Just a day after the Baltimore Sun published this report about the NCAA’s rule on providing game balls to student-athletes, the NCAA has published a staff interpretation reversing the rule:
The academic and membership affairs staff determined that an institution may provide a memento of nominal value (e.g., game ball, t-shirt, hat, etc.), which may not include cash or cash equivalents, to a student-athlete in recognition of an accomplishment in a particular contest or event as a benefit incidental to participation.
This came a week after it was reported that Maryland linebacker Marcus Whitfield was told he could not receive his game ball for his performance against Florida International because of NCAA rules.
Despite the change, do not be surprised if some schools do not provide game balls to student-athletes until after their eligibility is up. The recent focus on the sale of memorabilia by athletes has caused some schools to withhold all awards until an athlete’s eligibility is up. Game balls may receive similar treatment.