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Case Study: Student-Athletes and Dual Roles

Keywords: Coaching, Lessons, Employment, Financial Aid, Internship.

In this week’s brief we are going to address a situation that is posed to Legislative Services quite often. What types of roles can an identified student-athlete have on-campus or otherwise? This question is posed by parents, coaches, and of course students. Generally, the student is wanting to earn extra money but there are some more unique situations that we have encountered. We will present these questions in our normal casebook style below but first we want to bring your attention to some past briefs that are related to this topic.

  • The first brief comes from June 27, 2017, and discusses NAIA coaches and dual roles. It explains what a coach can and cannot do both during the season and in the off-season. One of the biggest takeaways from this brief is that an NAIA coach must always adhere to the rules of the NAIA.  
  • The second brief comes from this past January and mainly discusses amateurism. However, there is an excellent example of how a student-athlete could make money off of his/her social media presence. The brief also discusses what a student-athlete could do in their own sport in the summer.

Case Studies

*Assume all schools are NAIA institutions unless otherwise noted.

Scenario 1a:

Nic is a soccer player competing in his fourth and final season of competition at Prairie Home University. Nic wants to be a coach when his playing days are over, so in order to hone his coaching skills, Nic begins working at local youth soccer academy providing lessons to high school aged kids. Nic makes $50.00 an hour for a lesson which is the set rate at the academy. One day, the dad of one of Nic’s students comes to realize Nic is a student-athlete at PHU. The dad, being an alum, strikes up a conversation with Nic. When the dad goes to pay, he gives Nic a 100 dollar bill and tells Nic to treat it like a tip which he had never done before. Is Nic in violation of any rules for working and accepting money for his soccer expertise?

Answer 1a:

No! This is specifically allowed in Article VII, Section B, Item 3, which states a student athlete may solicit and be paid reasonable compensation for lessons. Here, Nic is being paid the academy’s set rate for all of its instructors thus it would be deemed reasonable. This is allowable per our bylaws.

Scenario 1b:

Can Nic accept the $50.00 “tip” given to him by the dad?

Answer 1b:

Nic should not accept this monetary tip from the dad as it appears the reasoning behind the tip is due to the fact both the dad and Nic went to the same university. This would be a violation of Article II, Section B.

Scenario 2:

Josey is currently a graduate student and women’s basketball player at Fort University (Fort). Josey is offered the position of graduate assistant on the women’s basketball team at Fort. The graduate assistant position would pay for her books and one third of her academic fees. Josey wants to desperately be a coach in the future and thinks this is an incredible opportunity to be a player/coach. Josey is currently not receiving any financial aid. Can Josey be a player/coach on the women’s basketball team and receive this financial support?

Answer 2:

Josey can be a player/coach for Fort’s basketball team. This is acceptable under Article VII, Section B, Item 4. The catch is that the financial aid she is receiving for being the coach will be considered countable aid and must be included in the year-end-report as such. This means that her aid will count against the women’s basketball team’s scholarship limits.

Scenario 3:

James is currently a football player at Upper Peninsula State University and is offered a paid internship with the Detroit Lions during the summer in between terms. James would be housed and fed and would receive minimum wage. This is the standard compensation package across the league for this type of position. James’ job would be cutting and editing game tape. Can James accept this internship?

Answer 3:

Yes! Just because James is a football player and would be getting paid by an NFL team, he would not violate any of the NAIA’s bylaws. He is getting paid a reasonable rate for the internship and he is not utilizing his athletic prowess in any way. This is akin to James getting a paid internship at any other type of business and the NAIA would not want to restrict this awesome opportunity.

Applicable Bylaws:

The bylaws/policies that mention or discuss amateurism are listed below. Please note that there are could be more bylaws relevant to specific situations, but they are not listed here. Please refer to our Official Handbook for a complete listing of all NAIA Bylaws and Policies.  

Article II, Section B

Assignment of scholarships, grants in aid, or student loans shall be controlled by the faculty through the regularly constituted committee on student loans and scholarships.

Any financial aid or assistance to prospective or enrolled students in money or in kind, except that which comes from members of their immediate family or from those upon whom they are legally dependent, shall be administered by the institution under policies and procedures established by the institution through its regularly constituted committee on student loans and scholarships. Under no conditions may an individual or organization provide direct financial assistance to a previously enrolled or prospective student.

Scholarships, grants in aid, and student loans shall be awarded on such bases as will not discriminate for or against presumed or recognized athletes. Athletes and non-athletes shall be required to maintain the same minimum academic standing to qualify for such scholarships.

All donations to the general athletics program and/or the athletics scholarship fund by outside organizations shall be deposited in an institutional fund and be administered by appropriate institutional committees under the control of the chief executive officer.
A member institution shall award no more financial aid to a student-athlete than the actual cost of:
1. Tuition;
2. Mandatory fees, books, and supplies required for courses in which the student-athlete is enrolled; and
3. Board and room for the student-athlete only, based on the official board and room allowance listed in the official institutional publication.
Further financial assistance to a student-athlete by a member institution, other than listed above, is prohibited.

Article VII, Section B, Item 3

Receiving reasonable compensation for officiating or coaching in amateur, recreational or interscholastic programs. A student may
solicit and be paid reasonable compensation on a lesson basis.

Article VII, Section B, Item 7

Receiving reasonable compensation for supervision of physical education, playground or recreational activities.

Article VII, Section B, Item 8

Receiving reasonable compensation for use of name or picture to promote any commercial product or enterprise if:
a. There is no reference to the student’s intercollegiate athletic participation in any promotion of the product or enterprise;
b. The use of the student’s name or picture in no way references any institution with which the student has established identification, including but not limited to the use of logos, marks or names; and
c. Remuneration is consistent with standard rates for any individual participating in comparable promotional activities.

Please tune in at noon central time on Tuesday, as Lendsey Thomson and Jared Shafer will dive into these scenarios even further.

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