The return of LaMelo Ball to high school basketball raises the question of how Ball, who has already played in two professional teams, can become an amateur again and whether the youngest of the three sons of the Big Baller Brand (BBB), the CEO of LaVar Ball, the NCAA could play college basketball once he has graduated from high school. These questions were prompted by Ball's recent stated intention to sign up soon at the SPIRE Institute, a private high school in Geneva, Ohio.
The ball's unusual basketball trip
Ball, 17, has lived a basketball life from early childhood on. His eldest brother, Lonzo, plays in the second year of the Los Angeles Lakers, while middle brother LiAngelo plays for the Los Angeles Ballers of the Junior Basketball Association (JBA). BBB sponsors the JBA, which represents LaVar Ball as Commissioner and Director.
Last year, Ball's basketball trip seemed pretty conventional. Between 2015 and 2017, Ball was a student at Chino Hills High School (California) and a highly regarded basketball court. Classified by ESPN as the seventh-best high school recruiter in his class, Ball was set to follow in his brothers' footsteps by signing up to join UCLA in the fall of 2019.
For several reasons, Ball's plans changed radically in the fall of 2017. First, as explained below, Ball was linked to a BBB sneaker deal that questioned doubts about the whereabouts of the NCAA. Second, LaVar Ball expressed resentment over a change of coach in Chino Hills. Dennis Latimore replaced Steve Baik, of which LaVar Ball said, "I do not like him a bit." In December 2017, LaMelo Ball (undoubtedly with strong influence from his father) decided to leave high school and become a pro. Ball hired an agent, Harrison Gaines, who negotiated a ball contract. The point keeper signed with Vytautas Prienai – Birštonas the Lithuanian Basketball League (LKL) and the Baltic Basketball League (BBL). Ball played eight games for Vytautas before returning to the US to sign another contract with the JBA's Ballers. Between the regular season and the playoffs, Ball played 11 games for the Ballers, averaging 40 points per game.
The (art) return of the ball to the amateur high school
Ball's professional basketball career will take a break next year. He joined the SPIRE Institute and is expected to play there next week. The SPIRE Institute is affiliated with the SPIRE Academy, which, according to their website, "conveys a classroom sense of class with a 12: 1 student-teacher ratio" and offers a wide range of residential and online courses "to meet the needs of students and athletes. "School attendance for high school students is quite steep: $ 52,000 to $ 58,000, including room and board, and is about the same price paid by a Phillips Academy boarder in Andover, Massachusetts. Ball has twittered that he intends to complete his high school diploma with courses at SPIRE.
SPIRE is not a member of the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA), the governing body for sports programs in Ohio. This is significant in that the OHSAA requires eligibility of student-athletes for students who meet certain conditions.
It does not seem that Ball could fulfill all these OHSAA conditions.
This is made clear by the review of the Statute of OHSAA 4, which emphasizes that licensed athletes must be amateurs and not professionals. Statute 4 loses amateur status when the student athlete competes for money or other compensation. In this sense, any reimbursement for travel, meals or accommodation can not be "made dependent on the place or performance of the individual or team or incentivized, and these costs will be made available to all competitors". Pack 4 also dictates that high school athletes lose their amateur status when capitalizing on their "glory in getting money, goods, or value services." Intermediate # 4 clarifies that "pay" is generally defined as "direct or indirect remuneration". Tipping or other economic benefits in the present or future, or sharing or sharing the surplus (bonuses, game revenues, etc.). ). "Ball's sneaker deal and pro contracts would be big hurdles for eligibility.
A further provision of sentence 4 would be particularly problematic for Ball. Pursuant to sentence 4, the amateur status is squandered if the student athlete "signs a contract or in any way undertakes to play professional athletics. regardless of their legal enforceability or payment received, "Commenting on ESPN, Justin Brantley, Associate Academy Director of SPIRE, said that despite signing two contracts for professional basketball, Ball somehow did not get paid under these contracts. Even if such an account is correct, Ball still seems to have fallen short for the purposes of Statute 4. It assumes that a signed service contract, irrespective of any escrow payment, is an event in which the entitlement expires. Ball would have to convince the OHSAA that Bylaw 4 should regulate the actions of student-athletes while playing in high school, not at times (or in the case of Ball, the time between his two high school basketball stints).
Since SPIRE is not regulated by the OHSAA, the Bylaw 4 is not up for debate. SPIRE can set its own authorization rules, provided they are compatible with the rules for competing schools. The basketball team of SPIRE does not appear to participate in any conference organized by OHSAA. Likewise, the team's schedule for 2018-19 includes games and tournament appearances in various parts of the country. For example, Thanksgiving is played at the Skills Factory Tournament in Atlanta. Fast forward to one week before Christmas. SPIRE will travel to Las Vegas to play in the Tarkanian Classic. The schedule of SPIRE is not unusual for a private school, which openly emphasizes the mission to prepare elite athletes for sporting excellence. The IMG Academy in Florida also offers a range of exceptional basketball games designed to maximize students' chances of becoming Division I College stars and possible professional athletes and Olympians.
It is not surprising that SPIRE would enroll Ball. While Ball's father is obviously controversial, Ball seems to be a legitimate prospect that will immediately give the program the star power. His signing also ensures constant media attention for the school. This attention could lead to more applications from prospective students and interest from top athletes.
However, there is a risk for SPIRE to commit to Ball and his family. La Lumiere High School (La Porte, Indiana), one of SPIRE's planned opponents, has canceled the game against SPIRE on 13 November. The school has its decision for SPIRE using a professional player, d. H. Ball, announced. If other schools respond similarly, SPIRE must rethink the decision to play the ball.
