December 10, 2009

NCAA Clearinghouse Question.

I enjoy your web site, and as a father of a prospective college player have learned quite a bit. I'm confused about the questions my daughter was required to answer about club affiliation on the Clearinghouse web site. Assuming one pays a global fee to cover all expenses that season, including coaching, court rental, uniforms and equipment, travel, and hotels, should a player then check none of these items on the web site? Or alternatively, if a player plays for a club which charges only a basic fee to cover coaches and courts, should the rest also be left blank since the costs were covered by the player? It seems to me the intent is to question a player if they have received any other type of reimbursement or incentive outside that which has been payed to the club or directly paid by the family.

Thanks for any advice. If this has already been addressed on your web site I'd appreciate a link to find it.


This may be the first question which I have had with regards to the NCAA Clearinghouse and the Amateurism section.

Remember that the NCAA Clearinghouse has two parts now - The Initial Academic Eligibility and Amateurism. In the past, determining if a player was an Amateur or Professional was handled by each school and just consisted of completing a written questionnaire. This led to many occurrences of professional athletes, international players by and large, gaining clearance to participate in NCAA athletics by simply answering "no" to each question on the paper. The NCAA moved to take this protocol to a central national effort, just because individual schools did not have the time or resources to validate the questionnaires.

As it stands now, the NCAA Clearinghouse Amateurism questionnaire is on line and consists of about 20 or so questions. For the most part, this effort is focused on international student athletes, but must also be completed by USA Prospective Student Athletes. The challenge that the NCAA faces with international players is that each country around the world determines its own definition of professional. For instance, in Europe, you can start receiving a salary to play sports at a very young age, still be in high school or go to college while playing professional sports. On the other hand, there are other countries where the governing bodies don't allow payment to athletes until they have reached a certain age (19 or 21 for example).

For USA PSA's, most of the focus of the Amateurism questions would be directed toward club sport organizations like USA Volleyball Junior Clubs or AAU clubs (basketball, baseball, etc). What the NCAA is concerned about are elite players receiving payments or scholarships to play for certain teams. AAU men's basketball teams are big business, where teams are sponsored by Nike, Adidas, etc. and conduct themselves with travel and training similar to the best college basketball teams in the country. With all the money associated with such teams, the NCAA has cast an eye towards trying to determine if the PSA's are receiving any type of compensation or free benefits (travel, clothes, per diem) which would not be allowed.

Because of the 'guilt by association' of being a club sport, the NCAA also is aware/concerned about Junior Club Volleyball. I don't think that Club Volleyball in any way, shape or form approaches the corporate world of AAU basketball, but the NCAA must apply the same philosophy.

Back to Jon's question - The NCAA is just trying to determine if a PSA received any special treatment or improper benefits with regards to their participation with club volleyball. To make things more convoluted, each club team has its own business protocol with regards to payment of club fees and what is included or not included. Some clubs charge a basic fee which covers not too much and the parents are out of pocket for travel, clothes, food, etc. On the other hand, some clubs charge a substantial monthly fee which will cover almost everything associated with the club season.

The best way to answer the questions on the NCAA Amateurism website is just straight up honest. Don't over think a question or try to determine the peripheral subjects; just answer the question to the best of your knowledge.

If the folks at the Clearinghouse have any questions about your answers, they will just e-mail you for clarification. My experience is that for USA PSA's, the NCAA just gives a cursory glance at the Amateurism section. The reality is they are too busy churning through international, football/basketball and transfer student athletes to focus upon incoming USA freshman.

By the way, the paperwork/questionnaires via the NCAA websites are just the tip of the ice burg for your daughter - Just wait until she gets to college, then the real paperwork begins!!!!


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