Utica, NY asked in Entertainment / Sports for New York

Q: Is there a law that governs college scholarship contract provisions regarding behavior or conduct outside of athletics?

What can a team prevent athletes from doing on their own time?

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1 Lawyer Answer

Gregory J. Tarone

Answered
  • Entertainment & Sports Law Lawyer
  • Newburgh, NY
  • Licensed in New York

A: Yes, and no, and to a certain extent it depends on the institution providing the scholarship and what the rule is. There is no specific "law" for it. That is, no state or federal statutes that apply. Scholarships are contracts governing the rights of the parties -- and that is where you begin to ascertain what regulatory bodies have authority over student-athlete conduct outside their athletic roles. Most student-athlete scholarships are provided by member institutions of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), so its By-Laws and rules will certainly apply, and so too will the specific institution's student-athlete handbook or other specific rules and regulations of that institution and it Athletic Department or team coach. NCAA compliance forms are available at www.NCAA.org and for Division 1 student-athletes their contract with the NCAA is its “Form 18-1a – the Student-Athlete Statement.” The student bodies of the respective NCAA institution, not the NCAA, reviews and sets standards for student-athletes' conduct, though, as provided in its student-athletic handbook or athletic department handbook, which may delegate authority to a team coach to make team rules. Those “team rules” must comply with all the internal institution rules and regulations as well as those of the NCAA and, as always, the country’s highest law -- the Constitution. Conduct, discipline, and team rules are all issues in a case of mine involving a female student-athlete using her middle finger in celebration as post-game field conduct that does not violate any specific "law," rule or regulation, but rather, was Constitutional and a women’s soccer team head coach arbitrarily and unilaterally determined what the standard was for “serious misconduct” at UConn so he could take away a player’s scholarship in the middle of the academic year. See Radwan v. UConn et al. at Justia.com: https://dockets.justia.com/docket/connecticut/ctdce/3:2016cv02091/115246 or www.NorianasVoice.org

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