AHSAA Approves Clarification of Amateurism Rule and Resends Sanctions Concerning Food-Related Gift Cards

Montgomery, AL – The Alabama High School Athletic Association Central Board of Control met Tuesday at the AHSAA Office and unanimously approved a clarification for the AHSAA Amateur Rule concerning food-related gift cards presented to AHSAA student-athletes.

The Central Board action also rescinded any sanctions that were assessed to schools which have been penalized this school year for Amateur Rule violations concerning such gift cards.

“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 amateurism issue came to light when it was discovered that several Tuscaloosa County players received Buffalo Wild Wings gift cards following the Wildcats’ 24-21 victory over Central-Tuscaloosa in Week 0 of the Alabama high school football season.  Subsequently, two of the athletes participated in the Wildcats’ dominant 55-33 win over Bessemer City the following week. An inquiry revealed that these players had unintentionally jeopardized their amateur status. As a result, the Wildcats were compelled to forfeit their Week 1 win.

According to Tuscaloosa County head coach Adam Winegarden the gift cards were never redeemed.  

The clarification has now been added to the Amateur Rule By-Law. 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.

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