The NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions (COI) has announced an infractions decision for violations of the NCAA’s name, image, and likeness (NIL) and recruiting rules in the Florida State football program. The conduct in question stems from an assistant coach facilitating a meeting between a prospective transfer student-athlete and an NIL collective affiliated with the institution.
This is the NCAA’s second NIL-related enforcement action. In February of 2023, the NCAA announced an infractions case involving the University of Miami women’s basketball team. Like the Florida State case, the Miami case involved a booster discussing NIL deals with prospective student-athletes.
This case was adjudicated through the NCAA’s Negotiated Resolution process. The Negotiated Resolution process is utilized when the parties (here, the NCAA enforcement staff, Florida State University, and the assistant football coach) all agree on the facts, violations, and appropriate penalties. There is thus no contested hearing before the COI and the case carries no precedential value for future cases. A Negotiated Resolution is akin to a plea bargain, where a defendant pleads guilty and foregoes a jury trial, usually in exchange for a lesser penalty.
The Rules Violations
The parties agreed that the assistant football coach and NIL collective engaged in impermissible recruiting activities. During the prospective transfer student-athlete’s official visit to Florida State, the assistant football coach organized a meeting between the athlete and the NIL collective’s CEO. At that meeting, the collective’s CEO offered the athlete $15,000 per month in exchange for transferring to Florida State. Importantly, the NCAA prohibits NIL deals being offered to an athlete when the deal is contingent upon their attendance at a particular school. The assistant coach further violated NCAA rules by providing false or misleading information to NCAA enforcement staff members during their investigation of the underlying recruiting violations.
The penalties associated with this case are more significant than the penalties associated with the Miami case. In addition to the financial penalty, recruiting restrictions, and scholarship reductions assessed to Florida State, the parties agreed to a show-cause order for the assistant football coach. Moreover, the NCAA is requiring Florida State to disassociate with the NIL collective and its CEO for periods of one and three years, respectively. In the Miami case, the disassociation penalty was not applied to the booster involved in the rules violations.
No Penalties for Violations of Head Coach Responsibility Legislation
In the NCAA infractions process, head coaches are presumed responsible for violations that occur in their programs. Head coach responsibility violations are rebuttable, through a showing that the head coach promoted an atmosphere for compliance and effectively monitored his or her staff. Here, the enforcement staff agreed with the institution that a head coach responsibility violation had not occurred, and no corrective action was taken against Florida State head coach Mike Norvell. It is possible that the lack of penalties assessed to Norvell was a key factor in Florida State agreeing to the underlying violations and accepting the penalties assessed through the Negotiated Resolution process (i.e., the benefit of their plea bargain).
For businesses, boosters, and collectives that are looking to work with student-athletes on NIL deals, it is paramount to ensure that all contact with the student-athlete and the details of the agreement are compliant with any relevant NIL laws, rules, or policies. Working with experienced counsel can help ensure the student-athlete’s continued eligibility and help their current or prospective university continue to comply with all applicable rules and laws.
The post NCAA Finds NIL Rules Violations in Florida State Football Program appeared first on Frieser Legal | Sports Law | NIL.