Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College

Campus Life

A Parent's Guide to NCAA Rules

Posted on August 31, 2011

The purpose of this guide is to educate the parents of Wheaton student-athletes about  some of the NCAA rules that apply to you and your son/daughter. At Wheaton College, we believe that conducting our program with integrity is very important. Please read this pamphlet to learn how you can help carry on this tradition.

Definitions To Know & Understand

Representatives of Athletics Interest (RAIs)

The NCAA defines those who support a collegiate athletics program as Representatives of Athletics Interest (RAI), or the more common classification is a booster. When parents donate, or contribute anything of value to the athletic department or specific athletic program they become RAIs (or boosters) and all the NCAA rules applicable to this group need to be followed. Once an individual or organization is identified as a  RAI, they retain that classification indefinitely. RAIs may not be involved in recruiting, or providing benefits to prospects, student-athletes and the relatives of student-athletes.

Extra Benefit

An extra benefit is any special arrangement by an institutional employee or a RAI to provide a student-athlete of their relatives/friends a benefit not expressly authorized by NCAA legislation. Receipt of a benefit is not a violation if it is demonstrated that the same benefit is generally available to the institution’s student body (relatives/friends) determined on a basis unrelated to athletics ability.


Occasional Meals

A student-athlete or the entire team in a sport may receive an occasional meal from an institutional staff member or RAI under the following conditions:

  • The occasional meal may be provided at any location in the locale of the institution;
  • Meals must be restricted to infrequent and special occasions; and
  • Institutional staff members and RAIs may provide transportation to student-athletes to attend such meals.

Gifts & Goodies

If a parent wishes to donate to a specific program or team please speak with the head coach. S/he will be certain that all donations are approved by the NCAA and communicate with the institution’s Compliance Officer to be sure donations are tax deductible.



Institutions may provide relatives of student-athletes with reasonable refreshments on an occasional basis, but may not provide free meals at any time. Examples:

  • If you are at a competition site and the coach takes the team out to dinner, you may eat at the same restaurant, but you must pay for your own meal.
  • If a team hosts a banquet and parents (relatives, or friends) are invited, they must pay for the cost of their meal.
  • Parents may always provide their own child with food and meals at any time.

Gifts & Goodies

Student-athletes, their friends and relatives may not be provided with what the NCAA defines as an “extra benefit.” An extra benefit is anything that is not generally available to the student body (or general public) or some larger subset of the student body. So…

  • Student-athletes may not accept gifts or services at reduced prices (e.g., a parent may not buy iPods for each member of a team as a holiday gift).
  • Parents may not get a special discounted hotel rate arranged by the athletic department when they come to visit, or travel to the site of away competition.


An institution may not provide parents with transportation to contest sites or to campus. (e.g., parents may not ride on the team bus at any time)


There are complex rules regarding recruiting and who is allowed to talk to prospective student-athletes and when. As parents, you may forward information about prospects that you know to coaches, but you should not have recruiting conversations with prospective student-athletes. Please note that forwarding information about prospects is viewed as supporting an athletic program, which triggers classifications as a RAI.


Violations of NCAA rules often require the student-athletes and their families to repay the amount of money (or equivalent if it was a service). If the amount of the benefit is in excess of $100.00 the student-athlete becomes ineligible for competition until the NCAA reinstates them. This process can take time, so student-athletes may be in jeopardy of missing competition.

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