Student-Athlete Incentives, Benefits, and Recruitment

by: Mickey Ingles (originally posted on Spin.Ph)

YESTERDAY, representatives of the UAAP said that the league will finally be setting, and enforcing, limits on benefits offered to recruits and student-athletes. By doing this, they hope to, as Kiko Diaz of the University of the Philippines said, “level the playing field in terms of recruitment.”

“Basically, nag-set ng guidelines ang UAAP na lahat na mare-receive na benefits ng student-athletes natin ay mayroong ceiling,” added Diaz, in a report by‘s Randolph Leongson.

What these limits actually are remains to be seen, but it’s definitely a good, albeit delayed, start. Hopefully, the UAAP makes these limits (and yes, its rulebook) public as well, for transparency and legitimacy purposes. It will also help with the enforcement, which is understandably the tricky side of things and is something the UAAP acknowledges.

While we wait and see how the UAAP will punish violators of its would-be limits on benefits, it’s helpful to see what the Student-Athlete Protection Act (SAPA) actually has to say about benefits and incentives used to entice student-athletes.

Section 5 of the SAPA provides an exclusive list of incentives and benefits schools can provide its recruits and student-athletes:

1. Tuition and miscellaneous school fees including books and other learning materials;
2. Full board and lodging;
3. School and athletic uniforms including supplies, equipment and paraphernalia;
4. A reasonable regular monthly living allowance, the amount of which shall be set and standardized by the athletic association to which the school is affiliated with;
5. Medical examinations and consultations, emergency medical services, life and medical insurance and other reasonable and similar benefits that would further enhance the academic and athletic performance of the student-athlete; and
6. Other reasonable and similar benefits that would further enhance the student-athlete’s academic and athletic performance.

Section 6 also states that schools are not allowed to offer the student-athlete and his immediate family benefits or incentives beyond those enumerated above which are contrary to the nature of amateur sports and which may result in the commercialization of the student-athlete. Giving anything outside this list or beyond what is considered reasonable will constitute a violation of the SAPA.

So, offering a student-athlete and his family a grocery franchise or a milk tea shop in exchange for enrolling is unquestionably a violation. 

I imagine the UAAP seeks to limit non-academic and non-medical benefits which would cover number 4 and 6 of the list. Again, we’ll have to wait and see what the UAAP comes up with. And yes, again, I hope they make it public.

Who can report student-athlete recruitment violations?

In terms of whistleblowing and enforcement, the SAPA already provides a mechanism of exposing wrongdoing and pinning liability.

Section 8 of the SAPA, allows a complaint regarding a SAPA violation—say, giving a benefit over the limit set by the UAAP—to be filed by any of the following:

1. A student-athlete;
2. His/her parents or guardians; 
3. Member schools or their alumni; or 
4. Any person or any entity in behalf of a student-athlete who, or a school which, may be affected by any SAPA violation.

So yes, basically anyone can report a SAPA violation. The SAPA allows complaints to be directed to the athletic association, the DepEd, or CHED.

The SAPA also pins liability on just about anyone involved in the violation. This includes school officials, athletic directors, coaches and their staff, administrators, even alumni and the school or athletic associations themselves if they knowingly permit or fail to prevent SAPA violations. 

Erring schools can be suspended from participating in athletic events and/or be slapped with a fine ranging from P100,000 to P1,000,000. Erring athletic associations can also be slapped with a fine ranging from P100,000 to P1,000,000.

Whether the UAAP will work within the confines of the SAPA or supplement it with its internal mechanisms and sanctions, we can only wait and see.

But yes, again, we hope these are made public.

Mickey Ingles is the editor-in-chief of Batas Sportiva. He was the captain of the Ateneo Football Team which won 3 straight UAAP Championships from 2004-2006—he was not under any scholarship and did not receive any benefits, except for recovery meals in the form of sausage McMuffins with egg.


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