NCAA Releases New Guidance On Boosters, NIL And Collectives, Threatening To Retroactively Punish

The NCAA has released new guidance on what it perceives as booster involvement within the NIL world of college athletics. Yes, it's pretty much the same phrasing that we've seen in previous years, but now they are retroactively looking into cases over the past ten months.

You are most likely asking yourself why any of this matters currently, especially with how little the NCAA said about this predicament last summer. Well, the NCAA decided to put out a set of guidelines that were vague and open for interpretation by 'collectives' and other NIL management groups.

I'll break it down very simply for you. Boosters are still not allowed to get involved in the recruitment of high school prospects or the transfer portal. That was easy, right? Not so fast says the NCAA, who will now go back in time and look at certain NIL agreements that might look a little fishy. Here's the statement released today from the committee.

"Today, the Division I Board of Directors took a significant first step to address some of the challenges and improper behaviors that exist in the name, image and likeness environment that may violate our long-established recruiting rules. While the NCAA may pursue the most outrageous violations that were clearly contrary to the interim policy adopted last summer, our focus is on the future. The new guidance establishes a common set of expectations for the Division I institutions moving forward, and the board expects all Division I institutions to follow our recruiting rules and operate within these reasonable expectations," said board chair Jere Morehead, president, University of Georgia.

But don't worry, the NCAA enforcement staff says they will only investigate deals that "clearly are contrary to the published interim policy, including the most severe violations of recruiting rules or payment for athletics performance," which was stated in the release today.

In a bold strategy by the NCAA, they did include in their statement that the guidelines set forth last year were 'interim' and that they would continue adding guidelines as they go. If you aren't catching on, the NCAA is saying they screwed up and would now love the opportunity to go back and take care of the ones who made them look foolish.

Good luck with that. If you think the NCAA will step into the ring and expect their opponent to just lay down, I know five lawyers right now that are ready for the NCAA's first punch. I am actually waiting for the first time the enforcement staff tries to come down on a player or school in regards to a deal. Only if the person that put together the deal for the student-athlete was absolutely horrible at their job should anything arise from this.

Here is the full release from the NCAA. 

If you are looking into how the NCAA defines a booster or even a collective, here is what they wrote in the release.

"Specifically, the guidance defines as a booster any third-party entity that promotes an athletics program, assists with recruiting or assists with providing benefits to recruits, enrolled student-athletes or their family members. The definition could include 'collectives' set up to funnel name, image and likeness deals to prospective student-athletes or enrolled student-athletes who might be considering transferring."

So, pretty much the same description of a booster as mentioned during the SMU case over thirty years ago.

I am not saying that everything you've read or seen over the past ten months was on the right side of the law. But, trying to go back and look into cases that the NCAA clearly knew would happen just wreaks of a 'gotcha' moment. There are antitrust lawsuits that the enforcement staff must worry about, along with the fact that they don't have enough people working on these cases. Clearly, you've seen this part over the last number of years as basketball programs have been running wild, while under 'investigation' by these same enforcement members.

This will be a test that the NCAA will have a hard time passing. Maybe they surprise a few folks and actually look into what they perceive as wrong, but my money is on the boosters and collectives until I am proven wrong. You better have something pretty concrete on a member institution if you plan on retroactively punishing them. Because if not, these lawyers are waiting for the call.

Written by
Trey Wallace is the host of The Trey Wallace Podcast that focuses on a mixture of sports, culture, entertainment along with his perspective on everything from College Football to the College World Series. Wallace has been covering college sports for 15 years, starting off while attending the University of South Alabama. He’s broken some of the biggest college stories including the Florida football "Credit Card Scandal" along with the firing of Jim McElwin and Kevin Sumlin. Wallace also broke one of the biggest stories in college football in 2020 around the NCAA investigation into recruiting violations against Tennessee football head coach Jeremy Pruitt. Wallace also appears on radio across seven different states breaking down that latest news in college sports.