Bag O' Cash = Recruiting Boo-Boo.
While these stories only tangentially effect Syracuse, they do serve as a warning to everyone marginally involved with Orange athletics. Basically, the message is simple: "Don't talk to high school students."
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -Kentucky self-reported a secondary NCAA violation because of postings on a potential recruit's MySpace.com Web site, apparently by fans.
The postings on the site of West Virginia high school basketball star Patrick Patterson, who just completed his junior year at Huntington High School, tried to entice him to attend Kentucky, WLEX-TV in Lexington reported.
"Fans are not allowed to interact with recruitable student athletes," Kentucky athletics spokesman Scott Stricklin said Wednesday. "We had to report that to the NCAA."
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How does the NCAA rulebook apply to MySpace.com comments such as those left on Patrick Patterson's page by Kentucky fans? Awkwardly and indirectly. The commenters are considered, at least in Kentucky's eyes, to be "representatives of an institution's athletic interests" and the comments themselves are improper "written communication" with a recruit.
Crissy Schluep, a spokesperson for the NCAA, explained that "there are currently no references in the NCAA bylaws that directly talk about personal Web pages such as MySpace. That said, it is up to each individual college and university to self-report a violation if they feel that a fan is considered under this definition [as a representative of an institution's athletic interests]."
Kentucky decided that any of the fans who posted pro-Wildcats comments were involving themselves in the recruiting process and therefore could be considered boosters. That's why the school self-reported the violations last week.
Schluep said the following NCAA bylaws were applicable, although "it is important to note that when these bylaws were voted on by the NCAA member colleges and universities, this type of technology [meaning personal Web sites] was not used as a common method of recruiting":
• 13.01.4: Recruiting by Representatives of Athletics Interests
Representatives of an institution's athletics interests (as defined in Bylaw 13.02.13) are prohibited from making in-person, on- or off-campus recruiting contacts, or written or telephonic communications with a prospective student-athlete or the prospective student-athlete's relatives or legal guardians. Specific examples of the exceptions to application of this regulation are set forth in Bylaw 22.214.171.124.
• 13.02.13: Representative of Athletics Interests
A "representative of the institution's athletics interests" is an individual, independent agency, corporate entity (e.g., apparel or equipment manufacturer) or other organization who is known (or who should have been known) by a member of the institution's executive or athletics administration to [non-applicable sections omitted]:
(c) Be assisting or to have been requested (by the athletics department staff) to assist in the recruitment of prospective student-athletes;
(e) Have been involved otherwise in promoting the institution's athletics program.
• 126.96.36.199: General Rule
All in-person, on- and off-campus recruiting contacts with a prospective student-athlete or the prospective student-athlete's relatives or legal guardian(s) shall be made only by authorized institutional staff members. Such contact, as well as correspondence and telephone calls, by representatives of an institution's athletics interests is prohibited except as otherwise permitted in this section.
Violations of this bylaw involving individuals other than a representative of an institution's athletics interests shall be considered institutional violations per Constitution 2.8.1; however, such violations shall not affect the prospective student-athlete's eligibility.
The Syracuse Department of Athletics has taken a broad approach to defining the term "booster" and what activity constitutes inappropriate contact/conduct. As the compliance website clearly lays out, basically every person on the planet that owns an orange t-shirt is considered a Syracuse booster:
What is a Representative of SU's Athletic Interests -- a Booster?The moral of the story, I suppose, is that every person with some relationship to Syracuse (no matter how tenuous) must exercise restraint when it comes to interacting with potential recruits. As the NCAA's rules clearly indicate, good intentions do not mitigate penalties.
Syracuse University is responsible for insuring that its various constituencies (e.g., University staff and faculty, student-athletes, alumni and friends) abide by NCAA rules and regulations. NCAA rules indicate that all alumni, friends, and employees of the University are categorized as "representatives of Syracuse University's athletics interests". The NCAA stipulates that once an individual has been identified as a representative or "booster" of the University's athletics programs, he or she retains this status forever even if the individual is no longer associated with the athletics program.
