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Boosters, Alumni & Fans

Dear Alums and Friends:

This section has been set up to educate representatives of athletics interests (i.e. boosters) and alumni about NCAA rules. Tennessee State University is grateful for all of the ways you contribute to the success of our athletics program. We would like to remind you to be cautious not to let enthusiasm for our programs lead us into conflict with the very specific rules and regulations of the NCAA. As an NCAA member institution, Tennessee State University is responsible for the actions of all individuals and entities involved in the promotion of its intercollegiate athletics program. A violation of NCAA rules by a representative of athletics interests can result in serious individual or institutional sanctions. Fans are often not aware the NCAA holds the university responsible for the actions of its fans, even the best-intentioned fans can unknowingly violate NCAA rules.

Please review this section and the website carefully. Following the rules will protect you, the university, and student-athletes from NCAA rules violations. The information in this section may not cover every question that arises; however, it is designed to give a general description and hopefully answer some specific questions. If you have any questions about NCAA rules, please contact the Tennessee State Athletics Compliance Office at (615) 963-5889. We greatly appreciate your support of Tiger Athletics.

Go Big Blue!
The Compliance Staff

Contact with Current Student-Athletes

Receipt by a student-athlete of an award, benefit or expenses allowance, not authorized by the NCAA renders the student-athlete ineligible for athletics competition.

An extra benefit is any special arrangement by an institutional employee or a representative of the institutions athletics interest to provide a student-athlete or the student-athlete's relative or friend a benefit not expressly authorized by NCAA legislation.

In general, boosters may not provide anything or make special arrangement for student-athletes (and prospective student-athletes) that are not available to the general student population. Examples of extra benefits not allowed by NCAA rules include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Providing cash or loans in any amount, or signing or co-signing for a loan.
  • Providing gifts of any kind, including birthday cards and holiday gifts.
  • Providing special discounts for goods and services (e.g., movie tickets, car repair, legal services, clothing, haircuts and dinners).
  • Providing the use of an automobile, telephone, etc.
  • Providing free or reduced rent or housing.
  • Providing honorariums for speaking engagements.
  • Providing student-athletes money for the exchange of complimentary tickets.

* Please note this is not an exhaustive list. Ask Before You Act!

As a representative of the institution's athletics interest, you are permitted to:

  • Provide only actual and necessary travel expenses to student-athletes for speaking to educational or charitable groups. All speaking engagements and charitable work must be approved in advance by the Compliance Office.
  • Invite an enrolled student-athlete or an entire team in a sport to his or her home for an occasional home meal under the following conditions:
    • The meal must be provided in an individual's home (as opposed to a restaurant) and may be catered.
    • Meals must be restricted to infrequent and special occasions (i.e. birthdays, holidays).
    • Institutional staff members may provide transportation to a student-athlete to attend such meals.
    • This occasional home meal must be approved in advance by the Compliance Office.

Important Terms To Know

Prospective Student-Athlete or "Prospect" - any student who has started classes for the ninth grade. The individual remains a prospect even after he/she has signed a National Letter of Intent or accepted an offer of admission or financial aid to attend Tennessee State University. A prospect becomes a current student-athlete only when he/she reports for preseason practice or the first day of fall classes, whichever occurs first.

Enrolled Student-Athlete - a student who is presently participating in athletics or has completed his or her eligibility but is still enrolled at the University.

Extra Benefit - Any special gift or arrangement by a Tennessee State University employee or booster provided to an enrolled student-athlete, prospect, or to their relatives or friends, which is not available to the general student body.

Contact - Any face to face encounter between a prospect or a prospect's parent or legal guardian and a University staff member or athletics representative during which any dialogue occurs in excess of a normal greeting.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below is a list of commonly asked questions that addresses many of the critical areas of compliance. If you have specific questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Compliance Office at (615) 963-5889.

Q: Who is a Representative of Tennessee State Athletics Interest?

A: You are a Representative of Athletics Interest (also known as a "Booster") if ANY of the following applies:

  • You are the parent or legal guardian of an enrolled student-athlete
  • You are a former student or fan of Tennessee State University
  • You are or have ever have been a season ticket holder
  • You are or have been any Club level member
  • You have made any financial contributions to Tennessee State University Athletics
  • You have participated in promoting the Tennessee State University athletics program
  • You have assisted or have been requested to assist in the recruitment of prospects.
  • You currently employ or have previously provided or helped arrange employment for enrolled student-athletes or prospective student-athletes who have signed a National Letter of Intent

Q: Is it possible to be become a booster without doing anything listed above?

