As a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (“NCAA”), Florida A&M University must abide by NCAA rules and regulations as they relate to all aspects of its athletic program. In addition to ensuring that all of its coaches, administrators, University faculty and staff, and student-athletes are aware of and following NCAA rules, FAMU is also responsible for the actions of any individual who is a “representative of athletic interests.” Compliance with NCAA rules requires the effort of everyone associated with an institution’s athletic program – institutional staff, faculty, students, student-athletes and representatives of athletic interests. In order to act within NCAA rules, it is important to understand not only the rules themselves, but also why the NCAA rules exist and why schools must monitor compliance with the rules. The information contained in this site was developed to provide you with a general overview of key Division I NCAA rules and regulations. If you have any additional questions about NCAA rules and regulations, you should contact the NCAA directly or visit the NCAA website at www.ncaa.org.
Boosters/Representative of Athletics Interest
Florida A&M University is responsible for ensuring that its various constituencies (e.g. staff, faculty, coaches, student-athletes, boosters, alumni and friends) abide by NCAA rules and regulations.
Who is a “representative of athletic interests”?
A “representative of the institution’s athletic interest” (a.k.a. “booster”) is an individual, independent agency, corporate entity (e.g. apparel or equipment manufacturer) or other organization that is known (or should have been known) by a member of FAMU executive or athletics administration to:
- Have participated in or to be a member of an agency or organization promoting FAMU’ intercollegiate athletics program;
- Have made financial contributions to the athletics department or to an athletics booster organization of FAMU;
- Be assisting or to have been requested (by the athletics department staff) to assist in the recruitment of prospects;
- Be assisting or to have assisted in providing benefits to enrolled student-athletes or their families; or
- Have been involved otherwise in promoting FAMU athletics program.
Note: Once an individual, agency, corporation or other organization is identified as a “representative of athletics interest”, that person/entity retains that identity indefinitely.
Involvement in Recruiting
Only authorized university staff members are permitted to participate in recruitment activities on behalf of an institution.
What constitutes a recruiting contact?
Any face-to-face encounter between a prospect or the prospect’s parent(s), relative(s) or legal guardian(s) and a FAMU University staff member or representative of athletic interests during which any dialogue occurs in excess of an exchange of a greeting. Any such face-to-face encounter that is prearranged (e.g., positions himself/herself in a location where a contact is possible) or that takes place on the grounds of the prospect’s educational institution or at the site of organized competition or practice involving the prospect or the prospect’s high-school, preparatory school, two-year college or all-star team shall be considered a contact, regardless of whether any conversation occurs.
Permissible Activities for Boosters in Recruitment
The following list provides examples of permissible actions by boosters:
- A booster may attend high school, prep school and two-year college athletic events at his/her own discretion (i.e., not at the direction of a university staff member), but may not have any contact with a prospect or his/her parents, relatives or legal guardians.
- An athletic representative can assist FAMU Athletics by notifying the appropriate coaching staff of any student-athlete you think would be an asset to the athletic program (e.g., via newspaper clippings, telephone calls to coaching staff members, etc.) so that the coach can then make the appropriate contact with the prospect.
- An athletic representative can continue established friendships with families who have prospective or enrolled student-athletes but cannot encourage a prospect’s participation in FAMU athletics or provide benefits to a student-athlete (except as expressly permitted by NCAA rules).
- During an encounter with a prospect, if the prospect or his/her parent, relative or legal guardian asks a booster a question about FAMU athletics program, simply direct their questions to the appropriate coach at FAMU.
Prohibited Activities for Boosters in Recruitment
Boosters are prohibited from engaging the following activities. This list is not all-inclusive.
- Direct or indirect involvement in making arrangements for a prospect, the prospect’s relatives or friends to receive money or financial aid of any kind.
- Providing free tickets or tickets at a reduced cost to any FAMU home or away events for prospects, their relatives or friends. (Only the Athletic Department can provide complimentary admissions to prospective student-athletes at home athletic events.)
- Providing any transportation of any sort to prospects (or their parents/guardians/relatives/friends) including transportation to campus to attend athletic events.
- Paying or offering to pay registration fees for summer sports camps for a prospect.
- Contacting a prospect’s coach, principal or counselor for the purpose of recruiting the prospect (e.g., meeting with the counselor, picking up a videotape of the prospect, etc.)
- Providing cash or loans in any amount, or signing or co-signing for a loan.
- Providing gifts of any kind, including birthday cards and holiday gifts.
- Providing special discounts for goods and services (e.g., movie tickets, car repairs, clothing, haircut, meals, legal services).
- Providing the use of any transportation (e.g., car, moped, motorcycle, etc.)
- Providing free or reduced-cost rent/housing.
- Entertaining prospective student-athletes, their friends or relatives.
Employment of Prospective and Enrolled Student-Athletes
Boosters are permitted to employ prospective and enrolled student-athletes within certain parameters:
- You may employ or arrange for the employment of a prospective student-athlete, but you must first obtain the approval of the Office of Compliance. Prospective student-athletes may not begin employment with a booster until they have completed their senior year in high school or withdrawn from their two-year college/completed their two-year college graduation requirements.
- You may employ or arrange for the employment of an enrolled student-athlete (during the summer or the academic year), but you must first obtain the approval of the Office of Compliance.
- You may not provide transportation for prospects or enrolled student-athletes that you employ (unless it is the company’s established policy to transport all employees to the job site).
- NCAA rules require that compensation may be paid to a prospective or enrolled student-athlete only for work actually performed and at a rate commensurate with the going rate in that locality for similar services. Such compensation may not include any remuneration for the value or utility that the individual may have for the employer because of publicity, reputation, fame or personal following that he/she has obtained because of athletic ability.
Questions Frequently Asked By Boosters
Q. I donated a small amount of money to the Rattlers ten (10) years ago but I have not donated anything else since then, am I still a booster?
A. Yes. Once you become a booster, you never lose that identity.
Q. What if a prospective student is not an athlete, do the recruiting rules apply?
A. Yes. A prospect is any student who has started classes for the ninth grade.
Q. What if I am a booster and my neighbor is the quarterback on his high school team; can I talk to him?
A. Yes. There are limited exceptions to the prohibition on boosters contacting prospects:
(1) You may have contact with a prospect who is an established family friend or neighbor as long as the contact is not for the purpose of recruiting the prospect.
- You may have “unavoidable” or “incidental” contact with a prospect (e.g., running into the prospect at the store) provided the contact is not prearranged by anyone; the contact does not take place on the grounds of the prospect’s educational institution or at a prospect’s practice or competition; the contact is not made for the purpose of recruiting the prospect; and the contact only involves normal civility.
- You may have contact with a prospect who has signed a National Letter of Intent with FAMU for the purpose of discussing possible summer employment only.
Q. Is it permissible for a booster to telephone a prospective student-athlete or send a letter of congratulations to a prospective student-athlete AFTER the student-athlete signed a National Letter of Intent?
A. No. A prospect remains a prospect until he/she enrolls in school, therefore telephoning or writing a prospect is not permissible. The only permissible contact with a prospect is for employment purposes but only after speaking with a member of the Office of Compliance.
Q. Is it permissible for a booster group to place an advertisement that is targeted at local prospective student-athletes in a newspaper or other publication?
A. No. It is not permissible to place such an advertisement even if the advertisement does not specifically mention FAMU.
Q. Is it permissible for a booster to make a donation to a high school?
A. Yes, provided the high school is in the booster’s local community, the booster acts independently of the university, the funds are appropriately distributed through channels established by the high school (or organization conducting the fund-raising activity) and the funds are not earmarked for a specific prospect.