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NCAA Rules: A Guide for Ivy Alumni and Friends of Athletics

Ivy League alumni are proud of the standards of excellence in academics and athletics that are a tradition of each institution. Of equal value is the fact that student-athletes are full members of the student body, with no special privileges like athletic scholarships. In the Ivy League, conducting our programs with integrity is very important.

Please read the following to learn how you can help carry on this tradition.

College Athletics the Right Way:


As part of the team, you must know the rules of the game.

Carrying on the Ivy tradition of excellence is hard work, and competition among the best institutions is intense. Searching for a competitive edge is part of the challenge, and we know that you want to help your favorite institution and be part of a winning team. Meeting those challenges means playing by the rules. The NCAA has rules for coaches, players, and YOU!

NCAA Rule: Who is governed by the rules?

Members of an institution's staff, student-athletes, and other individuals and groups representing the institution's athletic interests shall comply with the Association rules, and the member institution shall be responsible for such compliance.

Interpretation: This means that the school you support is responsible for making sure that anyone involved with its athletics program knows the rules that apply to them. The school will be held accountable for any rule broken by anyone representing it.

NCAA Rule: Do NCAA rules apply to me?

You are considered a representative of your institution's athletic interests just by being an alumnus, friend or donor.

Interpretation: This means that any contact you have with current or prospective student-athletes at your institution can affect the eligibility of your institution's individual student-athletes and teams to compete in NCAA and Ivy competition.


All recruiting of prospective student-athletes must be done by institutional staff members.

NCAA Rule: Who is a "Prospect"?

A "prospect" is any student who has started classes for the ninth grade.

Interpretation: This means that recruiting any student who has started classes for the ninth grade is subject to NCAA rules.

NCAA Rule: Contacting Prospects

Representatives of an institution's athletic interests are prohibited from having any contact with prospective student-athletes.

Interpretation: You may not have contact with a prospect or his or her parents, on or off campus, in person, by telephone or in writing.

One Limited Exception: Student-athletes do not have to be treated differently than other applicants in the admissions process. If you are a member of your institution's Alumni Schools Committee and are assigned to interview students who are also athletes you may contact the student for these purposes, but for these purposes only! Alumni Schools Committee members may not have contact with prospects whom they are not assigned to interview.

Another Limited Exception: If a family friend or neighbor is a "prospect" then you may continue to maintain this relationship, however you may never have a recruiting conversation.


Prospective and enrolled student-athletes may not be given extra benefits.

NCAA Rule: What is an Extra Benefit?

An extra benefit includes the provision of any transportation, meals, housing, clothes, service, entertainment, or other benefit not available to all students who are not athletes.

Interpretation: This means that under no circumstances may you provide an individual prospect or enrolled student-athlete with any of these benefits. You may never take an individual or small group of athletes or prospects to a restaurant for a meal. However, teams which are visiting your area for competition may be provided with meals while on a team trip.

Prospect's trips to campus must be financed by the athletic department under very specific guidelines, and invitations for such trips may only be made by coaches. Contact the Athletic Director if you would like to contribute to a fund which is used for this purpose.

One Limited Exception: You may invite enrolled student-athletes for a meal in your home, but not in a restaurant, however. This may be done only infrequently and on special occasions. It is also permissible for you to provide transportation to student-athletes to attend a meal in your home. Make sure you have the Athletic Director's permission before extending an invitation.


* Join a Friends Group /Sport Association

These groups provide support for teams through funding for special team trips, recruiting, and hosting receptions for teams at home and away contests. This is the best way to help your team of choice, and you'll be kept up to date on their progress throughout the year.

* Identify Outstanding Student-Athletes

If you know of outstanding student-athletes in your area, send information such as newspaper clippings to the coaches at your favorite institution, or give the coaches a call, and let them take it from there. Reminder -- You may not contact prospects directly, nor may you contact high school coaches or guidance counselors to get information onprospects, but there is no rule against attending their contests.

