Frequently Asked Questions for Boosters in PDF Format
BOOSTER & PROSPECT CONCEPTS:
Q: What is a representative of Texas A&M’s athletic interests (commonly known as a booster)?
A: A representative of Texas A&M University's athletics interests (commonly known as a "booster") is one who:
- Has made a donation to Texas A&M or 12th Man Foundation (including donating money for priority season tickets, gifts of cash, goods, or services),
- Is or has been a member of a booster organization associated with Texas A&M Athletics, (for example the 12th Man Foundation, Maroon Club, Quarterback Club, Dugout Club, Blair’s Buddies, etc.) OR
- Has been involved in any way with promoting Texas A&M’s athletic programs.
Q: Is Texas A&M responsible for the actions of its boosters and booster groups?
A: Yes. Texas A&M is responsible for the conduct and actions of its boosters and all organizations that promote the institution’s athletic programs; therefore, it is A&M’s responsibility to educate boosters and other organizations about basic NCAA rules, monitor their actions involving current and prospective student-athletes, and encourage them to ask before they act. If a violation of NCAA rules occurs, even unintentionally, it may jeopardize a prospect's or current student-athlete's eligibility. For example, if you were to contact prospective student-athletes and tell them they should attend A&M, you would be an A&M booster; Texas A&M would be held responsible for your actions, and the prospect’s eligibility at A&M would be jeopardized. Generally, boosters are not allowed to be involved in athletics recruiting in any manner.
Q: When does an individual become a prospect?<
A: A prospect is any student who has entered the ninth grade (seventh grade for men’s basketball camps and clinics) and above, including students in prep schools, junior colleges, and individuals who have officially withdrawn from four-year schools. In addition, a student who has not yet started the specified grade may become a prospect if Texas A&M or a booster provides the student, or the student's relatives or friends, with financial assistance or benefits not generally provided to other students or the general public.
Q: Can a booster provide a benefit to a prospective or current student-athlete?
A: Boosters are prohibited from providing any type of benefit to a current or prospective student-athlete unless specifically allowed by NCAA rules. NCAA Bylaw 188.8.131.52.6 prohibits preferential treatment, benefits or services because of the individual's athletics reputation or skill or pay-back potential as a professional athlete unless such treatment, benefits or services are specifically permitted under NCAA legislation. For example, NCAA rules allow boosters to provide a meal to current student-athletes on an occasional basis as long as the meal occurs in the booster’s home. Booster should seek prior approval from the Office of Athletic Compliance at Texas A&M.
Q: What if the booster has an established or preexisting relationship with the athlete?
A: One of only a few exceptions to the preferential treatment and extra benefit rule is when there is a clear preexisting relationship between the booster and the student-athlete. In order to determine whether a preexisting relationship exists and whether certain benefits, gifts, and services are permissible, the following objective guidelines are used:
- Did the relationship between the athlete (or the athlete's parents) and the individual providing the benefit(s) develop as a result of the athlete's participation in athletics or notoriety related to athletics participation?
- Did the relationship between the athlete (or the athlete's parents) and the individual providing the benefit(s) predate the athlete's status as a prospective student-athlete?
- Did the relationship between the athlete (or the athlete's parents) and the individual providing the benefit(s) predate the athlete's status achieved as a result of his or her athletics ability or reputation?
- Was the pattern of benefits provided by the individual to the athlete (or the athlete's parents) prior to the athlete attaining notoriety as a skilled athlete similar in nature to those provided after attaining such stature?
When an individual and institution can support an answer of “no” to (a) and “yes” to (b)-(d), a preexisting relationship can be asserted.
Q: What if a relationship does not meet all four of the above prongs? For example, what if the relationship developed as a result of athletics?
A: In addition to the preexisting relationship analysis, the NCAA’s guidance indicates that while the above guidelines are a starting point for an analysis of a preexisting relationship, the origin and duration of a relationship and the consistency of benefits provided during the relationship are key factors in determining whether the benefits provided would be considered preferential treatment or an extra benefit.