A representative of SU's athletics interests (i.e., a booster) is an individual or a business that:
- Is or ever has been a contributor to the Orange Pack or any of the sport specific support groups under the Orange Pack umbrella; is or ever has been an employee of SU; has ever made a donation of any kind to the SU men's or women's athletic programs.
- Has ever purchased season tickets for any of SU's athletic programs; is the spouse of an employee of SU; has ever helped to arrange or to provide summer employment for enrolled student-athletes or for prospects who have signed a NLI.
- Has ever contacted (by letter, telephone or in person) a high school student, grades 9-12, for the purpose of encouraging the student to participate in any of SU's athletic programs; has ever assisted in providing any benefit to enrolled student-athletes or their families; has ever been involved in anyway with any of SU's athletic programs.
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NCAA Rules Concerning Interacting With Prospective Recruits
All of SU's respective coaching staff's are actively engaged in recruiting prospective student-athletes for next year. Many times, fans and supporters of the athletic program have an interest in being involved in recruitment process of a prospect they may be aware of or know personally. Naturally, like the coaching staff, you may believe the prospect could help an SU program and you might like to see the prospect eventually attend the University. Additionally, you may wish to provide the prospect and/or the prospect's family or friends with a show of support in an effort to influence or congratulate the student for his or her decision to attend the University.
You can assist the coaching staff in the recruiting process by notifying them of any student(s) you think would be a strong addition to the University and to the athletics program. Feel free to send to the SU coaching staff any newspaper clippings or other information about prospects which you think would be of interest. Your assistance in this way is very helpful.
However, it is important for anyone associated with any of SU's programs in any capacity (e.g., as fans or representatives of SU's athletics interests), to remember that NCAA rules prohibit any individual other than the coaching staff from making in-person contact with a prospective student-athlete for the purposes of recruitment, either on or off the SU campus. In addition, only coaching staff members can write or telephone a prospect or the prospect's relatives, legal guardians or coach.
As with most rules, there are some exceptions. For example, it is permissible for an established family friend or neighbor of a prospective student-athlete to have normal contacts with a prospect provided the contacts are not made for the purposes of recruiting and are not initiated or arranged by a member of Syracuse University's coaching staff. Also, any unavoidable incidental contact with a prospect that a fan or representative of SU's athletics interests may have would not be against NCAA rules provided the contact is not prearranged by the individual or the coaching staff, does not take place at the prospect's high school and it is not for recruitment purposes.
Therefore, while there are many things you can do to support the SU's program, we must ask that you to leave the recruitment of prospects to the various coaching staffs. This will insure that we continue to attract top student-athletes to Syracuse University the right way. Thank you for your loyalty and continued support of all of our athletic programs and the compliance efforts of the University.
NCAA Regulations & the National Letter of Intent
In November, February and April, the hard work of the coaches and staff of the respective programs is evidenced by the signing of worthy high school seniors who announce their intentions to pursue their academic and athletic endeavors on the SU Hill and commit to the University by signing a National Letter of Intent (NLI).
The NLI is a document that binds the student to attend the University provided they are officially admitted and meet the NCAA's initial academic eligibility requirements and, essentially ends the recruitment process.
As fans and supporters of the athletic program you may wish to provide the prospect and/or the prospect's family or friends with a show of support in an effort to congratulate the student for his or her decision to attend the University and to indicate your commitment and pride in the University and, in particular, the athletics programs. However, please be aware that with respect to you, as a friend of the program, the NCAA still considers a student to be a prospect even after signing a National Letter of Intent to attend an institution, and both the institution and the prospect continue to be governed by the NCAA's recruiting regulations.