* Offer Assistance to the Coaching Staff

You may provide lodging, meals and transportation to coaches when they come to your community to contact and evaluate prospects.

* Provide Summer Jobs and Internships

If you know of positions in your business or community which might be filled by a student-athlete then contact the athletic director for names of those who might be qualified. Reminder -- The pay for these jobs must be at the going rate for that position.


The formal agreement which founded the Ivy League as an athletic conference was signed by the presidents of the eight institutions in February 1954. The basic intent of the original agreement was to improve and foster intercollegiate athletics while keeping the emphasis on such competition in harmony with the educational purpose of the institutions.

While football is where it started, the Ivy League now crowns champions in 33 sports and continues to sponsor intercollegiate programs of national prominence for women and men.

Ivy teams have enjoyed tremendous success in NCAA championships, winning recent national championships in several men's and women's sports, including field hockey, rowing, ice hockey, fencing, lacrosse and squash. Ivy champions in baseball, basketball, field hockey, lacrosse, soccer, softball and volleyball have automatic entries in the NCAA tournament, and teams in field hockey, lacrosse and soccer have reached the final four.

For further information on NCAA rules, especially those relating to contact between alumni and student-athletes or prospective student-athletes, please contact the athletic department of your institution.


Presidents' Statement from June 20, 2002:


At its regular spring meeting on June 17, 2002, the Council of Ivy Group Presidents took three actions that are designed to assure close adherence to the fundamental tenets of Ivy League athletics.

“The Council’s actions will continue the Ivy League tradition of strong athletic competition which is, in the words of the original 1954 Ivy Agreement, ‘kept in harmony with the essential purposes of [each Ivy League] institution,’” said Hunter R. Rawlings III, President of Cornell University and Chair of the Council.

These values are encapsulated in the first of the ten “Principles” adopted by the Council in 1979, on the 25th anniversary of the original Ivy Presidents’ agreement: “Intercollegiate athletics ought to be maintained within a perspective that holds paramount the academic programs of the institution and the academic and personal growth of the student athlete.”

In service of this principle, the Council has since the early 1980’s regulated the numbers of recruited student-athletes in certain sports at Ivy League schools, and limited the scope of permissible athletic activities more narrowly than do NCAA Division I regulations. The Council’s current actions build on this structure in three ways.

1. Beginning in fall 2002, each school will establish for each sport, periods of at least seven weeks during the academic year when intercollegiate athletes will have no required athletic activities and in which there will be no coaching supervision of voluntary conditioning or other athletic activities. These periods will supplement current Ivy restrictions, which include a prohibition on competition during examination periods, as well as significantly fewer practice sessions in ’non-traditional’ seasons than are permitted by all other Division I institutions.

2. Effective with the class of 2007, which will be admitted in 2002-03 and will matriculate in fall 2003, the number of students recruited to play football who may matriculate at any Ivy school in any four year period will be reduced from 140 to 120, a reduction in the annual average of such students from 35 to 30. Also effective in fall 2003, the number of institutional football coaches permitted under Ivy rules will change from 6 full-time and 6 part-time to 7 full-time and 3 part-time.

3. The Council will undertake further data collection and analysis, and review of Ivy policies, in response to its concern that the admission of recruited student-athletes to Ivy League institutions remains faithful to core Ivy League principles.

“The review that we are undertaking will strengthen our commitment to the opportunity for a positive Ivy League athletic experience, within the context -- and serving the goals -- of a liberal undergraduate education,” said President Rawlings.

Rawlings also noted that the Council of Presidents had benefited in its discussions from substantial efforts made by the Ivy League Directors of Athletics over the past year to produce recommendations in these areas, as the Council had requested in fall 2001.

The Ivy League was established by the Ivy Presidents’ Agreement in 1954 and began formal competition in the 1956-57 academic year. It is comprised of Brown, Columbia and Cornell Universities, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Princeton and Yale Universities.