Who is a booster / representative of athletic interests?

NCAA rules state that all alumni, friends, and employees of the University are categorized as "representatives of athletics interests." The NCAA stipulates that once an individual has been identified as a representative or "booster/donor" of the University's athletics programs, he or she retains this status forever even if the individual is no longer associated with the athletics program. Furthermore, the NCAA states that it is possible to be a representative of athletics interest at more than one university at the same time.

A representative of athletics interests is anyone who has ever:

  • made any type of contribution to the athletics department or to a booster club
  • joined the institution's booster club or any sport specific support group
  • provided or helped arrange employment for a student-athlete
  • provided benefits to enrolled student-athletes or their families
  • assisted in any manner in the recruitment of prospective student-athletes
  • promoted the institution's athletics program in any manner
  • purchased season tickets from the University

As a representative of athletics interests (booster/donor), you may not:

  • contact a prospect's coach, principal or counselor in an effort to evaluate a prospect
  • visit the prospect's institution to pick up film or transcripts pertaining to the evaluation of the prospect's Šacademic eligibility or athletic ability
  • contact a prospect, his/her parents, legal guardians or spouse on or off campus
  • contact a prospect by telephone or by letter
  • make special arrangements for entertainment for recruiting purposes
  • provide extra benefits to a prospect, student -athlete at UT or another institution or to the parents, family and/or guardians of the prospects or student athlete's

Who is a prospective student-athlete?

NCAA rules stipulate that a prospective student-athlete is a person who has started classes for the ninth (9th) grade, regardless of his/her athletics ability and/or participation.

Note: In the sport of men's basketball, an individual becomes a prospective student-athlete when he enrolls in classes for the seventh (7th) grade.

Remember:

  • A prospective student-athlete remains a prospect even after he or she has signed a National Letter of Intent or accepts an offer of financial aid to attend an institution.
  • The prospect remains a prospect until he/she reports for the first day of classes for a regular term (fall or spring) or the first official day of practice (whichever comes first).

Don't forget about transfer students!

As a representative of athletics interest you are not permitted to contact any student-athlete or the family member/guardian of a student-athlete who is or has enrolled at another institution for the purposes of recruiting and/or to determine the possibility of transferring to UT. The same rules apply to these students as they do for prospective student-athletes.

What is an extra benefit?

The NCAA defines an extra benefit as any special arrangement by an institutional employee or a representative of the institution's athletics interest ("booster/donor") to provide a student-athlete (or a student-athlete's relative or friend) a benefit that is not generally available to other UT students and their relative and/or friends. Therefore, please be aware of the following:

  • A student-athlete cannot accept anything from an employee of UT or athletic booster/donor (e.g., use of a car, haircut, clothing, gifts, money, tickets for any kind of entertainment, payment of long distance telephone calls).
  • A student-athlete cannot accept free or reduced cost room and/or board from any UT employee or booster/donor of UT's athletic programs. This includes in on or off campus, in the student-athlete's home city or any other location. This would preclude a student-athlete from "house sitting" without paying rental costs at a comparable rate for similar housing in that locale.
  • A student-athlete may not accept free or reduced cost storage room for personal belongings for the summer months from any UT employee or booster/donor of UT's athletic programs.
  • A student-athlete cannot accept free or reduced merchandise or services from any merchant unless that free or reduced cost item is also available to the general public.
  • A student-athlete cannot eat at a restaurant as the guest of an athletic booster/donor or an employee of UT.
  • On infrequent, special occasions (e.g., a birthday, Thanksgiving, etc.), a student-athlete may accept an invitation to the home of an employee of UT or an athletic booster/donor for a meal.
  • A student-athlete cannot use a Department of Athletics copy machine, fax machine or make long distance phone calls using departmental equipment or the long distance access code of an employee of UT or athletic booster/donor.
  • Members of the Department of Athletics staff or an athletic booster/donor are not permitted to type reports, papers, letters, etc., for a student-athlete.
  • A student-athlete cannot receive a special discount, payment arrangement or credit on a purchase (e.g., airline ticket, clothing), or service (e.g., laundry, dry cleaning) from an employee of UT or an athletic booster/donor.
  • An UT employee or a booster/donor cannot provide a student-athlete with a loan of money, a guarantee of bond, the use of an automobile or the signing or co-signing of a note to arrange a loan, or pay or provide other compensation for work not performed or at unreasonable levels for work performed.
  • An UT employee may provide a student-athlete only reasonable and occasional local (i.e., within a 30 mile radius of the UT campus) transportation. However, an UT employee may not utilize a University vehicle for purposes of assisting a student-athlete's move from one residence to another.

What are the consequences of NCAA violations?

  • A currently enrolled student-athlete being declared ineligible to participate
  • Jeopardized eligibility for prospective student-athlete(s)
  • NCAA sanctions imposed on the University and its athletics programs

What are the consequences of NCAA violations for athletic representatives (boosters/donors)?

The University of Tennessee is required by the NCAA to notify boosters of consequences regarding rules violations. Boosters found in violation of NCAA rules are subject to losing benefits and privileges, including but not limited to disassociation from the University of Tennessee and/or loss of ticket privileges.

Appearance Requests

Requests for Tennessee student-athlete appearances must be made through the Thornton Athletics Student Life Center. Per NCAA regulations, appearances may only be granted to educational, charitable and non-profit organizations, and the following conditions apply:

  1. Student-athletes may not miss class time for appearances;
  2. All monies derived from the appearance must go directly to the charitable, educational or non-profit agency;
  3. Student-athletes may only accept actual and necessary expenses related to their participation in the activity (and these expenses must be documented); and
  4. The appearance may not involve co-sponsorship, advertisement or promotion by a commercial entity other than through the reproduction of the sponsoring organization's officially registered regular trademark or logo on printed materials such as pictures, posters or calendars.

The Thornton Athletics Student Life Center reviews all student-athlete appearance requests on a case-by-case basis and will grant or deny appearances based on the specific circumstances of each request. Additionally, due to academic and athletic obligations, UT gives preference to community service events that occur in the Knoxville area.

To request a student-athlete appearance, please contact Kayla Smith, Director of Student-Athlete Development, at ksmit239@utk.edu or (865) 974-2795.

Autograph and Donations

Student-athlete autographs are not available by request, but may be acquired at preseason Fan Days and other sanctioned promotional events. Please note that these autographs must not be sold or traded for money or any item of value as this could jeopardize the eligibility of the involved student-athlete.

All other autograph (coach) and donation requests must be made through the Athletics Department's Marketing Office. Requests are subject to NCAA regulations and limited to charitable and non-profit organizations. Organizations requesting autographs must provide the item to be autographed (please do not provide the item until you have received notification of approval). Requests made by the general public will not be fulfilled (coach autographs may be obtained at preseason Fan Days, Big Orange Caravan events and other announced events).

The Marketing Office and Compliance Office review all autograph and donation requests on a case-by-case basis and will grant or deny requests based on the specific circumstances of each request. Every effort is made to accommodate requests, but due to an extremely high demand, not all requests can be fulfilled.

To request a coach's autograph or a donation for your charitable/non-profit organization, please contact the Marketing Office at utathletics@utk.edu or (865) 974-1734.