The NCAA strictly prohibits its collegiate athletes from receiving any kind of payment for their sports-related activities, including for activities like selling autographs. As a result, collegiate athletes often struggle financially, even if they are considered superstars.
If you are a basketball player looking for college recruitment, you need to know the NCAA's rule on amateurism, the recent changes, and how these changes affect you.
NCAA Rules: The Past
If you were recruited to an NCAA basketball team before 2014, chances are, your standard of living was below the poverty line. Even athletes recruited for one of the NCAA's most widely-respected basketball teams, the Duke Blue Devils, lived just $732 above the poverty level; however, their average $1,995 scholarship shortage offsets this miniscule amount.
As a result, collegiate athletes faced financial hardships and scrutiny for any type of gift or payment received. Many even turned to welfare to make ends meet.
NCAA Rules: Today
In August, 2014, both a federal court and the NCAA itself changed these stringent rules. First, a judge ruled that NCAA's rules on commercial endorsements that used athletes' names, likenesses, and images violated anti-trust laws. Second, NCAA members voted to allow individual colleges to give bigger scholarships and additional money for necessary living expenses. Yet, as a potential collegiate recruit, you might feel that these changes only serve to confuse the situation even more. The changes may seem negligible.
So, what does this mean for you?
If you are recruited to an NCAA basketball team today, the NCAA still requires you to remain in amateur athlete status. You cannot receive payment for your athletic performances, recruit an agent, interact with professional teams, or receive extra money that is beyond what will pay for your necessary expenses.
Your college can, however, take greater steps to ensure that you are not struggling to pay for your basic needs, like food and housing, with extra scholarship money and stipends. Your college can also pay for your relevant expenses, like workout clothes and on-the-road accommodations. Thus, even though you cannot make money playing collegiate basketball, you are less likely to maintain a standard of living that is below the federal poverty line.
During the recruitment process, you can use this information as leverage. If two schools are competing for you, strongly consider the scholarship package that each school is offering. You need to rationally assess whether the schools' offers will give you a decent quality of living during your collegiate basketball career and strongly factor this assessment in your final decision.
For more information about life as a college athlete, contact Hoops4Nations.