An amateur student-athlete is one who engages in a particular sport for the educational, physical, mental and social benefits derived therefrom and for whom participation in that sport is an avocation. Only an amateur student-athlete is eligible for intercollegiate athletics participation in a particular sport.
An individual loses amateur status and thus shall not be eligible for intercollegiate competition in a particular sport if the individual: [Bylaw 12.1.2]
- Uses his or her athletics skill (directly or indirectly) for pay in any form in that sport;
- Accepts a promise of pay even if such pay is to be received following completion of intercollegiate athletics participation;
- Signs a contract or commitment of any kind to play professional athletics, regardless of its legal enforceability or any consideration received;
- Receives, directly or indirectly, a salary, reimbursement of expenses or any other form of financial assistance from a professional sports organization based upon athletics skill or participation, except as permitted by NCAA rules and regulations;
- Competes on any professional athletics team and knows (or had reason to know) that the team is a professional athletics team (per 12.02.4), even if no pay or remuneration for expenses was received; or
- Enters into an agreement with an agent or other entity to negotiate a professional contract.
Prohibited Forms of Pay
"Pay" as used above includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- Salary, Gratuity or Compensation. Any direct or indirect salary, gratuity or comparable compensation.
- Division or Split of Surplus. Any division or split of surplus (bonuses, game receipts, etc.).
- Educational Expenses. Educational expenses not permitted by the governing legislation of this Association (see Bylaw 15 regarding permissible financial aid to enrolled student-athletes).
- Educational Expenses From Outside Sports Team or Organization. Educational expenses provided to an individual by an outside sports team or organization that are based in any degree upon the recipient's athletics ability [except as specified in 126.96.36.199 and 188.8.131.52], even if the funds are given to the institution to administer to the recipient.
- Expenses, Awards and Benefits. Excessive or improper expenses, awards and benefits (see Bylaw 16 regarding permissible awards, benefits and expenses to enrolled student-athletes).
- Cash or Equivalent Award. Cash, or the equivalent thereof (e.g., trust fund), as an award for participation in competition at any time, even if such an award is permitted under the rules governing an amateur, noncollegiate event in which the individual is participating. An award or a cash prize that an individual could not receive under NCAA legislation may not be forwarded in the individual's name to a different individual or agency.
- Expenses/Awards Prohibited by Rules Governing Event. Expenses incurred or awards received by an individual that are prohibited by the rules governing an amateur, noncollegiate event in which the individual participates.
- Expenses from Outside Team or Organization. Expenses received from an outside amateur sports team or organization in excess of actual and necessary travel, room and board expenses, and apparel and equipment (for individual and team use only from teams or organizations not affiliated with member institutions, including local sports clubs as set forth in 184.108.40.206) for competition and practice held in preparation for such competition. Practice must be conducted in a continuous time period preceding the competition except for practice sessions conducted by a national team, which occasionally may be interrupted for specific periods of time preceding the competition.
- Unspecified or Unitemized Expenses. Payment to individual team members or individual competitors for unspecified or unitemized expenses beyond actual and necessary travel, room and board expenses for practice and competition.
- Expenses from Sponsor Other than Parents/Legal Guardians or Nonprofessional Sponsor of Event. Actual and necessary expenses or any other form of compensation to participate in athletics competition (while not representing an educational institution) from a sponsor other than an individual upon whom the athlete is naturally or legally dependent or the nonprofessional organization that is sponsoring the competition.
- Expenses for Parents/Legal Guardians of Participants in Athletics Competition. Expenses received by the parents or legal guardians of a participant in athletics competition from a nonprofessional organization sponsoring the competition in excess of actual and necessary travel, room and board expenses or any entertainment expenses, provided such expenses are made available to the parents or legal guardians of all participants in the competition.
- Payment Based on Performance. Any payment, including actual and necessary expenses, conditioned on the individual's or team's place finish or performance or given on an incentive basis, or receipt of expenses in excess of the same reasonable amount for permissible expenses given to all individuals or team members involved in the competition.
- Preferential Treatment, Benefits or Services. Preferential treatment, benefits or services because of the individual's athletics reputation or skill or pay-back potential as a professional athlete, unless such treatment, benefits or services are specifically permitted under NCAA legislation.
- Prize for Participation in Institution's Promotional Activity. Receipt of a prize for participation (involving the use of athletics ability) in a member institution's promotional activity that is inconsistent with the provisions of 12.5 or official interpretations approved by the Management Council.
Use of Overall Athletics Skill-Effect on Eligibility
Participation for pay in competition that involves the use of overall athletics skill (e.g., "superstars" competition) constitutes a violation of the Association's amateur-status regulations; therefore, an individual participating for pay in such competition is ineligible for intercollegiate competition in all sports. [Bylaw 220.127.116.11]
"Road racing" is essentially the same as cross country or track competition and cannot be separated effectively from those sports for purposes of Bylaw 12. Therefore, a student-athlete who accepts pay in any form for participation in such a race is ineligible for intercollegiate cross country or track competition. [Bylaw 18.104.22.168]
As a participant in a sport in which you are drafted without your consent (e.g., Major League Baseball), being drafted by a professional organization does not jeopardize your amateur status. However, many activities that could occur before or after you are drafted could impact your NCAA eligibility.
You or your parents are permitted to enter into negotiations with a professional sports organization without jeopardizing your NCAA amateur status. You or your parents are not permitted to retain an agent, lawyer or financial advisor to negotiate on your behalf. Agents, Lawyers and Financial Advisors NCAA rules do not prohibit meetings or discussions with an agent, but you would jeopardize your collegiate eligibility if you agree (orally or in writing) to be represented by an agent, regardless of whether the agreement becomes effective immediately or after your last season of collegiate eligibility. Many agents may call professional organizations or professional scouts to gather your potential draft and market value even prior to contacting you or your parents personally. This alone will not jeopardize your ability. However, an agent, lawyer or financial advisor would jeopardize your eligibility if he or she negotiates on your behalf or markets your athletics ability to the professional organization(s).
A lawyer or agent may provide advice to you regarding the merits of a proposed contract offer without jeopardizing your eligibility provided he or she does not have any contact (i.e., in person, by telephone or by mail) with the professional organization on your behalf and does not market your athletic ability or reputation.
In addition, the receipt of any benefits or gifts by you, your family, or friends from an individual who wishes to represent you in marketing your athletic abilities would jeopardize your NCAA eligibility. These benefits include (but are not limited to) transportation, meals, money and gifts, regardless of the value of the benefit.
After initial full-time collegiate enrollment, if you have eligibility remaining, you may try out with a professional athletics team (or participate in a combine including that team) at any time, provided you do not miss class. You may receive actual and necessary expenses in conjunction with one 48-hour tryout per professional team (or a combine including that team). The 48-hour tryout period shall begin at the time you arrive at the tryout location. At the completion of the 48-hour period, you must depart the location of the tryout immediately in order to receive return transportation expenses. A tryout may extend beyond 48 hours if you self-finance additional expenses, including return transportation. A self-financed tryout may be for any length of time, provided you do not miss class. [Bylaw 22.214.171.124]
In basketball, you may accept actual and necessary travel, and room and board expenses from a professional sports organization to attend that organization's predraft basketball camp regardless of the duration of the camp. [Bylaw 126.96.36.199.1]