Count me among those who previously thought that one had to make a financial contribution in order to be considered a “booster” (for NCAA compliance purposes).
From the NCAA Bylaws:
6.4.2 Representatives of Athletics Interests.
An institution’s “responsibility” for the conduct of its intercollegiate athletics program shall include responsibility for the acts of individuals, a corporate entity (e.g., apparel or equipment manufacturer) or other organization when a member of the institution’s executive or athletics administration or an athletics department staff member has knowledge or should have knowledge that such an individual, corporate entity or other organization:
(a) Has participated in or is a member of an agency or organization as described in Constitution 6.4.1;
(b) Has made financial contributions to the athletics department or to an athletics booster organization of that institution;
(c) Has been requested by the athletics department staff to assist in the recruitment of prospective student-athletes or is assisting in the recruitment of prospective student-athletes;
(d) Has assisted or is assisting in providing benefits to enrolled student-athletes; or
(e) Is otherwise involved in promoting the institution’s athletics program.
Further, here is an email that was sent (in 2008) from the LSU Athletics Department stating that one does not have to make a financial contribution to a particular school in order to be a “booster” (or Representative of Athletic Interests). [Emphasis added]
Please see the note below from LSU Associate AD for Compliance Bo Kerin regarding message boards and NCAA rules regarding communication on those sites with fans and prospective student-athletes. We ask in an effort to educate or fans that you please post the following message to your site.
As we prepare for a new athletic year, the LSU Athletic Department is issuing the following advisory regarding NCAA rules and asking operators of online message boards to please share the following message with their members:
As we begin the 2008-09 academic year, the LSU Athletic Department would like to take this opportunity to remind you that representatives of LSU’s athletics interests, or “boosters,” are prohibited from engaging in conversations with a prospect, or “recruit.” Please be aware that NO written, telephonic or in-person communication is permitted between a recruit and a booster of an NCAA institution regardless of the medium. Please note that anyone who encourages a recruit to attend LSU is automatically considered a booster. Many believe that they are not a booster because they do not contribute financially to the University. However, NCAA rules specify that any individual who assists in the recruitment of prospects is considered a “booster.”
Please be cognizant of these rules and refrain from engaging in chat room sessions, posting messages on a recruit’s Web page or engaging in “Q & A sessions” with recruits on message boards. By avoiding these activities, you will be assisting LSU in maintaining compliance with NCAA rules.
Thank you for your cooperation in this matter and for your continued support of LSU Athletics!