AHSAA provides clarification on amateur rule

Published 10:25 am Thursday, September 21, 2023

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By Staff Reports

The Alabama High School Athletic Association Central Board of Control on Tuesday approved a clarification for the AHSAA Amateur rule regarding food-related gift cards presented to student-athletes.

According to a release, the board’s action rescinded any sanctions that were assessed to schools which have been penalized this year for Amateur Rule violations concerning gift cards.

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“I want to thank the Central Board for clarifying the AHSAA Amateur Rule concerning the receipt of food related gift cards by student-athletes,” said AHSAA Executive Director Alvin Briggs. “This clarification clears up any confusion our schools might have relating to gift cards and the Amateur Rule moving forward.”
The clarification has now been added to the Amateur Rule By-Law, which can be found in the 2023-24 AHSAA Handbook online beginning on page 30. It is also shown below:

SECTION 8. AMATEUR RULE. Only amateurs are eligible. An amateur is one who does not use his/her knowledge of athletics or athletic skill for gain. Amateur standing shall be further determined by the following standards:

(a) A student is ineligible if he/she has received money as a prize, or has sold a prize received in a contest, or has bet on a contest in which he/she is a participant.

(b) Professionalism is defined as accepting remuneration, directly or indirectly, for playing on athletic teams and in sports activities or for playing under an assumed name.

(c) A student who accepts material or financial inducement from any source is ineligible.

(d) No student shall receive more than actual expenses involved in travel to and from a contest or camp and necessary meals and lodging in the meantime. A student shall not at any time receive any portion of a livelihood for participation in athletics, other than actual expenses for any specific game or camp.

  1. A student cannot accept payment for loss of time or wages while participating in athletics as part of expenses.
  2. Reasonable meals, lodging and transportation may be accepted if such are accepted in service rather than money or some material form.
  3. Students playing on a non-home team which requires boarding away from home by the week, etc., will be looked upon as violating the professional rule if board is not paid by his family.
  4. A team which plans to divide among its members any surplus either during or at close of season shall be considered a professional team.

(e) No award of any kind having a monetary value of more than 250 dollars—other than medals, trophies, plaques or AHSAA championship rings—shall be made to students. Violation of this rule on the part of school officials shall subject the school to suspension for one year. Acceptance of awards exceeding these limitations shall disqualify a student. Cash awards or gift cards for athletic performances or participation may not be given or received.

Note:  Gift cards from food establishments are excluded from this rule.

Note: Gift cards from any entity other than a food establishment if returned unused are excluded from this rule.

(f) A student who has lost his/her amateur standing may be reinstated after the lapse of one high school season, or until reinstated by the Central Board of Control, for the sport in which he/she has become professional provided he/she has not persisted in breaking the amateur rule.

Across the state, various restaurants have provided free gift cards for athletes voted as “Players of the Week” as a form of reward, and in some places this has practice has been in place for years. It became a controversy this football season when a number of players and schools were punished for receiving the gift cards.