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NCAA In Tune with Dancing With the Stars

The National Collegiate Athletic Association is in step with the television program Dancing With the Stars, and it has decided that the hero of the University of Notre Dame’s NCAA Championship-winning Women’s Basketball Team, Arike Ogunbowale, can compete in the dance competition without violating NCAA amateurism rules.

The NCAA has determined that any prize she receives will be due to her dancing performance, rather than her athletic prowess.

NCAA By-law 12.4.1.1 permits student-athletes to work, but it also provides that “compensation may not include any remuneration for value or utility that the student-athlete may have for the employer because of the publicity, reputation, fame or personal following that he or she has obtained because of athletics ability.”

Few people outside the world of women’s collegiate basketball may have heard of Ogunbowale before she hit two last-second three-point shots to help win both the 2018 NCAA Women’s National Championship semi-final and championship games for Notre Dame.

While Ogunbowale cannot engage in promotional activities for the show (as that according to the NCAA would leverage her athletic achievements), she can keep any prize money she may earn and that so-useful mirrored disco-ball because those benefits would be due to her dancing abilities.

The NCAA has threaded the needle as carefully as a seamstress on set and reached a practical decision that appears to benefit all concerned, without any detriment to the NCAA’s amateurism rules. Ogunbowale now can show off her dance moves as the only college athlete in the all-athletes season. So it’s “On with the show.”

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2020National Law Review, Volume VIII, Number 108

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About this Author

Patrick Egan, Labor Law Attorney, Jackson Lewis, Boston Law Firm
Patrick L. Egan

Patrick L. Egan is a Principal in the Boston, Massachusetts, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. Mr. Egan works in traditional labor law.

He has assisted employers in all industries in all phases of union organizing campaigns. Mr. Egan has represented employers in card-signing efforts and representation and decertification campaigns. He has conducted union awareness and positive employee relations training for hundreds of companies and employer groups. He has also assisted dozens of employers to preempt, prepare for and defend against union corporate campaigning....

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