Student-athletes face pressure to perform in both their sport and the academic arena. For student-athletes, it's not enough to live up to the expectations of their fans, teammates, or coach. They must also abide by strict rules set forth by their university and sport governing bodies.
When a student-athlete violates these rules, their entire academic and playing career can come to a screeching halt. A rule violation can lead to investigations by both university and NCAA officials. Few student-athletes know how to navigate these complex processes, and they end up paying the price. Many student-athletes face significant sanctions for even first-time or minor offenses. Rule violations can lead to eligibility issues, scholarship loss, dismissal from school, and more.
If you or someone you know is a student-athlete accused of an offense, you must enlist the services of an experienced attorney. Attorney Joseph D. Lento can prepare you for the rigors of a formal investigation and protect your rights throughout the process. Like a coach, he can draw up a game plan to success.
Why Student-Athletes Need Support
Not everyone plays a fair game when it comes to investigating student-athletes. The NCAA brings in annual revenue of over $1 billion and has a vested interest in protecting their money. They often deliver strict punishments to student-athletes who threaten to damage their reputation. Many coaches and athletic directors will also protect their interests over the interests of their athletes. With so much at stake, it's not uncommon for officials to make an example of student-athletes.
Schools also go to great measures to investigate academic infractions. Student-athletes who violate university codes of conduct face formal hearings that can lead to academic sanctions. One minor misstep during this investigation process can prove catastrophic. An academic sanction can threaten your eligibility as both a student and an athlete. An attorney will prepare you for both NCAA and university investigations and help you avoid potential pitfalls that could damage your case.
Unique Student-Athlete Issues
Student-athletes must adhere to rules set forth by the NCAA, their sports conference, and their team. Rule violations can lead to a wide range of complex issues that are unique to student-athletes. While every investigation is different, some common issues plague student-athletes across the nation. Here are a few of the student-athlete issues that might require an attorney:
Student-athletes must meet eligibility requirements to compete and receive financial aid. For example, NCAA Division I or II student-athletes need to meet many academic requirements, including earning at least a 2.3 GPA. Student-athletes must also register with the NCAA Eligibility Center, which monitors their compliance with eligibility standards. Certain NCAA rule violations can also lead to ineligibility. An experienced attorney can challenge eligibility issues and also facilitate reinstatement if the NCAA revokes your eligibility.
NCAA Division I and II schools provide more than 180,000 student-athletes with athletics scholarships per year. These scholarships can cover the costs of attending a university. Although some student-athletes receive four-year scholarships, schools do not guarantee most scholarships. The vast majority of student-athletes receive a one-year scholarship that schools review on an annual basis.
A college program can terminate even long-term scholarships in an instant. They can discontinue a scholarship for academic misconduct, poor academic performance, and even injury. Your school may have the right to end your scholarship, but you also have the right to appeal their decision. An attorney can fight to retain your scholarship and identify any grounds for an appeal.
If you face eligibility issues, an attorney can see if you qualify for a waiver to restore your eligibility. In some cases, student-athletes can file for an academic waiver that states there are mitigating circumstances for deficiencies. An attorney can guide you through this process if you've experienced a medical issue or personal hardship that affected your academic performance.
Many student-athletes transfer schools to seek new playing opportunities. Although the NCAA allows student-athletes to change schools, they do have strict transfer requirements. You might be able to qualify for a one-time transfer exception that gives you immediate eligibility at your new school. You can use an attorney to appeal transfer disputes and related eligibility issues.
Drug Testing Appeals
The NCAA tests student-athletes for steroids, peptide hormones, and performance-enhancing drugs. Testing positive for any banned substance can lead to eligibility issues and other consequences. If you believe that you experienced a false positive on a drug test, an attorney can file an appeal.
The NCAA also removes drug test violations when student-athletes prove they unknowingly took a banned substance. The NCAA may also reduce your penalty based on the following factors:
- The type or amount of banned substance detected
- Evidence of good character
- The student-athletes remorse, family hardship, or history of family dysfunction
- The degree to which the banned substance may or may not affect athletic performance
The sports world is no stranger to athlete injuries. Although you might think that sports injuries are not preventable, recent litigation proved that that's not always the case. The NCAA recently went through a $70 million class-action lawsuit for mishandling student-athlete concussions.
An injury can derail even the best athletes' careers. If you experienced a sports injury, you may be able to pursue litigation. You can hold coaches, sports programs, or universities responsible for your injury if they were negligent or failed to protect your safety. A misdiagnosed injury can also be grounds for a lawsuit. An attorney can review the facts surrounding your injury and determine how best to proceed.
Name, Image, and Likeness Rights
Student-athletes and the NCAA have a long-standing feud over name, image, and likeness rights. Although the NCAA recently modified its regulations, student-athletes still face punishment for earning money off their name. An attorney can challenge alleged rule violations and work to get your eligibility back on track.
Student-athletes are not just at the mercy of NCAA rules. They must also adhere to university policy. Schools typically outline their rules and regulations in their student code of conduct. Codes of conduct outline behavioral expectations and the process for responding to rule violations.
