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Saturday, December 09, 2006

Explaining, once again, why schollys are legal

I cannot tolerate the continual misrepresentation of both the USA Hockey and NCAA rules regarding scholarships. I'll make this as simple as possible for everyone. Firstly, the USA Hockey Annual Guide has the following about schollys, on page 25:
Team Individual Player Scholarships Prohibited

That no team scholarships/financial discounts shall be allowed to any individual player based upon his skill and ability or game performances, without that individual player performing meaningful, productive work in exchange therefore (emphasis added) off the ice and away from team competition. (See 2005-06 NCAA Division I Manual, By Law Article XII – Amateurism, Section 12.1-General Regulations, Sub Section 12.1.1- Amateur Status (a).
The second part of this: "without that individual player performing meaningful, productive work in exchange therefore..." is a HUGE loophole that allows scholarships. You can do it, so long as the kid mows the coach's lawn or works in the rink proshop, or whatever else. Of course, not having guidelines for what constitutes "meaningful work" makes this loophole ripe for abuse.

Now, it's time to look at the NCAA regulations cited in the above passage:
12.1.2 Amateur Status

An individual loses amateur status and thus shall not be eligible for intercollegiate competition in a particular sport if the individual:

(a) Uses his or her athletics skill (directly or indirectly) for pay in any form in that sport; (Revised: 4/25/02 effective 8/1/02)

(d) Receives, directly or indirectly, a salary, reimbursement of expenses or any other form of financial assistance from a professional sports organization (emphasis mine) based upon athletics skill or participation, except as permitted by NCAA rules and regulations;
Junior hockey teams are, of course, NOT professional sports organizations. As reinforcement of what constitutes professional organizations in the NCAA, we have the following:
12.02.4 Professional Athletics Team

A professional team is any organized team that:

(a) Provides any of its players more than actual and necessary expenses for participation on the team (emphasis added), except as otherwise permitted by NCAA legislation. Actual and necessary expenses are limited to the following, provided the value of these items is commensurate with the fair market value in the locality of the player(s) and is not excessive in nature: (Revised: 4/25/02 effective 8/1/02)
(1) Meals directly tied to competition and practice held in preparation for such competition;

(2) Lodging directly tied to competition and practice held in preparation for such competition;

(3) Apparel, equipment and supplies;

(4) Coaching and instruction;

(5) Health/medical insurance;

(6) Transportation (i.e., expenses to and from practice and competition, cost of transportation from home to training/practice site at the beginning of the season and from training/practice site to home at the end of season);

(7) Medical treatment and physical therapy;

(8) Facility usage; (Revised: 4/24/03)

(9) Entry fees; and (Revised: 4/24/03)

(10) Other reasonable expenses; or (Adopted 4/24/03; Revised: 10/28/04)
(b) Declares itself to be professional (see Bylaw 12.1.2.4.1.1). (Revised: 8/8/02)
Also, as I have mentioned previously, the NCAA's new Amateur Certification Clearinghouse only asks players if they have ever "competed on any team where anyone received more than their expenses to play on the team." Tuition is considered an expense to play, is it not?

I've spent my entire professional career writing and interpreting regulations and policies, and the above passages seem to be pretty cut and dry. So, I'll say it again... If USA Hockey wants to ban scholarships, they need to re-write their rules to remove the "meaningful work" exemption. But they certainly aren't prohibited by the NCAA.

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