Faculty & Staff Interactions with Athletes

Take home message: If you interact with student-athletes (for instance, as a teacher, housing staff, financial aid or student affairs staff, employer or coach), you must make sure you understand and comply with the limits and rules that apply to your interactions – and ask for clarification from the athletics Compliance Services Office if you aren’t 100% sure whether something is allowed, before you do it!

U-M Policy and helpful links

  • On U-M’s Ann Arbor campus, the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) rules are relevant to many interactions that staff or faculty might have with student-athletes. As a general rule, anyone at U-M who interacts with student-athletes (whether in the classroom, student housing or elsewhere) must make sure they treat athletes the same way that they would treat all other students – and that the student doesn’t receive any special benefit or treatment simply because they are an athlete. See the Compliance Services website for an overview of the key compliance areas and the NCAA Division 1 Manual (on NCAA resources site) for further details, or contact the Compliance Services Office for more information.
  • On the UM-Dearborn campus, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) rules are relevant to interactions that staff or faculty might have with student-athletes. Similar to NCAA, anyone who interacts with student-athletes at Dearborn must make sure they treat athletes the same way that they would treat all other students. See the NAIA rules education page or contact the UM-Dearborn Athletics Office for more information.
  • Student-athletes are required to maintain certain academic standards, in order to remain eligible to compete on behalf of U-M. It is crucial that they reach those standards on their own merit, without receiving any different treatment than you would give to any other students in your class – otherwise, they could be excluded from competition. This means that, as a teacher, you must apply the same standards and offer the same opportunities to student-athletes as you would to any other student in your class.
  • The Academic Success Program (ASP) within the Athletics Department in Ann Arbor is dedicated to supporting the academic progress and development of student-athletes. If you have concerns about a student-athlete in your class, speak to someone in the ASP office. Alternatively, if you have questions about how NCAA rules impact on your interactions with student-athletes, speak to someone in the Compliance Services Office.
  • Anyone who is a representative of U-M’s athletics interests – including supporters and fans, as well as U-M employees and faculty who work outside the Athletics Department – may be considered to be a “booster” under the NCAA rules. There are strict rules that limit how boosters can interact with student-athletes: to learn more, read about who is a booster and what extra benefits are prohibited to be given to student-athletes (or their friends or relatives).

Things to remember

  • Student-athletes are required to maintain certain academic standards, in order to remain eligible to compete on behalf of U-M. It is crucial that they reach those standards on their own merit, without receiving any different treatment than you would give to any other students in your class – otherwise, they could be excluded from competition.
  • As a teacher, you must apply the same standards and offer the same opportunities to student-athletes as you would to any other student in your class. For instance, you may give a student-athlete an extension or agree to some alternative assessment, if the same opportunity would be given to any other student in analogous circumstances; but you are not permitted to give them special treatment just because they are an athlete, nor are you permitted to deny them opportunities for academic flexibility that you would normally give other students. Talk to someone in the Compliance Services Office (or UM-Dearborn Athletics Office) before you give a student-athlete any special dispensations, or if you simply want to clarify the rules.
  • If a student-athlete refuses an offer from you for help, or some benefit, then you should respect that refusal: they are only trying to comply with the rules that govern their lives as student-athletes, and to prevent you from inadvertently violating those rules.
  • Some sports are higher profile than others; but all student-athletes in all varsity sports need to comply with the rules that apply to them – keep this is mind as a teacher or staff member who interacts with student-athletes.

People to talk to

On the Ann Arbor campus, the Compliance Services Office within the Athletics Department should be your first port of call for any questions related to athletics compliance or potential violations. They can also answer general questions you have about how the athletics rules impact on your interactions with student-athletes as a teacher or in U-M housing facilities. You can call the Compliance Services Office at (734) 615-7341.

On the UM-Dearborn campus, questions about athletics compliance, how the athletics rules impact on your interactions with student-athletes as a staff or faculty member, or potential violations can be directed to Steve Rotta in the UM-Dearborn Athletics Office, by emailing him or calling (313) 593-5070.

The Academic Success Program (ASP) within the Athletics Department is dedicated to supporting the academic progress and development of student-athletes at U-M. If you have concerns about the performance of a student-athlete in your class, speak to someone in the ASP office.

For legal assistance or advice relating to athletics compliance, contact Debbie Kowich in the Office of the General Counsel.


Established 3/4/11, last updated 3/1/17 – Contact us if you believe any information is incorrect or outdated