Ball's unlikely pursuit of NCAA authority
Ball said he wanted to play as a freshman at a "top" college in 2019-20 and named North Carolina, Duke, Kentucky, Kansas, and Michigan State as possible options. After all reports, Ball plans to spend only one year at college before he can qualify for the 2020 NBA Draft.
The problem with Ball's college plan is that Ball seems to have lost his NCAA credentials already. The NCAA may consider one of at least three events to be an expiration.
First and as previously described in detail The crossoverBall designed a BBB sneaker named after him in 2017. Referred to by BBB as "the first signature shoe to be launched by a high school basketball player", MELLO BALL 1 or MB1 is offered on the BBB website for $ 395. If Ball was paid or otherwise compensated for his involvement in MB1 at any time, he would have difficulty in complying with Article 12 of the NCAA Section I Manual. Article 12 states that "a person loses his or her amateur status and is therefore not eligible for an intercollegiate competition in a particular sport if the person (a) does not have his or her athletic abilities (directly or indirectly) in that sport for Pay starts; [or] (b) accept a salary promise even if this salary is to be obtained after completing participation in an inter-collegiate track and field. "
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On the other hand, Article 12 provides for an exemption if the pre-college pay for "modeling" and other "non-athletically related advertising" applies. To this point, Ball is a celebrity, especially if his family is involved in a sports Facebook reality series. However, the modeling exception applies only if the athlete's participation is "independent of athletics ability" and the athlete "does not approve of the commercial product". Since the MB1 is a basketball sneaker and its brand name implies the ball's implicit approval, the modeling exception would probably not work for Ball.
The second eligibility event is that Ball hired a basketball agent in 2017. This step appeared to be in Article 12, which states that an athlete who retains an agent will lose his amateur status. In response, Ball may point that out in August. In 2018, the NCAA announced a number of changes to the use of agents for basketball players. The change relevant to high school basketball players is that players who have been classified by US basketball as "elite senior prospects" can be represented by an agent with the approval of the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) , The agent may be detained at high school from 1 July before starting his high school year. Unfortunately, the NBA and NBPA for Ball have not yet acted under this agreement – the one-and-done age rule is likely to persist until 2022 or 2023, and even if that had been the case, Ball would not have complied with the rules usually: he hired an agent In front July 1 of his senior year in high school.
As far as the third eligibility is concerned, it consists of two parts: Ball signed separate employment contracts with two professional basketball teams. Even if Ball was not paid by these teams (which, logically, is hard to accept because labor contracts provide for an exchange of labor in exchange for something of value), the teams themselves were professional teams. For this reason, Article 12 again poses a fitness problem for Ball. Article 12 expresses that a student athlete is not entitled to athletes who participate in a sport if he or she has ever "participated in a professional team of that sport ".
Ball would only be able to overcome that language if it could successfully invoke a derogation from Article 12. An exception is when Ball can prove that he has not received a salary and has "paid no more than actual and necessary costs of participation" two professional teams. The NCAA defines "actual and necessary expenditures" and includes the following:
(c) clothing, equipment and accessories;
(d) coaching and teaching;
(e) health / medical insurance;
(f) Transportation (cost to and from exercise and competition, cost of transportation from home to training / practice site at the beginning of the season / preparation of an event and training / practice / venue at home at the end of the season / event );
(g) medical treatment and physiotherapy;
(h) use of the facility;
(i) entry fees; and
(j) other reasonable expenses.
The NCAA further explains that the actual and necessary expensesmay only be provided if such costs are for competition in a team or for a specific event or for exercises directly related to such a competition. , , The value of these expenses must be equal to that
The market value of similar goods and services at the place where the costs are paid and may not be excessive, "
The NCAA would obviously be skeptical of Ball's obvious allegation that his employment contracts did not provide salaries or that he curiously opposed the agreed pay. The NCAA would certainly ask to review the two contracts signed by him and speak with Ball's agents. The NCAA would also demand much more details from LaVar Ball, whose ownership of BBB makes his son's employment in the BBB's own JBA difficult. To this end, the NCAA would require to know how and when LaVar has transferred funds and other items to LaMelo and whether LaVar has promised to pay LaMelo later. Such promises for future payments may be interpreted as deferred payments by an employer. Similarly, the NCAA would likely insist on affidavits from Vytautas officials as to exactly how Ball is employed in the team. Remember that LaMelo Ball is responsible and which college he visits, to convince the NCAA that he thinks it is suitable.
Ball may also consider the exception of "Professional Player as a Team Member" in relation to Article 12. This exception requires that Ball can play with professional players, as long as these professionals have not been paid by the team or the league. To illustrate, if Ball had played in teams with professionals and amateurs in recreational or pickup basketball leagues, Ball would have a chance. However, Ball's LKL and JBA teams were not recreational or summer balls. These teams employed professionals who were probably paid to play in these teams.
The more likely way for Ball to graduate from high school is to become a professional again for a year. Maybe he will find himself with brother LiAngelo in the JBA. Or maybe he's using the new G League Select contracts, which are worth $ 125,000 for five months of work. But the persecution of NCAA basketball seems to be an arduous journey – even for someone like Ball, who spent the last year getting used to life on "the less traveled road."
Michael McCann is the legal analyst of SI. He is also deputy dean of the School of Law at the University of New Hampshire and publisher and co-author of The Oxford Handbook of American Sports Law and Court Justice: The story of my fight against the NCAA,