In this regard, please be reminded that specific NCAA recruiting regulations remain in effect subsequent to a prospective student-athlete's signing of a NLI. These regulations include, but are not limited to:
- Contacting Prospects. Only coaching staff members can make recruiting contact with a prospective student-athlete. No on- or off-campus contact (including correspondence and telephone calls) may be made by a representative of the SU's athletics interests with the exception of making arrangements for summer employment.
- Summer Employment. NCAA rules permit SU to arrange employment for a prospective student-athlete that begins after the prospect's senior year in high school or after a two-year college prospect has officially withdrawn from or has completed requirements for graduation at the two-year college. Subsequent to a prospect signing a NLI, it is permissible for a booster to contact (telephone, write, face-to-face) the signed prospect concerning summer employment arrangements. However, keep in mind that SU's arrangement of employment for a prospect is permitted, provided that the employment does not begin prior to the completion of the prospect's senior year in high school.
- Loans to prospects. Please be aware that NCAA rules prohibit representatives of SU's athletics interests from arranging or co-signing loans for prospects or their parents.
- Summer housing for prospects. NCAA rules do not allow representatives of SU's athletics interests to make special housing arrangements for prospects.
- Precollege expenses. SU or representatives of its athletics interests shall not offer, provide or arrange financial assistance, directly or indirectly, to pay (in whole or in part) the cost of the prospect's educational or other expenses for any period prior to his or her enrollment, even for those prospects who have signed a NLI, or an institutional offer of admission or written tender of financial assistance.
- Extra Benefits. As a reminder, SU athletics representatives cannot provide an "extra benefit" or special arrangement to a prospect. The same prohibitions that exist for currently enrolled student-athletes apply to all prospects regarding extra benefits.
SU Alumni Club Functions
- Prospects from your area may be invited to SU functions as long as they are not singled out to be the only students included in the function. If all students invited to the function are receiving a complimentary meal, it would be permissible for prospects recruited to Syracuse University for athletics to receive a complimentary meal also. In the same manner, because prospects cannot be contacted, invitations to SU functions must be given in the same manner that they would be given to all students participating in the function. Invitations may be sent to the high schools or advertised in the newspaper in the area indicating what the invitation entails. The invitation may be sent to all high school seniors in the area, seniors who are interested in attending Syracuse University, seniors who have been accepted to SU, etc. but cannot be issued only to prospects who will participate in athletics at Syracuse University. In addition, prospects who attend functions cannot be singled out to be introduced as that would be a violation of NCAA publicity legislation relating to prospects. Treat prospects in the same manner that all other students are treated.
- Prospects may attend SU Alumni Club functions that are open to the general public as long as the prospects pay for their own meal and entertainment and provide their own transportation to attend. An exception to this would be if the function and meal were free to all high school seniors from the local community, as stated above. The same restrictions would still apply after a prospect commits to or signs a National Letter of Intent with Syracuse University. A Syracuse University signee must be treated the same as any other high school student. Again, the prospect could not be singled out to be introduced at the function.
We remind you that you can continue to assist the coaching staff in the recruiting process by notifying them of any student(s) you think would be a strong addition to the University and to the athletics program. Feel free to send to the SU coaching staff any newspaper clippings or other information about prospects which you think would be of interest. Your assistance in this way is very helpful.
In addition, as an athletics representative, you are not precluded from continuing friendships with the families of prospective or enrolled student-athletes. You simply cannot encourage a prospect's participation in the SU athletics program or provide benefits to the student-athlete that you were not providing before he or she became a prospect or enrolled student-athlete.
Any inappropriate, even inadvertent, activity on your part could result in a violation of NCAA regulations and may place the student-athletes eligibility in immediate jeopardy. We take this opportunity to remind you that while there are many things you can do to support the SU's program, we must ask that you leave the recruitment of, and contact with, prospects to the various coaching staffs. This will insure that we continue to attract top student-athletes to Syracuse University the right way. Thank you for your loyalty and continued support of all of our athletic programs and the compliance efforts of the University.