The recent allegations involving loans and gifts to former University of Michigan student-athletes has brought increased scrutiny to what actually renders an individual a booster. NCAA Bylaw 13.02.11 defines a booster as any individual who is a member of the institution’s athletics booster club, has ever made any donations to the club or athletic department, is involved in any manner of recruiting prospects or in providing benefits (summer jobs) to enrolled student-athletes, or is otherwise involved in promoting the institution’s athletic’s program. The following is a brief overview intended to increase your knowledge of NCAA rules and regulations in this area.
Q. Once an individual has been identified as a booster, how long does he or she retain that status?
A. Forever. A person retains his or her booster status for the rest of his or her life. Even if a person makes only one donation to our athletics department, he will always be considered a booster of The Ohio State University.
Q. Is the institution responsible for the acts of boosters and booster support groups?
A. Yes. An institution’s responsibility for the conduct and integrity of its intercollegiate athletics program shall include responsibility for the acts of boosters.
Q. Can boosters entertain relatives or friends of a prospective student-athlete at any site off-campus?
A. No. As you know, a prospective student-athlete is any student in grades 9-12. Boosters are not permitted to entertain any prospective student-athlete on or off campus. Only authorized institutional staff members (i.e., coaches certified to recruit off-campus) are allowed to engage in such recruiting contact.
Q. Is it permissible for a booster to transport, pay or arrange for the payments of transportation costs incurred by relatives or friends of a prospective student-athlete to visit the campus or elsewhere?
A. No. Boosters are prohibited from providing transportation expenses, making in-person, on or off-campus recruiting contacts and from written, email or telephonic communications with a prospect or the prospect’s relatives or legal guardians.
Q. May a booster engage in evaluation activities on behalf of the institution?
A. The legislation does not preclude a booster from viewing a prospect’s contest on the booster’s initiative, but the booster may not make in-person contact with the prospect. The booster is also prohibited from contacting the prospect’s coach, principal, or counselor in an attempt to evaluate the prospect, as well as from visiting the prospect’s educational institution to pick up film or transcripts pertaining to the evaluation of the prospect’s academic or athletic ability.
Q. In what ways can a booster be involved in recruiting activities?
A. Boosters may notify an Ohio State coach of a prospect and provide information to the coach on the prospect’s athletics ability (e.g., sending the coach a newspaper article).
Q. Is it permissible for a booster to employ, or arrange for the employment of, a prospective student-athlete before the completion of the prospect’s senior year of high school?
A. No, but NCAA Bylaw 126.96.36.199 permits an institution to arrange employment for a prospective student-athlete that begins after the prospect’s senior year in high school. After a prospect completes their senior year of high school, it is permissible for a booster to contact the student-athlete concerning summer employment arrangements.
Please remember that the above information addresses only the main compliance issues concerning “Boosters” and is not an exhaustive discussion. For questions or to receive more information, please contact Heather Lyke, Associate Athletics Director for Compliance at (614) 292-2681.