Publicizing Off-Campus Preseason Practices

At this time of year, fall sports (especially football in 2017) begin to report to campus for preseason practice. In most situations, your fall sport teams are living and practicing on-campus. However, some teams travel to off-campus locations to conduct practice for a variety of reasons (i.e., better weather, tradition, training purposes). In those situations, the institution must assess whether those practices adhere to Bylaw, which governs publicity of preseason off-campus practice activities. Essentially, an institution can publicize preseason practices at off-campus locations only if those practices are at a location where off-campus preseason practices are traditionally conducted. If an institution is traveling to a different location from year to year, or different locations within the same preseason, NCAA rules would preclude the institution from publicizing the practice in any manner. The purpose of this rule is to prevent teams from conducting recruiting road shows where they can highlight their current programs to prospects in the locale of the off-campus location.

The educational column below elucidates some of the basic applications of the rule to the preseason period. Please note Q & A #4 which speaks to a situation where an institution does not publicize an off-campus practice but other sources do. In that situation, the NCAA has determined that the team must not conduct the practice should the public gain knowledge from external sources and attend the practice. This is great fodder to provide to media/communications/marketing offices with an athletic department.


Preseason Publicized Off-Campus Practice Activities (I)

 February 22, 2011 

NCAA Division I institutions should note that pursuant to NCAA Division I Bylaw an institution may not publicize preseason off-campus practice activities that occur at a site not normally used by the institution for its practices. The legislation is intended to address concerns that publicized off-campus practice activities were being conducted for recruiting purposes (i.e., practice activities were conducted at the educational institutions of prospective student-athletes being recruited by the institution). It is not designed to preclude institutions that normally use a single off-campus practice facility from continuing to use such a facility to conduct preseason practice activities. Therefore, an institution that normally conducts preseason practice activities at a single designated off-campus location may publicize the fact that its practices will occur at that site.

The following questions and answers are designed to assist the Division I membership with the application of this legislation.

Question No. 1: If an institution normally conducts its preseason practice activities at various off-campus sites, may it publicize its practices at these sites?

Answer: No. An institution that conducts preseason practice activities at multiple sites each year or at one off-campus site that varies from year to year is not permitted to publicize its practices at those locations. For example, if an institution normally uses the same four sites every year for preseason practices, it is not permissible to publicize the preseason practices at these sites.

Question No. 2: May an institution publicize its off-campus practice activities at a site it has never used before, but intends to normally use in subsequent years?

Answer: Yes. An institution may designate a new off-campus site it will normally use for preseason practice activities if the institution can demonstrate that it will normally be conducting preseason practice activities at that site in subsequent years (e.g., a multiyear contract).

Question No. 3: Is an institution required to conduct all of its preseason practice activities at the designated off-campus site to be permitted to publicize its practice activities at that site?

Answer: No. An institution is not required to conduct all of its preseason practice activities at the designated off-campus site to be able to publicize such practices. For example, if an institution normally conducts the first week of its preseason practice activities at an off-campus site and then conducts the remaining preseason practice activities on campus, it is permissible to publicize the practice activities at the off-campus site, provided it is the site the institution normally uses for its preseason practice activities.

Question No. 4: May an institution conduct preseason off-campus practice activities at a site not normally used by the institution for its practices if an entity other than the institution (e.g., facility where practices will be conducted) publicizes the activities without the consent or knowledge of the institution?

Answer: An institution has an obligation to cancel, relocate or reschedule off-campus preseason practice activities that have been publicized, regardless of the source or scope of the publicity. For example, if the team arrives at the off-campus practice facility and discovers that the activities have been publicized (e.g., fans are in attendance), going through with the practice would constitute a violation.