One of the most common code of conduct violations is academic misconduct. Academic misconduct is an act that creates an unfair academic advantage, such as plagiarism, cheating, or unauthorized collaboration.
Student-athletes accused of academic misconduct typically go through a university disciplinary hearing and an NCAA investigation.
Since schools hold academic integrity in the highest regard, academic misconduct can have steep consequences. Common sanctions include course failure, academic probation, suspension, and expulsion from the university. These sanctions can lead to eligibility issues and have a long-term effect on your athletic career.
You don't have to dispute academic misconduct charges on your own. Many universities allow students to use attorney-advisors to guide them through the disciplinary process. Attorneys can collect evidence and witnesses for your hearing. They can also help you prepare your statements before you speak to a disciplinary panel. If necessary, they can also work to overturn sanctions and file appeals.
There's no denying that a sexual misconduct allegation is a serious charge. Student-athletes accused of sexual misconduct must undergo rigorous investigations from both their university and the NCAA. Publicly funded universities must follow Title IX policy when investigating instances of sexual misconduct. The U.S. Department defines sexual misconduct as any of the following acts:
- Sexual assault
- Dating violence
- Domestic violence
The Department of Education considers these acts gender-based discrimination. Universities must hold live hearings to determine the validity of sexual misconduct allegations.
You must use an attorney if you face a sexual misconduct charge. Live hearings provide defendants the opportunity to challenge evidence, cross-examine witnesses, and present information to clear their name. An attorney can coach you before your hearing and give you the best possible chance at a successful outcome.
Schools that fail to follow Title IX regulations may lose federal funds. As a result, student-athletes accused of sexual misconduct face significant barriers. Universities may make biased determinations against defendants to protect their reputation. They may also infringe upon student rights during their investigation.
An experienced attorney can challenge violations of your rights that might impact your case. Since many student-athletes have high profiles, attorneys can also take action to protect their privacy. Even baseless sexual misconduct allegations can damage a player's reputation. An attorney will keep the specifics of your case confidential.
The NCAA investigates infractions on a case by case basis. The investigation process depends on whether you are a Division I, II, or III athlete. In general, the NCAA Committee on Infractions will investigate higher-level infractions. The NCAA considers the following acts as grounds for an investigation of a Division I student-athlete:
- Lack of institutional control
- Academic misconduct
- Failure to cooperate with an NCAA investigation
- Unethical conduct
- Multiple recruiting, financial aid, or eligibility violations
- Booster involvement in recruiting
- Collective violations
An attorney can help you understand your level of infraction and the NCAA investigation process. They will also work to dispute the charges and hold the NCAA accountable for following approved procedures.
Why You Need a Student-Athlete Defense Attorney
Student-athletes go to great lengths to compete at the highest level. They put their bodies on the line to represent their school and guide their teams to success. Unfortunately, these sacrifices can all go to waste due to one simple mistake.
Universities and the NCAA are quick to protect their interests, even if it comes at the expense of their student-athletes. Many student-athletes around the country have experienced significant setbacks as a result. Don't leave your future in the hands of an administrative official. If you're facing backlash from your school, team, or athletic organization, you must take action. Here are some of the reasons why you should seek out an attorney right away.
- An attorney knows the stakes. A code of conduct violation can threaten the future of any student. For student-athletes, the stakes are especially high. Breaking school or NCAA rules can threaten your scholarship, athletic eligibility, and your academic career. Attorneys have a thorough understanding of student-athlete conduct rules and know how to challenge and reduce sanctions.
- An attorney understands the disciplinary process. A formal disciplinary hearing can be an intimidating experience. A student-athlete attorney knows how to navigate the complexities of university and NCAA hearings. While disciplinary proceedings are not actual trials, an attorney's court experience can prove valuable to your success. They can help you avoid mistakes, prepare a defense, and collect evidence that is influential to your outcome.
- Attorneys know the rules. Before meeting with investigators, you should always meet with an attorney. Your attorney will know specific NCAA or university rules that apply to your case. They can review policies and use their legal expertise to create a winning strategy in your case.
- Attorneys can hold others accountable. Universities have set rules for how they must conduct investigations. An attorney can hold schools accountable for their policies. They can establish grounds for an appeal if an organization infringes upon your right to due process.
Your Experienced Student-Athlete Attorney
You don't want your blood, sweat, and tears to go to waste. If you are a student-athlete experiencing issues that jeopardize your future, you want an experienced attorney by your side. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has spent many years advocating for student-athletes. He has gained a reputation as one of the fiercest defenders of student-athletes in the country. Whether you face disciplinary action from your university or your athletic program, Joseph D. Lento is here for you. He will fight to maintain your rights and refute allegations.
As a student-athlete, you have much more at stake than the average student. A single mistake can threaten your education, your eligibility, or your career. It's vital that you use the best resources to dispute the allegations and reduce your sanctions. Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm attorneys have the experience to get you the best possible results in your case. Don't wait to take action. Call us at 888-535-3686 to schedule a consultation with our team of experts today.