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Ask a compliance officer: Your NCAA recruiting violation questions answered

You have questions about what constitutes a recruiting violation and just exactly who is a booster. We contacted an SEC compliance expert and asked him stupid questions instead.

Do not contact this gentleman.
Do not contact this gentleman.
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Now that a week has passed since National Signing Day, you've probably got a lot questions: How did my rival school land that five-star recruit? Why didn't my school persuade that blue chip running back to come play for us? Why, at odd hours of the night, was a Chevy Tahoe filled with paunchy men in matching windbreakers in my neighbor's driveway? And how do I know if a five-tech defensive lineman is worth refinancing my vacation home for oh nevermind that last one.

With an assist from EDSBS' Celebrity Hot Tub and SB Nation contributor Banks Woodrick, we've compiled a series of statements never often debated by zealous college football fans. Are you in potential violation of NCAA bylaws, or do you just need to temporarily relocate to South Florida?

Answers are provided to us by Brad Barnes, a real, live compliance expert for Texas A&M, whose Twitter account provides routine bylaw fun facts like this:


In exchange for Barnes answering our stupid, stupid questionnaire, we'll share that if you are wondering whether you're considered a booster of a particular NCAA member institute and worried about the potential impact of that designation, please contact your school's compliance department before doing whatever it is you're planning.

(That's the suggestion of Mr. Barnes and his colleagues only. If you've got garbage bags of folding money sprayed with deer antler extract and access to a hang glider, the editorial staff at SB Nation believes you're only cheating yourself by not giving your best effort for the team you love.)

Now then:


1. My car has a university logo decal.

Not a booster. Sometimes a sticker is just a sticker.

1a. My boat has a university logo decal.

Chareth Cutestory is a compliance person now, and he said, "Not a booster."

1b. The suitcase full of unmarked bills that I gave to a recruit has a university logo decal.

Yes, you are a booster, even without the sticker. See NCAA Bylaw 13.02.14-c.

2. I have a tattoo of a university’s mascot or logo greater than 10 inches in diameter.

Not a booster.

2a. At tailgates I charge other fans to view said tattoo inside my RV, as its location is partially concealed by my bathing suit area.

Not a booster.

3. I have started a team cheer in a chain restaurant in a Birmingham suburb, inciting physical violence.

Probably a stretch, but you could be considered a booster under 13.02.14-(e) if the institution knew or had reason to know you were promoting the institution's athletic interests (assuming the cheer was positive toward a team). Someone would have to show a reason the institution should have known this person was promoting the team.

3a. Said incident received regional news coverage and could be considered an active marketing campaign for the university.

See above. The more coverage of the individual's attempts to promote the institution, the more a likelihood the person would need to be classified as a booster.

3b. National news coverage. And it inspired a new Guy Fieri-endorsed chain of strip mall eateries.

Same as above.

4. I am a successful obstetrician who has never given a dime to any university, but I yell, "WOO BIRTH SOOIE," during every delivery.

I'll skip this one.

4a. During surgery, I've also used modern technology to brand the uterus of an unknowing patient with my favorite college team's logo. (Note: This one actually happened in real life. SEC! SEC! SEC!).

And I'll skip this one.

5. I own a live representative of my favorite school’s mascot.

Not a booster, but congratulations on getting a collie!

5a. I have trained this mascot to attack particular AAU coaches in my community (attack defined by a circuit court judge, pending appeal).

Not a booster. Violence doesn't promote any institution's athletics program. See Bylaw 13.02.14-e.

5b. Magical powers allow me to speak to various kinds of animals, all of whom I encourage to enroll at my favorite school.

No. And this seems like a poor use of magical powers.


1. I operate a Facebook account that correctly states I am a graduate of said university, which I use to send messages to potential recruits.

The answer depends on the message and motivation. If you have a legitimate non-recruiting reason to correspond with the recruit and don't include a recruiting message, then you may not have committed a violation. However, if your reason for sending the correspondance or the message itself relates to recruiting the individual and you are a booster, then you would appear to have committed a violation, and, if you were not already a booster, then you would be as a result of such correspondence (13.02.14-c) unless you were doing so on behalf of an institution you do not support in an attempt to damage its recruiting.

1a. My Facebook account also incorrectly states that I am a 25-year-old Crossfit instructor named Aiesha, living in Orlando and "n 2 ballazzz, yall....," and I also message potential recruits.

I'll skip this one.

2. I have built a sound stage and paid actor Stephen Root to play the coach of a rival school, all in an attempt to derail recruiting efforts.

Not a violation. Clear eyes, Swingline staplers, can't lose.

2a. Said production has earned a green light for an hour-long reality pilot at the TruTV Network.

Still not a violation.

3. While in the student union, I gave a prospective student-athlete half of my sandwich.

If you gave the prospect half of your sandwich to assist the institution in its recruitment of the prospect and you're a booster, then you committed a violation, albiet a minor violation.

3a. The sandwich in question was a french dip, but with melted silver instead of au jus.

That sounds dangerous and is likely a violation.

4. I sent my alma mater's athletic department a package of homemade coupons good for "One Free Unloading The Dishwasher."

Not a violation, unless your alma mater decides to hand these out to the enrolled or prospective student-athletes as a gift.

5. I accidentally delivered a pizza to a recruit with a university-logo visor baked into it.

Depends on what part is accidental: the delivery, or the baking of a visor.

6. I have convinced the rap artist Chamillionaire to allow a potential recruit to perform on one of his songs.

That's a violation if you are a booster and the motivation was recruiting.

6a. The album fails to generate any revenue, because no ever really liked Chamillionaire.

Even if the album flops, you still committed a violation if you are a booster and your motivation was recruiting.

7. I have employed a potential recruit at my business.

If you hired the prospect to assist in the institution's recruitment of the prospect and you are a booster, then you committed a violation.

7a. Potential recruit has received a disproportionate amount of compensation relative to labor, but in the form of an ownership stake of an arena football franchise and therefore of variable monetary worth.

If you're a booster, yes, you committed a violation.

7b. Let's go Peoria Yard Cats!

I don't know how to answer that.