Furthermore, prior to initial full-time collegiate enrollment, a prospective student-athlete may receive normal and reasonable living expenses from an individual with whom the student-athlete has an established relationship (e.g., high school coach, non-scholastic athletics team coach, family of a teammate), even if the relationship developed as a result of athletics participation, provided:
- The individual is not an agent,
- The individual is not an athletic representative of a particular institution involved in recruiting the prospect, and
- Such living expenses are consistent with the types of expenses provided by the individual as a part of normal living arrangements (e.g., housing, meals, occasional spending money, use of the family car).
Furthermore, a current student-athlete who, prior to initial collegiate enrollment, has been receiving normal and reasonable living expenses from an individual with whom he or she has an established relationship may continue to receive occasional benefits (e.g., meals during campus visits, reasonable entertainment) from an individual or family with whom the student-athlete has an established relationship. Such expenses may not include educational expenses associated with a grant-in-aid (i.e., tuition and fees, room and board, and required course-related books). However, it must be noted that the scenario described above does not apply to individuals who have no logical ties to the prospect.
Please contact the Texas A&M Athletic Compliance Office PRIOR to providing a benefit of any kind to a current or prospective student-athlete and for questions regarding the above information.
Q: What is recruiting?
A: Recruiting is any solicitation of a prospect or a prospect’s parent/legal guardian for the purpose of securing the prospect’s enrollment at Texas A&M and/or participation in Texas A&M’s athletics programs.
Recruiting activities may include (but are not limited to) letters, e-mails, faxes, telephone conversations, in-person contacts (both on and off campus) and social networking websites such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.
Q: Can a booster recruit for Texas A&M Athletics?
A: No, only coaches and Athletic Department staff members may be involved in the recruiting process. NCAA rules specifically prohibit boosters from engaging in recruiting activities. As a booster, you may not have contact with a prospect or the prospect’s family on or off campus. If a prospect approaches you regarding Texas A&M, please explain that NCAA rules prevent you from discussing Texas A&M athletics with him or her. This prohibition also applies to prospects making official visits to Texas A&M. Furthermore, you may not contact another institution’s student-athletes for the purpose of encouraging them to transfer to Texas A&M.
Q: Is it permissible for a booster to telephone or correspond with prospects once they have committed to, or signed a National Letter of Intent with Texas A&M for the purpose of congratulating them?
A: No. Even if the purpose of the call/correspondence is only to congratulate the prospect, he/she is still a prospect and contact rules continue to apply after committing or signing with an institution.
Q: Is it permissible for a booster to communicate with prospects and their families, whether in person or in writing to give them advice on choosing a college athletics program?
A: Generally, no. If a prospective student-athlete wrote or called you, you would be allowed to respond in writing or take the phone call and answer questions about the university that do not relate to athletics. Questions about athletics should be referred to a member of the coaching staff.
Q: Can a booster interact with a prospective student-athlete through Facebook, MySpace or any other social networking site?
A: No. A booster should not have any type of interaction with a prospective student-athlete through social network sites or forums.
Q: Are there any exceptions to having contact with a prospect?
A: Generally, no. Prospective student-athletes may not be contacted until they become student-athletes at Texas A&M. However, contacts between a prospect and a booster regarding permissible pre-enrollment activities such as discussions about legitimate summer employment opportunities with a booster’s business can occur only after the prospect has signed a National Letter of Intent.
Q: At what point do prospective student-athletes become student-athletes at Texas A&M?
A: An individual remains a prospective student-athlete until one of the following occurs (whichever is earlier):
- The individual officially registers and enrolls in a minimum full-time program of studies and attends classes in any term of a four-year collegiate institution’s (for example Texas A&M) regular academic year (excluding summer); or
- The individual participates in a regular squad practice or competition at a four-year collegiate institution that occurs before the beginning of any term; or
- The individual officially enrolls and attends classes during the summer prior to initial enrollment.
Q: Is it permissible for a booster to reimburse the coach of a prospect for transportation expenses incurred when the coach brings the prospect to A&M for a campus visit?
A: No. This would be an impermissible benefit and may not be provided.
Q: Is it permissible for a booster to provide transportation to or from campus or free admission to an athletics event on or off Texas A&M’s campus to prospects, their friends or relatives?
