Application of Amateurism Rules to Ice Hockey Prospective Student-Athletes.
The purpose of this memo is to inform NCAA Division I ice hockey coaches of two changes: (1) amateurism rules as they apply to prospective student-athletes prior to initial collegiate enrollment, at any collegiate institution; and (2) the student-athlete reinstatement directive as approved by the Division I Management Council at the July and October 2002 meetings, which applies to prospective student-athletes first enrolling at an NCAA institution on or after August 1, 2003.
1. Pre-enrollment Legislation. The Division I membership amended the professional draft legislation to permit individuals, prior to full-time enrollment at a collegiate institution, to declare for the professional draft and be drafted without compromising their NCAA eligibility. Once an individual enrolls full time at a collegiate institution, he or she can no longer take advantage of this rule change. This change applies to all individuals initially enrolling at a collegiate institution on or after August 1, 2002.
Please note that this change only allows the prospect to enter a professional draft and be drafted; it does not allow the prospect to sign any type of agreement, accept any compensation or compete on a professional team.
An 18-year-old prospective student-athlete is in his first year of draft eligibility for the National Hockey League draft in June 2003. He is currently playing junior hockey in an USA Hockey-sanctioned junior league (e.g., USHL, NAHL, etc.). He elects to "opt-in" to the NHL draft but does not get drafted. He has signed a National Letter of Intent with a Division I institution and will enroll in that school for the 2003-04 school year/season.
Eligibility Status: He does not jeopardize NCAA eligibility as long as the "opt-in" to the NHL draft occurred prior to his initial full-time enrollment at a collegiate institution. Further, if he is drafted and still wants to enroll in college, then he must indicate his desire not to be contractually obligated to the professional team and may not compete on that professional team.
Situation #2 A student-athlete initially enrolls full time in a collegiate institution for the 2002-03 academic year. After full-time enrollment, the student-athlete elects to "opt-in" to the NHL draft.
Eligibility Status: He loses his NCAA eligibility. Entering the draft after enrolling full time at a collegiate institution will jeopardize the student-athlete's NCAA eligibility.
2. Reinstatement Directive. The second issue pertains to the penalty for violating certain amateurism rules. At its April 2002 meeting, the Division I Management Council voted not to change restrictive rules related to professional contracts, professional competition and compensation from professional teams, including expenses. At the July and October 2002 meetings, the Council amended a penalty structure proposed by the Student-Athlete Reinstatement Committee and staff. The changes will affect many student-athletes, including men's and women's ice hockey student-athletes. The entire reinstatement directive is attached (Attachment A).
At the April 2002 meeting, the Management Council adopted a revised definition of a professional team (Attachment B). Based on the new professional team definition, it is the Student-Athlete Reinstatement Committee's and the staff's understanding that NCAA Bylaw 18.104.22.168.4 (Major Junior A Ice Hockey) is still a valid bylaw since Major Junior A teams provide compensation exceeding actual and necessary expenses to some players. Based on this premise, the portion of the reinstatement directive related to competition with a professional team applies to competition on a Major Junior A team.
a. Competition with Professionals. As noted in the attachment, competing in a single professional contest subsequent to an individual's first opportunity to enroll in college will result in permanent ineligibility. This result is different than the current application of Bylaw 22.214.171.124.4.1 (Major Junior A Ice Hockey), which charges a season and requires an academic year of residence for competition on a Major Junior A team, considered professional under NCAA legislation. Please note that the penalty in Bylaw 126.96.36.199.4.1 establishes a minimum penalty as opposed to a maximum. Therefore, the Student-Athlete Reinstatement Committee can exceed that penalty; and in the case of competition on a Major Junior A team occurring after a prospect's first opportunity to enroll in college, the committee's penalty will exceed the penalty in the legislation.
In cases where a prospective student-athlete competes on a professional team prior to his/her first opportunity to enroll in college (e.g., during high school), the reinstate- ment condition will continue to be the application of Bylaw 188.8.131.52.4.1 and an additional one-for-one withholding condition for every professional contest in which the prospect participates, provided the prospect did not sign a professional contract or accept any form of compensation. Thus, specific to professional competition, a critical consideration for coaches to consider during the recruiting process is when the prospective student-athlete actually engaged in the professional competition. If the competition occurred prior to the individual's first opportunity to enroll in college, the consequence is different than if the competition occurred after the individual's first opportunity to enroll in college as determined by the individual's expected high-school graduation date.
Expected High-School Graduation Date
The determination of a prospective student-athlete's first opportunity to enroll in college is based on his/her expected high-school graduation date. (Expected high- school graduation is based on the date established by the Foreign Students Records Committee, as published in the April 23, 2001, edition of The NCAA News.)
Situation #3 Prospective student-athlete attends a Major Junior A hockey camp. The prospect does NOT sign any type of contract. He stays for 72 hours and plays in one exhibition (preseason) game. The competition occurs during the prospect's senior year in high school.
Eligibility Status: Since the competition occurred during the prospect's senior year in high school, it is important to verify that the prospect is graduating with his expected class. Assuming that the prospect is a legitimate high-school senior, the prospect would be charged with one season and not be eligible for competition during his first year in residence at the institution. Then, the reinstatement condition would require that the prospect would miss the first collegiate contest of his second year at the institution, assuming he did not violate any other amateurism rules. The key issue to determine is when the competition occurred in relation to the prospect's first opportunity to enroll in college as determined by his expected high-school graduation date.
Regarding the issue of expenses, the only time expenses are permissible from a professional team are for a tryout prior to full-time collegiate enrollment, provided the tryout does not last longer than 48 hours. A self-financed tryout may be for any length of time; however, if a game (including preseason and exhibition contests) against another team occurs during a tryout and the prospect represents the Major Junior A team, then the eligibility consequences described above still apply.
Situation #4 Prospective student-athlete graduates from high school in May 2001 and then attends a Major Junior A hockey camp subsequent to his first opportunity to enroll. He stays at the camp for 72 hours and plays in one exhibition game.
Eligibility Status: Since the competition occurred after the prospect's first opportunity to enroll in college, he will be deemed permanently ineligible.
Summary of Analysis for Professional Competition
The first question to ask the prospective student-athlete is when did he graduate from high school?
Assuming that the prospect graduated at his expected time from high school, the second question to ask is did the competition occur before or after the prospect's first opportunity to enroll in college? For example, if the prospect graduated from high school in May 2003 and competed in an exhibition game in October 2003, the game occurred after the prospect's first opportunity to enroll in college, which would have been August 2003.
If the prospect did not graduate at his expected time from high school because he discontinued full-time high-school enrollment to compete on a professional team, then the expected high-school graduation date must be determined. Based on the expected high-school graduation date, the prospect's first opportunity to enroll in college must be determined. Finally, the coach must then determine whether the professional competition occurred before or after the prospect's first opportunity to enroll in college.
b. Professional Contract. As noted in the attachment, if an individual signs a professional contract (at any time, including while in high school) the action will result in permanent ineligibility unless the institution is able to present overwhelming mitigation. A contract with a Major Junior A team is considered a professional contract per NCAA legislation.
Situation #5 Prospective student-athlete signs a contract to play for a Major Junior A team, attends one day of training camp (and does not play in a preseason game) and decides he does not want to play Major Junior hockey.
Eligibility Status: Permanent ineligibility.
As noted in the attachment, the directive applies to all student-athletes initially enrolling at an NCAA institution on or after August 1, 2003. Any questions regarding issues in this memorandum should be directed to Julie Roe or Jennifer Strawley at the NCAA national office 317-917-6222.