After enduring an NCAA investigation lasting well over a year The University of Montana is very wary of any possibility of infractions. When season ticket holders got their tickets in the mail recently, the packet included a letter from Senior Associate Athletic Director Jean Gee. In the letter she spelled out how even the most innocent tailgate could lead to problems. The NCAA defines “extra benefit” as any special gift or arrangement provided to an enrolled student-athlete, recruit, or to their relatives or friends. And yes you’re right this would include food and beverages at tailgate parties. The key words are “extra benefit” and “booster.”

The NCAA defines a booster as;

  • A season ticket holder
  • A tailgate operator
  • A former student or fan of UM
  • Booster club member
  • Donor to UM Athletics (any team) or the GSA
  • Parent/Legal guardian of student athlete.
  • Been involved in any way with the University’s athletic program.

Gee closes her letter with this statement;” We greatly appreciate your cooperation and thank you for your support of UM Athletics, but also remind you that there are certain NCAA rules that apply to you. We must all exercise caution so enthusiasm for athletics does not lead to unintentional conflicts with NCAA rules.”

On a personal note, I can’t imagine there’s going to be an NCAA Tailgate enforcer hiding behind the trees over in Memorial Grove or patrolling up and down Campus Drive but this is something all of us need to be aware of in the future.  As Montana moves forward and grows we’re going to have to realize that success will bring challenges.