Return to Bylaw Blog

New NCAA Interp Limits Links to Recruiting and School-Specific Sites

The NCAA published a new staff interpretation clarifying and limiting how institutions can use material from recruiting websites and school-specific blogs, websites, and other publications. The background for this is that the NCAA limits interaction between schools and recruiting services. NCAA rules also require that schools tread lightly when dealing with publications that report solely on one school, less they get too close and are deemed boosters.

First the good news. Quotes are ok:

The academic and membership affairs staff determined that an institution may include a quotation by a recruiting or scouting service about a prospective student-athlete in a media release regarding the prospective student-athlete’s commitment, provided there is no indication that the institution endorses the recruiting or scouting service and the prospective student-athlete has signed a National Letter of Intent (NLI) or the institution’s written offer of admission or financial aid or the institution has received his or her financial deposit in response to its offer of admission.

Much of the information about recruits that is published before they commit comes from recruiting websites or school-specific blogs. So allowing quotes to be used in press releases makes sense. Although there is already a foreshadowing about where this interp is headed: the use of quotes is limited to “media releases regarding the prospective student-athlete’s commitment”. The interp follows that up with another, much bigger limit:

It is not permissible for an institution’s website to include a hyperlink to either the website of a noninstitutional publication that reports primarily on the institution’s athletics program or a recruiting/scouting service.

So according to this interp, an athletic department may use quotes from a school’s Rivals, Scout, or 247Sports site, or the school’s blogs like on SB Nation. But they may not link to the site.

On the modern Internet a link is definitely closer to an endorsement than a quote. But if releases are worded so there is no confusion about endorsement of a site, the link seems to be serving as nothing more than a citation and should not run afoul of the prohibition on endorsing a recruiting or scouting service.

Are you ready for the NEXT STEP!