Boosters play a role in providing student-athletes with a positive experience through their enthusiastic efforts. They can support teams and athletics departments through donations of time and financial resources which help student-athletes succeed on and off the playing field. Boosters, referred to by the NCAA as “representatives of the institution’s athletic interests,” include anyone who has:
- Provided a donation in order to obtain season tickets for any sport at the university.
- Participated in or has been a member of an organization promoting the university’s athletics programs.
- Made financial contributions to the athletic department or to a university booster organization.
- Arranged for or provided employment for enrolled student-athletes.
- Been involved otherwise in promoting university athletics.
Once an individual is identified as a “representative of the institution’s athletics interests,” the person retains that identity forever.
Only institutional staff members are permitted to recruit prospective student-athletes. Generally, NCAA rules prohibit anyone else from contacting prospects or the prospect’s relatives or guardian for recruiting purposes. Students are still considered prospects until they have started official practice or classes at Western Michigan University even if they have signed a National Letter of Intent or any other financial aid agreement.
Boosters are not precluded from continuing established friendships with families who have prospective student-athletes. However, boosters may not encourage a prospect’s participation in university athletics or provide benefits to prospects that were not previously provided. As a member of the NCAA, Western Michigan University is responsible for the actions of its alumni, supporters and fans. If a violation occurs, it may jeopardize a student-athlete’s eligibility for intercollegiate competition, jeopardize a school’s membership status with the NCAA or cause a booster to lose access to all booster benefits.