A: Yes. The NCAA has developed a four-part test to determine whether or not an individual has become a booster and/or provided a student-athlete, their relatives or friends with an impermissible benefit. If any of the following statements are true then providing benefits to prospects or student-athletes, their relatives and friends can result in the student-athlete being rendered ineligible and cause the individual providing the benefit to be classified as a booster:

  • 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 thereto?
  • 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 and reputation?
  • Was the pattern of benefits provided by the individual to the athlete (or the athlete's parents) prior to the athletes attaining notoriety as a skilled athlete similar in nature to those provided after attaining such stature?

If you answer NO to question 1, and YES to questions 2, 3, and 4, then there is an established relationship with the athlete. However, if you answer differently for any of these four questions, then by NCAA rules, there is NO pre-existing relationship and thus it is impermissible for you to provide any preferential treatment, benefits, or services tot that athlete.

Q: Once an individual has been identified as a "Booster", how long does he/she retain this identity?

A: Forever.

Q. Is Tennessee State University responsible for the actions of its representatives and their support groups?

A: Yes. Tennessee State University is subject to penalties for all violations committed by any athletic representative or support organization because boosters are governed by the same NCAA and institutional rules and regulations as those placed upon all intuitional athletics staff members.

Q: Can a booster contact high school coaches or guidance counselors directly regarding a prospective student-athlete?

A: No. This contact would constitute recruiting.

Q: If only TSU coaches, athletic department, and/or institutional staff members may recruit a prospect, how may a booster help?

A: A booster may:

  • Attend as many athletic contests as you desire to evaluate talent
  • Call, write, or send newspaper articles to the TSU coaching staff regarding outstanding student-athletes in his/her area
  • Feel free to offer assistance to members of the coaching staff who are recruiting in his/her community

Q: As a booster, if I attend a prospect's athletic event, may I talk to the prospect's coach after the event?

A: No. A booster may not contact the coach, the prospect or family members, the principal or counselor in an attempt to evaluate a prospect.

Q: What if a booster attends an athletic event and finds himself/herself sitting next to the parents of the prospect?

A: Do not initiate conversation with the relatives. If conversation is initiated with the booster, respond in a civil manner but do not discuss Tennessee State Athletics Program with them. If they ask questions about the program, remind them that the NCAA prohibits a booster from discussing the program with them. Encourage the family to contact the Tennessee State University Athletic Department directly.

Q: As a booster, may I visit the prospect's school to pick up transcripts or videotape/film to send to a college coach?

A: No. A booster may not visit the prospect's school to pick up transcripts or videotapes/film pertaining to the evaluation of the prospect's academic or athletic ability.

Q: May a prospect call a booster?

A: Yes. A booster may have a telephone conversation with a prospect only if the prospect initiates the call. The telephone call may not be prearranged by an institutional staff member, and the booster is not permitted to have a recruiting conversation with the prospect but may exhibit normal civility. The booster must refer any questions about the institution's athletics program to the athletics department staff.

Q: May boosters entertain relatives and friends of a prospective student-athlete at any site off- campus?

A: No.

Q: May a booster make a contact with a prospect and/or his or her guardian during an official or unofficial visit to campus?

A: No.

Q: Is it permissible for a booster to pay costs incurred by an athletics talent scout in studying or recruiting a prospect?

A: No.

Q: Is it permissible for a booster to provide free admission to Tennessee State University's away contests to prospects, their relatives, or friends?

A: No.

Q: Is it permissible for a booster to pay in whole or in part the registration fees for summer sports camps?

A: No.

Q: Is it permissible for a booster to be involved in the on-campus entertainment of a prospect and/or his or her guardian during an official or unofficial visit?

A: No.

Q: During the recruitment of a prospect or prior to a prospect's enrollment, may a booster be involved directly or indirectly in making arrangements for a prospect, the prospect's relatives or friends to receive money, financial aid or equivalent inducements regardless if similar financial aid, benefits or arrangements are available to prospective students in general, their relatives or friends?

A: No. Other types of inducements that are prohibited include, but are not limited to:

  • the use of an automobile;
  • signing or cosigning a note for a loan;
  • special discounts or payment arrangements on loan;
  • cash or tangible items (e.g., clothes, cars, jewelry, stereo equipment, even a soft drink);
  • the promise of employment after college;
  • an employment arrangement for a prospect's relatives or friend;
  • purchase of items or services from a prospect or the prospect's family at inflated prices;
  • free or reduced -cost housing arrangements;
  • free or reduced-cost services or rentals of any type;
  • the promise of financial aid for post graduate education;
  • the promise to pay or arrange payment of transportation costs incurred by relatives or friends of prospective student-athletes;
  • the use of Tennessee State University's athletic equipment (e.g., for a high school all-star game); or
  • sponsorship of or arrangement for an awards banquet for high school , prep school or two year college athletes by an institution, boosters, or its alumni groups or booster clubs.

Once A Booster - Always A Booster