Volleyball players almost have meal paid for, refuse gift
Ten volleyball players celebrating a teammate’s birthday at Applebee’s, unknowingly got their meals paid for by a fan. After finding out about the fans good deed, the girls told the waiter they could not accept the gift and paid for their meals individually. “The student-athlete shall not receive any extra benefit,” states Bylaw 126.96.36.199: in the NCAA handbook.
“We do appreciate all the fans support, but we cannot accept anything from fans because it could jeopardize our eligibility,” said Courtnery Harring, junior rehabilitation major. “I don’t think student athletes should receive extra benefits because regular students do not get them.”
Bing Xu, head coach, said he was proud of how his players handled the situation. Even though the fan had good intent, they would not have done the same for a regular Emporia State student. Student athletes represent the school on and off the field and they do deserve to be appreciated, but should not get special treatment for competing according to Kent Weiser, athletic director.
“That rule is there because somebody probably abused it,” Weiser said. “We function under a lot of the division one rules and those athletes probably have people wanting to buy them dinner all the time.”
Carmen Leeds, associate director of intercollegiate athletics, stressed that it is the student athlete’s responsibility to know the rules. These rules are covered at the beginning of the year, when the athlete is first signed and in the required Goals class that is mandatory for all athletes. However, these rules do not just affect athletes.
“Even for me, recruiting, I feel the pressure of some of these rules. The show case offers recruiters free hotel rooms which would actually help not take money out of the budget but we have rules to follow too,” said Bryan Sailor, soccer coach.
If the athletes had taken the fans offer, they would have not been allowed to compete in their next game and they would have had to pay the money back. Punishments vary on the amount of money the athlete would have received, like if the total amount received is under $50, the athlete has the option of donating the amount to a charity of their choice but would not have had to miss a game.
“I believe if fans and supporters were allowed to give to student athletes I think there could more problems as it is,” said Brent Wilson, sophomore business major and starting quarterback. “Yes a lot of things happen behind the scenes with this, so if it became legal I think at the division one level for sure it could get out of hand. I do see what the NCAA rules are all about.”
According to Weiser, ESU has never really had a major issue with athletes breaking this rule, and only write up a few athletes each year for minor offenses.
“Part of that is to show that we are watching and paying attention to our athletes,” said Weiser. “With all the ins and outs each athlete probably inadvertently breaks two or three rules a year. We have some in our league that have never turned in a secondary rule violation and you can’t tell me no one is breaking any rules even if it is not their intention.”
According to Weiser, ESU’s system is one of the best in the league, and the division has asked the university to mentor schools who are trying to join our league.