A: No. This is an improper benefit and would jeopardize the prospect’s eligibility.
Q: Can a booster take a prospect or younger individual to a Texas A&M athletic event?
A: This is a common question we receive, so here is a scenario. A booster who has a prospect-aged son would like to bring his son and his son’s friend (also a prospect and potential Aggie recruit) to an Aggie football game at Kyle Field. The father has indicated that he has known his son’s friend since the two boys were in pre-school and that he has provided his son’s friends with tickets and travel to Aggie home games for the past several years. The father further indicated that once in Aggieland, he may take his son and his son’s friend to visit with friends and family at a pre-game tailgate. In this scenario, taking the prospect to the game and tailgate would be permissible provided:
- The father has a pre-existing relationship with his son’s friend;
- The father’s relationship with the prospective student-athlete did not originate in athletics; In this example, it appears it originated in his son’s friendship;
- The father did not arrange the proposed benefits, his son did;
- The father provides only benefits that he has previously and consistently provided to his son’s friends, irrespective of athletic ability, for several years; and
- Neither the father nor his friends or family solicit the prospective student-athlete’s participation in athletics at Texas A&M. The last item is necessary due to NCAA rules that preclude boosters from soliciting the enrollment of a prospect to Texas A&M. If you would like to bring an individual to a game who is a prospective student-athlete and you are still unsure if doing so would violate NCAA rules, please contact the Athletic Compliance office.
Q: May a booster drive a prospective student-athlete with whom he has no logical ties or pre-existing relationship to a game?
A: No. It is not permissible for a booster to transport a prospect to a Texas A&M game. The only persons who may transport a prospective student-athlete to a game are his/her parent, family members, friends, or coach.
Q: Is it permissible for a booster to pay, in whole or in part, registration fees associated with sports camps?
A: No. Boosters may not pay fees associated with sports camps on behalf of a prospective student-athlete.
Q: May boosters send newspaper clippings and other information about prospects that they feel may be important to the coaching staff?
A: Yes. Boosters may reach out to Texas A&M coaches regarding a prospective student-athlete, but a booster may not reach out to the prospective student-athlete about playing for the institution.
Q: As a booster, may I wear Texas A&M apparel to local high school events?
A: Of course. Always feel free to proudly wear your maroon and white to local high school events.
EXTRA BENEFIT ISSUES:
Q: What is an extra benefit? What are some examples?
A: An extra benefit is any special arrangement to provide a student-athlete or the student-athlete’s relatives or friends with a benefit not authorized by NCAA rules. The NCAA allows Texas A&M to provide student-athletes with the following: scholarships to cover tuition, fees, room, board and books; a limited number of complimentary admissions to Aggie athletic events; practice or competition-related apparel; travel; equipment; medical treatment and much more. It is a violation of NCAA rules for a student-athlete to receive benefits not authorized under NCAA guidelines unless the same benefit is available to a segment of a population unrelated to athletics or to all Texas A&M students or their parents/guardians.
Examples of Extra Benefits a Booster CANNOT provide:
- Cash or gifts.
- The use of personal property (e.g., boats, summer houses/condos, automobiles).
- A special discount arrangement or credit on a purchase (e.g. airline tickets, clothing).
- Arranging, providing, or co-signing on a loan.
- Providing any kind of transportation or the use of a car.
- Gifts of food, clothing or equipment.
- Arranging or providing free or reduced cost professional services (e.g., free dental or medical services, haircuts, automotive services, laundry, dry cleaning)
- The use of a telephone or telephone credit card for free long distance calls.
- Entertainment or the purchase of meals or services at commercial establishments.
- An invitation to play on your country club golf course or eat a meal there.
- A benefit connected with off-campus housing that is not available to all residents (e.g., television sets, electronic equipment, room furnishings, and specialized recreational facilities).
- Room, board, or transportation costs (including a stay in your home or transportation to or from a job).
- Typing or incurring other costs associated with school projects, reports, or resumes.
- Financial rewards for athletic performance.
- An honorarium or fee for a speaking engagement or other appearance.
- A guarantee of a bond.
