The student-athlete may not be subjected to penalty if he or she elects not to participate in the activity. In addition, neither the institution nor any athletics department staff member may provide recognition or incentives (e.g., awards) to a student-athlete based on his or her attendance or performance in the activity.
[Note: Coaching staff members may be present during permissible skill-related instruction pursuant to Bylaws 126.96.36.199.2 and 188.8.131.52.3]