With the summer Olympics in full swing, a lot of attention has been put on some of the swimmers of the USA team, mostly the high school-aged Missy Franklin. Missy has had an incredible showing at the Games so far, and isn’t done yet. As of today, she has earned four medals, three gold medals and one bronze medal. In addition to the hardware she has earned this summer, she has broken an Olympic record and a couple of American records.
What many people don’t know is that along with the medals she can take home with her, Missy has also earned herself a considerable amount of prize money for winning those medals. Earning a medal at the Olympic Games comes with a different amount of money. But, since she hopes to finish her high school swimming career and compete in college, she will have to forfeit some of that money to maintain her amateur status and be eligible to swim for a NCAA DI school.
The amateur status of a high school and college athlete must remain intact if they want to compete in NCAA and NAIA sports; they do this because they want to ensure that all incoming freshman and transfer athletes have the same amateur status, so they can regulate the level of play at their member institutions. When you register for the Eligibility Center, you will need to provide information about your athletics experiences as it pertains to your amateur status. Once you have earned your final Amateurism Certificate, you will be cleared to play sports at the NCAA level.
There are several things that can affect your amateur status, and your ability to compete for a college team, including the acceptance of prize money. Missy Franklin knows this first hand, so she’ll have to be careful. You cannot accept prize money that totals more than what you paid in travel, equipment, training, etc. to get to the event.
Here are some of the items that could land you in hot water if you don’t be careful:
- Accepting prize money
- Signing professional contracts or earning a salary with a professional team
- Any type of play with a professional team (tryouts, practice, competition all count)
- Agent representation or accepting benefits from agents or prospective agents
Make sure you take the time to know and understand the rules that pertain to maintaining your amateur status so that you are eligible to compete in college athletics.