- Giving tickets to a student-athlete to a Texas A&M or community athletic event (e.g., state high school basketball tournament tickets; high school games, collegiate, professional or any sporting event).
- A benefit derived by a student-athlete who sells complimentary tickets to a Texas A&M event.
- Arranging or providing free or reduced cost housing.
- Arranging or providing employment for a student-athlete's parents, guardians or friends.
Q: Can a booster lend his or her phone to a prospective or currently enrolled student-athlete in order for the athlete to make a phone call or send a text message?
A: No, it is not permissible for a booster to lend a prospective or enrolled student-athlete a cell phone to make a call or send a text message.
Q: Can boosters fundraise or donate money to send a student-athlete’s parents to an athletic contest?
A: No. Under NCAA rules and regulations, such activity may jeopardize the student-athlete’s eligibility.
Q: Is it permissible for a booster to provide gifts or awards to student-athletes for their athletics performance?
A: No. All awards must conform to NCAA awards legislation and must be approved by Texas A&M
Q: As a booster, can I give a student-athlete Christmas and/or birthday presents?
A: No. A representative of athletics interests (booster) is strictly prohibited from providing a student-athlete or prospective student-athlete with gifts, privileges or services that would be considered by the NCAA as an extra benefit. Generally, if the NCAA does not authorize the special arrangement of a particular benefit, the benefit may not be provided. If however, a booster is invited by a current or former student-athlete to attend his/her wedding and the booster can demonstrate that he/she provides such gifts to all the weddings he or she attends, and the gift is consistent with the type of gifts normally given, then it would be permissible to provide a wedding gift.
APPEARANCES, AUTOGRAPHS AND OTHER AMATEURISM ISSUES:
Q: May a student-athlete make a public appearance at a business establishment for purposes of signing autographs?
Q: At what types of organizations would it be permissible for a student-athlete to speak and/or appear?
A: It is permissible for a student-athlete to participate in promotional activities, including speaking, at a charitable, educational, or non-profit organization’s functions. Approval for the student-athlete to be involved in non-institutional activities must be obtained from the Athletics Compliance Office prior to the event. Please contact the Athletics Compliance Office for further details.
Q: Can a booster pay a student-athlete to speak at a booster club function?
A: No. It is not permissible for a student-athlete to receive compensation related to his or her speaking at an institutional athletics booster club function. However, it is permissible for student-athletes to accept legitimate and normal expenses that are directly related to their involvement with the booster club function (i.e., meals, transportation and lodging).
Q: Is it permissible for a Texas A&M booster club to invite high school coaches to its meetings? Can those high school coaches attend the meeting/luncheon for free?
A: No, it is not permissible for the booster club to invite high school coaches to its meeting unless the invitation is advertised and extended to all members of the public who are interested in attending. Any high school coach who does attend must pay any associated costs (i.e. price of admission or meal costs).
Q: Can a Texas A&M alumni organization invite Aggie athletics teams to social functions when the team is in the alumni organization’s locale for competition?
A: Yes. A team, when traveling and representing the university in competition, may participate in alumni functions. The alumni organization may provide a complimentary meal for each team member; however, no gifts, or awards may be provided to the student-athletes.
Q: Can a booster club or A&M Club use the appearance of a student-athlete for promotional purposes or the name, picture, uniform number, autograph of a student-athlete on promotional items (e.g., t-shirts, posters, hats, highlight tapes, etc.)?
A: Possibly. It is permissible for an athletic booster club to sell items that include the names, pictures or appearances of multiple student-athletes (not an individual) as long as the income from the items benefits the booster club. The items may not include trademarks or logos from a commercial agency or company that is co-sponsoring the activity. Please contact the Athletic Compliance Office and Texas A&M’s Office of Business Development (Email: email@example.com) for approval prior to creating and distributing such items.
Q: Can a booster follow a current student-athlete on Twitter, reply to a current student-athlete’s tweet, or tweet about a current student-athlete or TAMU athletic team?
A: Yes, a booster can follow a current student-athlete on Twitter, reply to a current student-athlete’s tweet, or tweet generally about a current student-athlete or team. However, boosters should refrain from tweeting about prospective student-athletes.
