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Stuart J. Oberman, ESQ. JuniorHockey.com Contributor

Increasingly, talented hockey players are finding themselves the recipient of gifts from colleges, professional teams or agents looking to scout fresh talent. These gifts may include equipment, memorabilia, clothing, cash, or even reduced living expenses. However, players with a desire to play at the collegiate level must be extremely cautious about accepting any gift in order to preserve their NCAA eligibility.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association [NCAA] regulates athletes’ eligibility for collegiate sports. The NCAA does not allow compensation based upon athletic skill and prohibits any preferential benefit not available to the general collegiate student body. Section 13.2 of the NCAA Regulations forbids an athlete from accepting gifts of any kind because of the athlete’s reputation, skill or potential as a professional player.

Examples of common gifts to athletes based on the athlete’s reputation or skill include gifts of clothing, equipment, cash, merchandise and sponsorships. The NCAA’s broad exclusions on athlete gifts also includes an employment arrangement or a loan for an athlete’s family, co-signing of loans for the athlete, free or reduced-cost services, free or reduced-cost housing, use of an institution’s athletic equipment and even expenses for academic tutoring or test preparation to assist in the athlete’s achievement of eligibility requirements.

Section 13.2.1.2 of the NCAA Regulations provides that athletes who have received a gift valued at $100.00 or less may regain eligibility for collegiate sports if the athlete repays the value of the gift to a charity of the athlete’s choosing. However, if the gift was valued over $100.00, there is no restitution available and the athlete will be ineligible for collegiate sports.

For these reasons, it is very important that players considering collegiate hockey decline any gift offers from collegiate representatives, professional teams, booster members or agents in order to preserve their collegiate eligibility.

Stuart J. Oberman, Esq. provides services a wide variety of services to professional hockey players, including contract negotiations, endorsements, licensing, media relations, marketing and branding opportunities. For questions or comments regarding this article please call (770) 554-1400 or visit www.obermanlaw.com

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