This morning, HerLoyalSons is privileged to turn the page over, as it were, to Jen Vining-Smith, who is Notre Dame’s Associate Athletics Director, Compliance. With National Signing Day right around the corner, compliance issues abound and I thought it would be great for a guru like Jen to weigh in on two of the most often discussed: midyear enrollees and contacting recruits. I was honored that Jen agreed to take time out of her
Netflix and chill busy schedule and pen the following:
It’s Friday night. Kids are in bed. Couch and TV all to myself. What should I do with myself?! Write a piece for HLS to drop some education of course! Spoken like a true compliance nerd (which I happen to be). So here it is folks, my contribution to you degenerates…I mean loyal fans of Our Lady.
I know compliance is a riveting topic and something you all are really passionate about, however, I was asked to limit this particular piece to two main components: 1) midyear enrollees – how they count toward scholarship limits, etc. 2) communicating with prospects via social media. I’ll do my best to stay within those limits, but I have so much knowledge inside this brain of mine it might be hard to stop (read…I may not hit my word minimum on just those two topics).
So let’s start with the one that is the easier of the two and the one that I really hate to give away the secret. I would be lying if I said I don’t enjoy watching you all try to figure out our scholarship count every year. To be fair, it’s not the easiest thing in the world, particularly when you (the public) only have partial information. When counting a midyear, you are looking at 2 counting limits: the overall team counter limitation (85) and the initial counter limit (25).
A midyear enrollee ALWAYS counts toward the 85 in the year he enrolls. The question is how the team has room. If the team used 82 scholarships for the year prior to signing 5 midyear enrollees, 3 of those are just absorbed into the 85 (scholarship #’s 83, 84, and 85). In order to sign the additional 2, there has to be 2 individuals graduating at the end of fall semester OR a 5th year graduate student who has now exhausted eligibility but graduated the previous year. The two midyear enrollees in this situation are called midyear replacements. And voilà…we are still at our max of 85 scholarships.
The second part of the puzzle is what year to count midyear enrollees for initial counter purposes. In the scenario above, the first 3 scholarships must count in the current year. Those that are actually considered midyear replacements can be counted in the current year (if there is room in the 25 limit) or the following year.
When I said the first topic was the easier of the two, I simply meant the legislation is very specific and prescriptive. This next topic….not so much.
First let’s start by actually stating the NCAA rules that are applicable in the area of boosters reaching out to prospects. In simple terms, the rule states that all recruiting contact/correspondence shall be made ONLY by authorized staff members. It goes on to specifically state that boosters are prohibited from face to face recruiting contact, telephone calls and all forms of written correspondence.
One question that is always asked of us is “what is a booster?” The NCAA’s definition is this: a booster is an individual, independent agency, corporate entity or other organization who is known by the athletics department to:
a) Be or have been in an agency/organization promoting the athletics program;
b) Made financial contributions to the athletics department or to be an athletics booster
c) Be assisting or have been requested (by an athletics department staff member) to assist in the recruitment of prospects;
d) Be assisting or having assisted in providing benefits to enrolled student-athletes or their families; or
e) Have been involved in otherwise promoting the athletics program.
Many of you will read this list and think you are in the clear, so you can tweet away at recruits. Wrong. Once you try aiding in the recruitment of a prospect you become a booster and that puts you on the hook for a whole host of other rules. Aiding in the recruitment can be as simple as sending a tweet that says “We need you in S. Bend, pick us!” The definition of a booster is interpreted in different ways based on its vague wording and you might just trigger one of the categories. So as I’ve stated many times….leave the recruiting to our coaches. That’s what they get paid for. And let’s be honest, it’s creepy when you guys do it.
If there’s any remaining confusion on whether or not you should tweet at a recruit, please see the flow chart my friends at Tulane put together illustrating the point. [Ed note: The flow chart was actually made by Gray Hardison (@BellyofTheBeast), but Jen is forgiven for not knowing that.]
In all seriousness, I think, for the most part, our fan base does a pretty good job of trying to do things the right way. But you don’t know what you don’t know, so that’s what our office is for. If you ever have a compliance question, you can easily get in contact with someone from my office, please reach out!
Associate Athletics Director – University of Notre Dame
Athletics Compliance Office