Q: May a booster use Texas A&M game footage or photographs of student-athletes in any commercial advertisements?
A: No. Do not attempt to use game footage or photographs of our student-athletes in any commercial advertisements without first contacting Texas A&M Athletics.
Q: May a booster sell a picture personally taken of a student-athlete?
A: Current NCAA rules do not permit an individual or agency (e.g., private photographer, news agency) to sell photographs of student-athletes with remaining eligibility for private use. Rather, NCAA rules merely relieve the student-athlete (or the institution acting on behalf of the student-athlete) from the obligation to take steps (e.g., send a cease and desist request) to stop such an activity in order to retain his or her eligibility for intercollegiate athletics.
However, if a student-athlete's name or picture appears on any other commercial items or is used to promote a commercial product or service, the student-athlete (or the institution acting on behalf of the student-athlete) is required to take steps (e.g., send a cease and desist request) to stop such an activity in order to preserve the athlete’s eligibility for intercollegiate athletics. Provided the student-athlete did not grant approval for such use, the student-athlete’s eligibility is not affected provided the cease and desist letter is processed.
Sending such a cease and desist order is, in the NCAA’s view, unnecessary inasmuch as legal precedent affords individuals and agencies the right to sell photographs for private use.
Q: May boosters pay student-athletes for lessons in the student-athlete’s sport?
A: Yes, provided:
- No Texas A&M athletic facilities are used during the lesson.
- The student-athlete is compensated at a rate that other individuals would be for providing the same lesson. Do not compensate a student-athlete based on his/her reputation, fame or personal following.
Q: Is it permissible for a group of Texas A&M former students to raise money for a contribution to Texas A&M to help fund 1) athletic scholarships for student-athletes who have exhausted their athletic eligibility and/or 2) athletic aid for student-athletes to attend summer school?
A: Yes and yes, but note:
- Student-athletes who have already received five years of athletic aid may not receive any unearned athletic aid from boosters or the institution.
- Student-athletes who have already received five summers of athletic aid may not receive any additional unearned summer athletic aid.
- Money may not be raised to support a specific student-athlete’s financial aid.
Q: What action should an athletic representative (booster) take, if he/she becomes aware of a rules violation?
A: The athletic representative should contact the Athletic Compliance Office to discuss the information pertinent to the potential violation. If the athletic representative wishes to remain anonymous, he/she can contact the Athletic Compliance Office to provide information without giving a name (http://www.aggieathletics.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=27300&ATCLID=205238247). The Athletic Compliance Department will review the information and process it as necessary. Another anonymous reporting option is EthicsPoint.com. (https://secure.ethicspoint.com/domain/en/report_custom.asp?clientid=20488)
Q: What can I do to help without breaking the rules?
A: You may continue to show your support by attending competitions and yelling for your fighting Texas Aggies. Additionally here are some of the other things that are permissible.
You may continue to have contact with an established family friend or neighbor who is a prospect. However, such contact may not be for recruiting purposes and may not be initiated by a Texas A&M coaching staff member.
You may bring outstanding prospects to the attention of the Texas A&M coaching staff by sending them newspaper clippings or other information about prospects. However, you may not be involved in the actual evaluation of talent. All evaluations and contacts are the sole responsibility of the Texas A&M coaching staff.
You may attend prospects’ athletic contests on your own initiative, provided no contact is made with the prospects or their families.
You may continue any involvement you may have with local youth sports organizations that may include prospects, provided you do not solicit a prospect’s participation in Texas A&M Athletics.
You may employ an enrolled student-athlete. Student-athletes may be compensated only for work actually performed and at a rate commensurate with the going rate in the area for similar services. Furthermore, remember that no benefits or services should be provided to employed student-athletes which are not available to all your employees. Please contact Shalena Brown at 979-845-3945 or firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss employment opportunities you may have available for student-athletes.
You may provide an "occasional" meal at your home for a student-athlete or an entire team if you live in the Bryan/College Station area. You may also provide transportation to your home for the meal. Or, you may "host" a team meal in regularly used athletic dining facilities on campus. Please remember that all occasional meals must be approved in advance by the Athletic Compliance Office.