Daily Compliance Item- 10.29.15- 17.3.3.1, 17.3.5.3- Informal Basketball Practice Scrimmages

Ocean State University men’s basketball team will be hosting a few prospects on official visits during the same weekend as their closed practice scrimmage against another institution. NCAA rules require such practice scrimmages be conducted in complete privacy.

Is it permissible for the prospects on campus for official visits to attend the closed practice scrimmage?

Yes. NCAA Educational Column- 11/4/14- Viewing Skill-Related Instruction Sessions and Informal Basketball Practice Scrimmages (I) – notes that in accordance with NCAA legislation regarding skill instruction and practice scrimmages, an institution may not publicize skill-related instruction that occurs outside the playing season and informal practice scrimmages in basketball. Also, an institution may not conduct skill-related instruction sessions in view of a general public audience. Informal practice scrimmages in basketball must be held in complete privacy.

The following questions and answers are designed to assist member institutions in applying the legislation regarding the viewing of skill-related instruction that is permissible outside the playing season in all sports other than football and informal practice scrimmages in basketball:

Question No. 1: May prospective student-athletes view skill-related instruction while on official or unofficial visits?

Answer: Yes. It is permissible for prospective student-athletes to view skill-related instruction during official or unofficial visits, provided the skill-instruction has not been publicized and is not held in view of a general public audience.

Question No. 2: May individuals accompanying prospective student-athletes on official or unofficial visits (e.g., parent, sibling, coach) view skill-related instruction?

Answer: Yes. It is permissible for individuals accompanying prospective student-athletes on official or unofficial visits to view skill-related instruction, provided the skill instruction has not been publicized and is not held in view of a general public audience.

Question No. 3: May an institution invite individuals (e.g., boosters, high school coaches) to watch a team’s skill-related instruction or in basketball, an informal practice scrimmage?

Answer: No, if an institution were to invite an individual or individuals to a skill-related instruction session or an informal practice scrimmage it would be considered publicizing the activity, which is prohibited by the legislation.

Question No. 4: May a member of the general public walk into a facility and watch skill-related instruction?

Answer: Yes. A member of the general public could walk into a facility where a team is involved in skill-related instruction on his or her own without the instruction being considered in view of a general public audience. However, an institution could not arrange to conduct skill-related instruction in a facility or at a time in which the institution had reason to believe that the skill instruction session would be conducted in view of a general public audience. For example, it would not be permissible for an institution to conduct skill instruction for its basketball team on the football field immediately following a home football game. This situation would constitute conducting skill-related instruction in view of a general public audience.

Question No. 5: May prospective student-athletes in basketball view an informal practice scrimmage while on official or unofficial visits?

Answer: Yes. Basketball prospective student-athletes (and those individuals accompanying the prospective student-athlete) are permitted to view informal practice scrimmages while on an official or unofficial visit.

Question No. 6: What is the difference between the standards of “conducted in privacy” and “conducted in view of a general public audience”?

Answer: Informal practice scrimmages in basketball must be conducted in privacy. To satisfy this standard, an institution must ensure that no one from the general public can view the scrimmages. The facility where the scrimmage is occurring must be closed to the general public and the department of athletics must keep anyone from the general public from entering the gym. Further, the legislation specifically requires an institution to ensure that no one other than department of athletics staff members and those individuals necessary to conduct the practice scrimmage are present.

In contrast, the legislation regulating skill-related instruction specifies that skill related instruction sessions shall not be conducted in view of a general public audience. The intent of the legislation is to prohibit institutions from creating special activities or events in conjunction with skill-instruction sessions as a way of creating the appearance of full-fledged practice outside of the playing season or creating a celebrity atmosphere during prospective student-athletes’ campus visits.

The legislation does not require complete privacy during skill-related instruction; however, it requires that institutions do not schedule or conduct the sessions in a way in which they become spectator events.

[References: NCAA Bylaws 17.1.7.2.2 (skill instruction — sports other than baseball and football), 17.1.7.2.3 (skill instruction — baseball), 17.3.3.1-(a) (practice scrimmage), 17.3.5.3-(h) (practice scrimmage), and staff interpretation (3/15/2013)]

Jennifer M. Condaras
Associate Commissioner
BIG EAST Conference

The opinions expressed in the Daily Compliance Item are the author’s and the author’s alone, and are not endorsed by The BIG EAST Conference, JumpForward, or the Collegiate Sports Group of Bond, Schoeneck, and King. The Daily Compliance Item is not a substitute for a compliance office, case specific research, or the NCAA Bylaws. Do some homework, ask around, and get it right.

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