NCAA Bylaw 12.01.2 indicates that member institution's athletics programs are designed to be an integral part of the educational program and the student-athlete is considered an integral part of the student body, thus maintaining a clear line of demarcation between college athletics and professional sports. In this regard, an amateur student-athlete is one who engages in a particular sport for the educational, physical, mental and social benefits derived there from, and for whom participation in that sport is an avocation. Accordingly, the following legislation and the interpretations relating to amateurism have been developed.
General Rule: (Bylaw 12.3.1) An individual shall be ineligible for participation in an intercollegiate sport if he or she ever has agreed (orally or in writing) to be represented by an agent for the purpose of marketing his or her athletics ability or reputation in that sport. Further, an agency contract not specifically limited in writing to a sport or particular sports shall be deemed applicable to all sports, and the individual shall be ineligible to participate in any sport.
1. Student-athlete signing an agreement with an attorney: A student-athlete is not permitted to sign an agreement with an attorney to represent the student-athlete in screening inquiries and analyzing offers from agents, inasmuch as the specific request is contrary to Bylaw 12.3.2 (representation by an agent). [89/01/27 staff minute, Item No. 1-(c)].
2. The relationship between student-athlete and lawyer who contacted professional football teams on the student-athletes behalf. The staff agreed that an agency relationship existed between a student-athlete and a lawyer, contrary to the provisions of Bylaw 12.3.2 in a situation in which the student-athlete received a "tryout" with one professional team as a result of the lawyers efforts, and the student-athlete and the lawyer communicated with each other over a five-minute period regarding the reaction of the professional teams. [87/08/14 staff minute, Item No. 1- (c)]
Representation for Future Negotiations
(Bylaw 188.8.131.52) An individual shall be ineligible per Bylaw 13.3.1 if he or she enters into a verbal or written agreement with an agent for representation in future professional sports negotiations that are to take place after the individual has completed his or her eligibility in that sport.
Benefits from Prospective Agents
Benefits from prospective agents: (Bylaw 184.108.40.206) An individual shall be ineligible per Bylaw 12.3.1 if he or she (or his or her relatives or friends) accepts transportation or other benefits from any person who wished to represent the individual in the marketing of his or her athletics skill and is an extra benefit not available to the student body in general.
1. For example, a student-athlete would jeopardize his or her intercollegiate eligibility in a particular sport if he or she accepts transportation (or other benefits) from a prospective agent from the member institution's campus to the prospective agent's office to discuss services the agent could provide to the student-athlete.
2. Agent signs a student-athlete who is a multi sport participant: A student-athlete may sign an agent contract for a particular sport, but by doing so the student-athlete would render himself or herself ineligible for that sport, further in such a case, the agent may begin providing services related to that sport only, and the agent could not provide the student-athlete with any benefits, entertainment or compensation of any kind as the provisions of Bylaw 16.12.1 are not specified. If the student-athlete receives compensation for signing with an agent for a particular sport, the student-athlete's institutional financial aid must be gradated accordingly. [87/12/18 staff minute, Item No. 1-(e)]
3. Receipt of money from an agent: A student-athlete who receives money (or other benefits) from an agent who is representing the student-athlete only in a particular sport would remain eligible to participate in a second sport at the member institution. Under such circumstances, the student-athlete's financial aid would be required to be gradated in an amount equal to the loan or the value of the benefits. [91/01/26 IC, Item No. 1]
4. Agent charging a fee to a student-athlete on deferred payment schedule: A student-athlete jeopardizes his or her eligibility if an agent provides advice to the student-athlete about a professional contract with the understanding that the student athlete will pay the agent for such services once the student-athlete has been drafted by the professional sports organization, regardless of the fact that the agent provides the service only to student-athletes and has the same fee arrangement for all client. [92/12/16 staff minute, Item No. 1-(a)]
(Bylaw 12.3.2) Securing advice form a lawyer concerning a proposed professional sports contract shall not be considered contracting for representation by an agent under this rule, unless the lawyer also represents the student-athlete in negotiations for such a contract.
1. Advice from individuals other than attorneys: This legislation (bylaw 12.3.2) was not intended to restrict individuals other than lawyers (e.g., financial consultants, family friends) from giving advice regarding professional contracts. Advice may be secured from an individual under these circumstances concerning a proposed contract, provided the individual in turn does not represent the student-athlete in negotiations for such a contract. [87/07/08 IC, Item No. 10].
2. Attorneys and professional contracts: The background and original purpose of Bylaw 12.3.2 that permits a student-athlete to secure advice from a lawyer concerning a professional sports contract:
In 1974, NCAA members recognized that student-athletes might need legal advice to assist them in understanding and evaluating professional sports contract offers made to them while they had eligibility remaining. Accordingly, member institutions adopted the current clause of Bylaw 12.3.2 that permits a student-athlete to seek advice from a lawyer, provided the lawyer does not represent the student-athlete in negotiations for a professional sports contract.
It was noted on the NCAA convention floor during consideration of the proposal that a student-athlete may seek the advice of a lawyer relative to future negotiations or discussions of the individual's professional aspirations, so long as the lawyer does not become actively involved in negotiations with the professional team or organization. The legislation was intended to provide an opportunity for a student-athlete to receive advice so that he or she could understand a contract offer, but it was not intended to involve the lawyer in direct contact with a professional organization.
Since the adoption of this legislation, more and more agent-attorneys have used the language to become involved actively in actual contract discussions with professional sports organizations to communicate all contract offers to a particular student-athlete through them while at the same time insisting that they are not representing the student in contract negotiations.
The legislation does not deny an individual the opportunity to seek competent legal counsel to review the terms of a proposed professional contract and to assist the individual in understanding those terms, nor does it deny an individual the opportunity to be represented by legal counsel if he or she chooses to negotiate a professional contract and forgo his or her remaining eligibility. It does indicate that once a student-athlete decides to have legal counsel and contact the professional club concerning the contract offer, the individual has agreed to be represented by an agent in the marketing of his or her athletic talent, and no longer is eligible per Bylaw 12.3.2 [84/05/09 LA Column No. 7]
3. Advice from a lawyer or agent concerning a proposed professional contract: A lawyer or agent may provide advice to an individual regarding the merits of a proposed contract without jeopardizing the individual's amateur status, provided he or she has no contact and does not market the individual's athletic ability or reputation in a particular sport. [89/06/30 staff minute, Item No. 1-(f)]
Presence of a Lawyer at Negotiations
[Bylaw 220.127.116.11] A lawyer may not be present during discussions of a contract offer with a professional organization or have any direct contact (i.e., in person, by telephone, or by mail) with a professional sports organization on behalf of the student-athlete. A lawyer's presence during such discussions is considered representation by an agent.
For example: If an individual was drafted by a major league baseball team and offered a contract, his advisor would not be permitted to negotiate with a professional team. In this regard, however, the attorney could provide advice to the individual in private regarding the merits of the contract. If the individual, in turn, elected not to accept the terms of the contract, he could negotiate the terms of the contract with the professional team by himself or with the assistance of his parents or the institution's professional sports counseling panel.